News & Politics

Best of Washington 2012: Six Top Farm Markets

Local markets with gourmet goodies, fresh produce, and great wares.

Veggies at the Dupont Circle FreshFarm market. Photograph courtesy of Flickr user adactio.

Best of Washington 2012

1. Dupont Circle FreshFarm Market

It’s worth braving the crowds to squeeze among the 40 or so stands offering top-quality produce, meats, fish, dairy, and flowers. The variety of prepared foods can cover the week’s shopping, and hot meals and entertainment make this more Sunday brunch than weekend chore. Great finds: crabcakes from Chris’ Marketplace, Atwater’s French pastries, and Compost Cab’s composting service.

2. Falls Church Farmers Market

The county-fair atmosphere belies the high-quality gourmet goodies, such as juniper duck sausage and habanero/cherry truffles, at this 29-year-old Saturday-morning market. The flowers and baked goods are irresistible, as are grillable bratwursts and hot dogs from Stachowski Brand Charcuterie. Master chefs, including Bertrand Chemel from 2941 restaurant, and gardeners offer demos and advice.

3. Bethesda Central Farm Market

Pie contests and scavenger hunts make this a popular kid- and dog-friendly neighborhood hangout. But many come for great blueberries from Moody Blues Farms, high-end seafood (lobster!), and smoky BBQ. Rare finds: homemade goodies from Two Acre Farm and the Sharpen-This knife sharpener.

4. Takoma Park Farmers Market

Late sleepers welcome the 10 am Sunday start, but don’t dally—the fabulous eggs from Ferry Landing Farm & Apiary sell quickly. This pioneer of the farmers-market movement adheres strictly to vendor rules, such as selling only what purveyors produce themselves. This can limit the offerings, but organics abound alongside grass-finished beef, herbs, wreaths, and handmade pasta.

5. Penn Quarter FreshFarm Market

This small, selective market boasts some of the finest and most unusual foods, from microgreens to quail eggs, as well as delicious dairy, pasture-raised meats, and prepared foods from the likes of Soupergirl. Weekday hours and nearby restaurants mean celebrity chefs such as José Andrés and Fabio Trabocchi stop by to give demos and shop for their kitchens. New this year: the Red Zebra’s wood-burning pizza oven.

6. Arlington Farmers’ Market

No frills, just consistently great wares, mostly from the bigger markets’ favorite farmers. Standouts include empanadas, pasta, ham biscuits from Smith Meadows, sweet corn from Musachio Produce Farm, mushrooms from Mother Earth Organic Mushrooms, and berries from Westmoreland Berry Farm.