America's Top Farmer's Markets: Barton Creek Farmer's Market
Located on the southern outskirts of Austin, this culinary bazaar makes our list because of its rocket-fire growth (founded just 10 years ago), its abundant produce from the Texas Hill Country and the sheer passion of one person: Pamela Boyar, a visionary who built a small market into a community event. Austin is a hard place to build a farmers' market, given that two top grocery stores got their start in this town (Whole Foods and Central Market). But Boyar's determination has built a foodie destination-and a model market. All profits are plowed into the farmers' tills and most of the produce is organic or sustainably grown.
Austin is an eclectic city-or several cities in one, barrio to bourgeoisie. South Austin is retro '60s hip and wavy-gravy, central Austin is a lot of Gucci shoes and historical heritage types, east Austin is a chips-and-salsa belt and north Austin is corporate and techno-savvy-yet they're all here, blue-haired church ladies to the last remnants of punk, conservatives to liberals. They come for the food-ripe peaches, dried chiles and empanadas-but also for each other, a celebration of their city's growing diversity. One warning: summer Saturdays heat up in the Texas sun, so come early and bring a hat.
Our Favorite Vendors
At Bella Verdi Farms, good greens come in tiny packages: their Lilliputian arugula is sour, herbaceous and irresistible. And if you like it spicy, check out Spiceburst's hand-blended seasoning mixes, including their banging-hot Chile Lime Saltburst, great on a steak or rimmed on a margarita glass.
If you're hungry, 20 varieties of hand-crimped empanadas are on sale from Empanadas La Boca-all made from wholesome ingredients and baked (not fried), a decidedly decadent Tex-Mex treat. You've come to the right place for dessert. Austin lies just to the east of some of the country's most prolific peach orchards. Try the sweet peaches from Engel Orchards.
Melons are an Austin tradition. The hot, dry summers concentrate the sugars formed during the monsoons of early spring. In July, the market puts on Melon Mania: taste some sorbet, do some melon carving and explore the endless list of heritage varietals, sweetened in the Texas sun. In August, the serranos, poblanos and hatch chiles are hot and fresh-roasted at the Chile Pepper Fest. And in October, load up on balms, tinctures, pesto and soaps at Herb Fest, sponsored by the Austin Herb Society.
Sat., 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., Barton Creek Mall | sunsetvalleyfarmersmarket.org