Old Town Farmers Market: Sweet Tastes, Live Cooking Shows, and Exotic Vegetables

Shelby Moore
Chocolate covered sunflower seed pancakes, topped with braeburn applesauce from the Orange Table.

Shelby Moore

The Market: Old Town Farmers Market in Scottsdale

The Location: The northwest corner of Brown and 1st Street in Old Town Scottsdale

The Days/Hours: Every Saturday from 8 a.m. 'til 1 p.m.

Parking: Congregating on a city parking facility itself, there is underground parking below the event (enter from Brown side), though the parking lot on the south side of 1st street is much easier.

The Vendors: Known widely as the one of the Valley's most bountiful markets, Old Town attracts big names - Jonathan Roberts bread, Essence Bakery, McClendon's Select, Orange Table - for those who look for the labels. The little(er) guys; the mom and pops, the fine purveyors, the slightly obscure - they're all there too, and oftentimes they're just as impressive.

Shelby Moore
The carrot, beet, and onion selection from Maya's Farm

Shelby Moore
Water cooler shot: five amongst the crowd, eating a sandwich that most likely came from Pork on a Fork next to them.

Take, for instance, the produce offerings. Ask any frequenter - McClendon's Select is the top dog at the Old Town Market. They've got several varieties of almost any seasonal, organic vegetables and fruits, and they bring seemingly bottomless baskets of the stuff that nearly sell out across six check-out stations. But as big of an operation as they are, a shadow remains to be cast over other rockstar vendors, notably Maya's Farm for colorful carrots and plump beets, or Blue Sky Farms that carry not only staple vegetables, but a collection of the exotic - peacock kale, rapini, red chard - and a range of root vegetables that will spice up (better yet, replace) your next dish of mashed potatoes. 

It's a good thing folks love good bread - competition at the market is steeper than the learning curve for a home sourdough starter. Miranda from Panem Amici is as sweet as a loaf of cinnamon double raisin bread, and bakes up a sun-dried tomato and artichoke loaf that smells irresistible. Jonathan Roberts makes a fine, decadent loaf of bread that clocks in at $6; (the flavors are all classics) and Arizona Bread Company sells soft, thinly sliced breads that cater to the home sandwich chef.

Especial Tuna could be one of the coolest vendors at the market. The owner takes his dog up to the coast of Oregon and catches all of his own tuna.

The Crowd: It's the Scottsdale crowd we know and love, and not exactly the types you'd think (luxury digs, luxury vehicles, luxury dogs). Sure, sometimes it takes a stuffed wallet to stuff a pantry with exclusively craft and artisan eats, and the market undoubtedly flourishes because of that particular clientele. But more common are the families and the couples out for a Saturday stroll with their pups, picking up the essential items they ran out of just the night before. It's a fun market because of all those who come for community, good food and quality conversation.

Best taste: Scattered around the market are vendors that remind you of your overactive sweet tooth. A trip to The Orange Table gives you creative pancakes made fresh on a griddle. This past Saturday chocolate covered sunflower seeds were sprinkled in, and the cake was topped with freshly made braeburn applesauce (there's freshly made mozzarella, peppered and sprinkled with olive oil, to sample while you wait). 

Another temptress for the sweet tooth is The Cider Mill's old fashioned root beer that you could order in a bottle, but you'd rather have off the tap. It's just a tad sweet and low in carbonation, so it goes down smooth and battles all signs of market fatigue. 

Shelby Moore
A chocolate offering from Sweet Republic being enjoyed.

The best savory sample we had all morning might have been that mozzarella we mentioned, but the Market Chef (who teach live classes on how to cook using items sold in the market) had sample cups of a slaw that utilized peacock kale and was garnished with salmon; colorful, crisp, delicious.

What's missing: Not much. But we have to wonder: with all the food trucks running around town, how come they don't stop by the market? Sure there's Sweet Republic, but aside from tent vendors; the Pasole at Eddie's House and sandwiches from Pork on a Fork, there's not much in the way for lunch. Downtown Phoenix has a few trucks at its market, but we'd like to see some at the Scottsdale market as well. Though it seems like a long shot, it'd be great if the market eventually got vendors who bring milk and eggs to the table, and perhaps then one could achieve one-stop weekly grocery shopping. 

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Shelby Moore
Gina's Homemade now offers pizzas that are a sinch to finish baking once you're home.

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