Published: 03/09/2011 by Helen Skura

It was 8 AM on a chilly Saturday, and I should’ve been asleep. Unfortunately, I have a major addiction to fresh produce, and the bruised, wilted fruits and vegetables at the local supermarket chains (which shall remain nameless) just weren’t cutting it anymore. A girl needs her vitamins almost as much as she needs her beauty sleep.

So, braving the cold and the hour, I set out to finally investigate a favorite Burbank staple: the Downtown Farmers’ Market. Vendors assemble behind the City Hall Annex at Third Street and Orange Grove Avenue on Saturday mornings from 8 AM to 12:30 PM. Except for a few days between Christmas and New Year, they’re there every week rain or shine and have been operating since 1983.

While this market is one of the oldest in Southern California, it’s by no means the biggest. However, the selection of wares is definitely respectable. Vendors are hand-picked and manage to pack a lot of high-quality products into only about twenty-five booths. You won’t need hours to hunt down exactly what you’re looking for, but if you were so inclined, there’s certainly enough superior merchandise and tasty free samples around to fuel a leisurely morning of aimless exploration.

Keeping the Doctor Away

Whether you’re into apples or cherimoyas, celery or squash blossoms, the produce at this market is superb and diverse. After sampling my way through nearly a dozen delicious varieties of pears and oranges, I had to remember to stop buying fruit if I was ever going to have enough cash left for salad components and veggie side dishes. The greenery didn’t disappoint, and I almost couldn’t wait to get home and start enjoying my recommended daily servings.

But there was more than just produce, and I couldn’t resist inspecting the array of gorgeous fresh flowers, mixed nuts, and organic honey. All the vendors are friendly and kind, willing to answer questions or just joke around. The welcoming atmosphere definitely took the sting out of having to be out of bed before noon on a weekend.

What’s Crackin

One booth had a line that dwarfed all the others; that booth belongs to the woman commonly referred to as the “egg lady.” Judging by her impressive crowd of waiting customers, this chick really knows her eggs. People were buying by the dozen and by the gross. The egg lady was sold out in mere hours, but the late-comers just grumbled good-naturedly, vowing to be back next week to try their luck again.

Among other beloved regular sellers are the “grass-fed beef guy” and the “organic cheese guy,” both of whom display great, healthy products for reasonable prices. If you’re sick of hormones and antibiotics in your meat and dairy, these booths are the only stops you’ll need to make for wholesome alternatives.

An International Experience

All products are certified California grown, but a few stalls near the back feature the best of their international variations. The scent of handmade tamales and Korean barbeque waft through the air, and fluffy pita pockets and creamy hummus sit beside an impressive assortment of olives. Whether you want a snack to walk around with or meals for the next week, chances are you’ll find something delicious.

Early Bird Special

The market doesn’t allow pets, but apparently there are a few shady places to tie dogs (if you’re into that sort of thing). You also won’t find any arts and crafts being offered, but not having to wade through wicker and macramé is a good thing as far as I’m concerned.

My advice to future market-goers is this: get there early. You’re going to have to drag yourself out of bed if you want to beat out other Burbanites for the best selection. Arriving right as the market opens is best, but an hour won’t hurt much. Luckily street parking is abundant, and a structure on Orange Grove is also free, so at least you won’t have to stumble far too get at all the California-grown goodness.

Third Street and Orange Grove
Burbank, Ca
(818) 847-4774

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