A leisurely strolls through the farmers markets is good for the soul. These markets seem to bring out the best in people and provide a sense of community so often missing from daily life. They're also great places to people watch and, well, buy food. The best markets in Dallas-Fort Worth happen mostly on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon — after that, pickings get slim. Some markets, particularly in Denton, McKinney and Coppell, are well worth a commute. Here's a rundown of the best markets in DFW.
Denton Community Market
317 W. Mulberry St., Denton
9 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday
Denton Community Market is not just an essential farmers market; it offers a quick tour of what makes this city so charming. The impressive maze of trucks and tents creates its own little world near the downtown square. After visiting a bunch of DFW farmers markets, you start to notice certain vendors — like Steel City Pops — that pop up at multiple markets. But Denton Community Market is full of surprises. There's fresh produce, of course, and arts and crafts. But you'll also find organic juice cocktails, biscuits and mushroom gravy, blueberry cheesecake-roasted almonds, even all natural dog treats and live music. One man sat at a table encouraging people to pet a large snake and one couple sold all manner of terrifying knives. It's also pleasant to meander through the grass under the shade of big, old trees.
McKinney Farmers Market at Chestnut Square
315 S. Chestnut St., McKinney
8 a.m. to noon every Saturday
When it comes to produce, meat, bread, arts and crafts and food stands, McKinney Farmers Market is second to none. But it's also situated in Chestnut Square, a village museum of historic homes circa 1854 to 1918. There's a wedding chapel, a kitchen for cooking demonstrations, even a blacksmith and goats to entertain kids. The calendar of events is worth keeping an eye on — thousands of people are looking forward to the annual ice cream crank-off on June 11. Every year, people come from near and far to crank homemade ice cream on-site for public tasting and judging.
Coppell Farmers Market
768 W. Main St., Coppell
8 a.m. to noon every Saturday
Located in the historical Old Town Coppell with a beautiful pavilion, Coppell Farmers Market is fiercely local, mandating that all produce must come from within 150 miles. This is also a competitive location with strict vendor guidelines — much of the produce is picked the day before. The stringent rules create a truly exceptional market. Don't be surprised to see shoppers with bags, carts and baskets, much like at a standard grocery store. Cash is the best option, but you can use a debit card to buy wooden tokens accepted by vendors. Definitely get there early for best selection — there's free coffee waiting for you.
9150 Garland Rd.
8 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday
White Rock and Lakeside are now one market outside Lakeside Baptist Church. For local produce, this is one of the best options within Dallas city limits. Great big bags of spinach and immaculate heads of broccoli were too good to pass up. But Lakeside also has a respectable variety of breads, cheeses, eggs and meats, which makes it an all-around good spot for most essential grocery items. There are also strong cups of coffee and bags of coffee beans from Noble Coyote Coffee Roasters. Scones, croissants and kolaches are available if you're looking for breakfast, and there's sorbet if you need to cool off.
Sweet Harvest Shed/Dulce Cosecha
1103 S. Harwood St.
8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily
This is actually a great place to get produce if you're near Dallas Farmers Market. Sweet Harvest Shed/Dulce Cosecha is a gorgeous red shed full of fruits, vegetables and nuts. Even the pickiest shoppers will be happy with the watermelons, mangos, strawberries and apples here. They also put together darling fruit baskets and this might be the best place to get tomatoes. There's a great assortment of flowers here; the prices are very reasonable and the people are kind. Sweet Harvest also has baked goods like pies and breads. If you miss the way Dallas Farmers Market used to be, walk across the street to Sweet Harvest Shed. That’s what some of the vendors did.
Cowtown Farmers Market
3821 Southwest Blvd., Fort Worth
8 a.m. to noon every Saturday
These folks are serious with plainspoken grit. Any of these vendors will tell you that the Cowtown Farmers Market is proud to be promoting Texas agriculture as part of Go Texan, and they're also proud to be part of the North Texas Farmers Market Association. Cowtown Farmers Market kicks into full gear this month with more than 30 vendors. Virtually every farmers market had tamales, but I opted to pay a few bucks more than normal at Cowtown for a batch of the spicy pork from Hot Tamalez. With cayenne and red chili, there’s an emphasis on spice with a flawless blend of pork, beef and pork broth. Every farmers market has jam, but I recommend getting it here from B&G’s Garden. The Spiced White Peach has an irresistible cinnamon and citrus zest.
5803 E. Northwest
10 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Sunday
Located in the Half Price Books parking lot, this is a pretty good farmers market in Vickery Meadow, the melting pot of apartment complexes near NorthPark Center. Half Moon Fried Pie is a standout, and they make their pies — in flavors like chocolate, lemon poutin and chicken enchilada — fresh. The first peaches have recently arrived, there's local honey, spices, chicken and duck eggs and Dallas' cookie-of-the-moment, macarons. With a location that guarantees plenty of exposure in a dynamic neighborhood, this is a farmers market to watch.
Dallas Farmers Market
920 S. Harwood St.
8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every Friday and Sunday
condos Farmers Market is never going to be the same. Inside, Pecan Lodge used to be where suits now sit at a pricy seafood place. They used to play classic Italian music and serve insane Rueben sandwiches at Old World Sausage Company, but — and I promised myself I wouldn’t cry — Taqueria La Ventana has taken that spot. The Market, the inside portion of DFM, has been turned into a crowded shopping mall food court. Outside, there are some wonderful people with excellent food stands — but there currently isn’t much of a farmers market.
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The claim is that the place is in a state of transition as they bring real local farmers in, replacing resellers comparable to grocery stores. Sure, there was some of that, but there were also many farmers with mouthwatering produce at reasonable prices. What happened to them? A vendor recently tried to sell me four yams for $7. I bought two of the same damn yams at Fiesta for $1.98. A meat vendor said his beef was neither Prime nor Choice and could offer no reason why someone would buy it. He also had dozens of cuts listed, but said he only brought two. That said, the guy who yells about corn like a preacher and the people who sell those great mushrooms are always cool with me. The Dallas Farmers Market says its heart is in the right place. We’ll see what happens.
Beltline Farmers Market
101 Coit Road
10 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Sunday
This market is described as a European-style market, but this is basically anything goes in a shopping center parking lot. There are lots of sweets at this market like cookies, pies and caramels. There are also plenty of nonfood vendors selling anything from box guitars to African baskets and handmade Mexican jewelry. The diversity here is its greatest strength. It's interesting to sample a tamale, then hummus and baklava in one place — kind of like a Chinese restaurant that went crazy and started adding hamburgers and spaghetti to the buffet.
But within this mess is a legitimate farmers market with no shortage of produce, meats, cheeses and eggs. Milena’s Bakery & Pastry made a big impression here. This is a family business making cakes, pastry and cookies from scratch. Cupcakes, coconut macaroons, cannoli —everything from this vendor looked and tasted flawless. The owners spoke with disarming passion about how carefully they make these treats using natural and organic ingredients.
Carrollton Farmers Market
2722 N. Josey Lane, Carrollton
9 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Sunday
This is another farmers market in a parking lot, this time between a Petco and a Jack in the Box. But with 50 vendors, it covers all the essentials and a whole lot more: Produce, breads, tamales, jams, meats, olive oil, cheeses, beef jerky, salsa, anything you could possibly want at a farmers market and everything local. Everyone here somehow carried the friendly vibe you would look for in a pavilion or shed right next to the traffic of a Jack in the Box. Cotton candy made to order was too good to pass up. There are a ton of arts and crafts vendors at this market — embroidery, candles, garden rocks, even handmade high-end pens.