18 November 2008

Going local: Old Town Farmers' Market

Several weeks after my visit*, my review:

The Old Town Farmers' Market is situated on the fountain plaza next to City Hall, at the intersection of King Street and Royal, right in the liver of Old Town (I really think the heart of Old Town is the waterfront at the end of King Street and the Torpedo Factory--King and Royal is close, though). It's the earliest starter of all the markets I've reviewed so far; it opens at 5:30 and shuts down at 10:30. Like the Arlington Farmers' Market, Old Town is open year-round, availability of fresh produce notwithstanding.

It probably has the largest area out of the markets I've reviewed as well. In spite of the large fountain in the middle, Market Square has a lot of space, and the vendors sprawl across it. The large area provides for a wider variety of wares than I've seen in other places. Beyond the traditional produce, meat, dairy, and baked goods, crafts peddlers and florists dot the rows of booths. This is good for those looking for more than just food offerings. Bad for those creeped out by severed doll heads used as mounts.

Questionable display choices aside, I also haven't been as impressed with the quality of produce I've picked up in Old Town. Mealy apples, fresh cider that tastes like it's from concentrate--not up to par with Del Ray or Arlington, in my opinion. To be fair, I've shopped those other markets much more frequently than I've shopped Old Town. I shouldn't judge from this past experience; I may have picked a lesser vendor or just gone on a bad week.

The best thing Old Town does have going for it is its location. Like the Del Ray and Arlington markets, it's situated in the middle of a bustling area well known for its shops, haunts, and restaurants. At the Old Town Farmers' Market, you're within walking distance of the waterfront (the heart), several good restaurants, and a few notable historical sites (such as the Alexandria Courthouse and the John Carlyle House). It also has the feeling of community that exists at the other markets, only it's the Old Town community as opposed to the Arlington or Del Ray communities. Choosing a market out of the three to visit based on the neighborhood depends, then, on what you're in the mood for. Old Town is definitely more full of tourists. Arlington's Courthouse/Clarendon area is a target spot for yuppies, while Del Ray attracts former hippies, indie hipsters, and yuppies who are pretending to be hipsters.

Overall, I prefer the Arlington and Del Ray markets to the Old Town offering.

This past Saturday I also visited Eastern Market and took some pictures. I hope to have that review up by the end of the week.

*Special thanks to special guests who accompanied me for my site visit: Amanda, KE, and especially Katherine, who loaned me her camera and emailed me the pictures for this post (I forgot my camera at home).


Cabeza said...

Today's post is the post for hyperlinks!

Amanda said...

Also, you're more likely to see street performers around the Old Town Farmers' Market than the Del Rey market, it seems (I can't speak to the Arlington Farmers' Market). Not a significant detail unless, as was the case on this particular visit to Old Town, there is a saxophonist who insists on play really awful renditions of How Great Thou Art.

Amanda said...

Eh ehm, *playing.

Eleesha Tucker said...

thanks for reviewing my neighborhood.

ke said...

Were your apples bad? I got a couple and they were de-licious.

Cabeza said...

Yeah, unfortunately I didn't get great produce that time around. But like I said, it may have been the wrong booth at the wrong time on the wrong week.