Pros and Cons of LA’s Farmer’s Market and The Grove

Pros and Cons of LA’s Farmer’s Market and The Grove

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  1. Hundreds of Angelinos that apparently don’t care about spending twice what they have to for food, clothing, cooking supplies, knickknacks, padiwacks and doodads flock to the intersection of Fairfax Blvd and 3rd Street every day; on weekends, the northeast corner is flooded with thousands of such careless people, not to mention a large contingent (including me) who show up just to gawk at the high rollers, make fun of the weirder ones and enjoy a nice pastrami sandwich while trying their best to keep strangers from stomping on their toes.

    The Farmer’s Market has been an icon of Los Angeles for generations; The Grove, a recent incarnation devoted to appeasing the tastes of rich snobs and their wannabe lookalikes, struggled up from the concrete and packed dirt on the adjacent lot and now can’t decide whether it compliments or competes with its less classy neighbor next door. However, both locales have their plusses and minuses; otherwise, I’d have nothing to write about here.

     

    Parking– Both Farmers Market (heretofore symbolized as FM, because I’m too lazy to keep typing all of those letters) and The Grove (abbreviated TG from now on, for the same reason) have their own parking lots, and neither likes to share with the other. Parking in either lot is free, as long as you buy something and have your parking ticket validated; however, you must have TG tickets validated in TG, and visa versa for FM.

    TG’s parking lot is huge and contains a very convenient constantly updated display at the entrance letting you know where you can find open spaces; however, to get the ticket validated you have to shop in one of LA’s most expensive stores, shops or boutiques, or eat at one of TG’s fancy, overpriced restaurants, so in the end parking is very expensive. On the other hand, FM’s parking lot is small, crowded, always full and a headache to navigate; however, you can have your ticket validated for the price of a single orange. Of course that orange will cost five times more than one you’d find in any supermarket, but you can always count on top quality at FM, at least.

    (I would have included photos for this segment, but apparently no one takes pictures of parking lots, at least not for several decades. The closest I could come was a photo of FM parking lot from about 1967. I guess Joni Mitchell had more of an influence on America than I had thought.)

     

    Dining– At FM you can buy a decent meal for just a few bucks, or you can buy a good meal for a few dollars more, or you can have the pastrami at Phil’s Deli for around $10 and die happy in the knowledge that you’ve had some of the best pastrami LA has to offer. Then again, you can have a reasonably pricy lunch of sushi and sashimi as long as you don’t mind standing. or you can sit in a refugee-of-the-60s folding metal chair beside a rickety, grimy table with pedestrians constantly running into your seat trying their best to spill your meal. Wherever you eat in FM, you’ll have at least a decent meal and won’t break the bank. On the other hand, a single meal in TG can cost you a week’s pay, depending on your occupation. Sure, the food is good, but for the most part, you’re paying for atmosphere and the honor of dining with people who are absolutely certain that they are your superiors, including the waiters, and who needs that? Okay, rich snobs do, but you don’t.

     

    Shopping– TG consists of overpriced shops and boutiques exclusively. If style at any price is a must for you, then you’ll be in heaven at TG. If you’re a normal person who cares more about durability and affordability, try the K-Mart across Fairfax. The shops in FM do not sell clothes or other fashionable items; for the most part, they sell touristy crap, though some of the touristy crap is more than a little fun.  A few shops specialize in oddities and collectibles; some sell trendy items (such as aroma therapy candles and incenses, pyramids to hang over your bed and under-the-counter aluminum foil hats to keep the CIA satellite mind probes at bay), or unusual glitz and décor from exotic locales. The one that I like best sells a few hundred different varieties of hot sauce from around the world, most with hilarious graphics and names (Ass in Hell is my personal favorite). All of these items are overpriced, but the price tags won’t put you into a coma like those of TG.

     

    Getting Around- There’s no question about it: TG is far easier to get around in. Because the courtyard is outdoors, you don’t have a claustrophobic ceiling overhead, the street is wide and uncluttered, the small but lovely park is spacious enough and has plenty of comfortable green grass and you don’t have to elbow your way through crowds of aggressive fat people. FM is the opposite of everything I just said: narrow walkways, crowding buildings, cluttered with people who all seem to be in some all fired hurry and lots of hungry tub-os like me. This is to be expected, however, because in any given population the number of normal people will greatly outnumber the rich folk. Also, the available foot-traffic area of FM is probably less than a tenth of that in TG.

    If you prefer class without caring about price, then good for you! You can do all of your shopping and dining in The Grove without worrying about the mortgage. Likewise if you like to save up for a splurge into decidence and luxury on occasion; this is a good place to blow a wad.

    On the other hand, if you like hanging with normal everyday folks, shoulder-to-shoulder at times, and good food served on a paper plate with plastic utensiles, spend a day in Farmer’s Market.

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