The Dollar-Wise Gourmet: Farmers Market Fare


Think the farmers market is just a place for pretty produce? Turns out it also happens to be a hot spot for prepared foods. That’s what we discovered at the Cesar Chavez Plaza farmers market at 10th and J, open Wed-nesdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Once you get past the perimeter of produce and enter the inner circle, you’ll find vendors serving a cavalcade of cuisines, from Chinese and Mexican to barbecue and crêpes. It’s almost like a shopping mall food court magically moved to the great outdoors. What’s good, and what’s cheap? Better yet, what’s both good and cheap? My pal J and I recently trolled the market to conduct a little taste test. Here, in order of preference, are our findings.

Chicken taco, $2.50 (Xochimilco Mexican Restaurant & Grille)
The find of the day, this bountiful taco was piled so high with toppings that it looked more like a tostada. Everything was super-fresh, from the double-stacked corn tortillas to the “salad” (lettuce, diced tomatoes, black olives, shredded white cheese). But it was the big chunks of tender chicken that put this taco over the top.

Cheese and spinach crêpe, $4.25 (Crêpe au Jardin)
A perfectly browned crêpe, generously filled with fresh spinach and delicious cheddar cheese, got two thumbs up. If you want to go cheaper, try the Crêpe du Sucre (plain crêpe with sugar and optional cinnamon) for $2.75 or a simple cheese crêpe for $3.25.

Kettle corn (small bag), $3.25 (What’s Poppin’?)
OK, so maybe a bag of popcorn does not a meal make, but J raved about it. “It’s the best kettle corn I’ve ever had,” she swooned. “Light, fluffy, sweet but not too sweet, not greasy and no kernel shells.”

Gyro sandwich, $4.99 (Gyro 2 Go)
Does the longest line mean the bestest grub? Not in this case. This is a decent gyro, with very fresh pita and tasty tzatziki, but the meat was cut into chunks instead of long, lean spears, and it was too spicy for my taste buds. Maybe it’s just me, though, because this place rocked the market for hours on end.