Eagle Rock Farmers Market: Fascinating Foods on Friday Nights [CLOSED]

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Eagle Rock Farmers Market incorporates experiences beyond just food.

There’s little doubt that the Wednesday Santa Monica Farmers Market assembles the most impressive produce in the Southland, but there are fringe farmers markets that actually offer more compelling prepared foods. Case in point: Eagle Rock’s Friday evening market.

A market sign touts “arts & crafts, fruits & vegetables, int’l food court, children’s zone.” That combination is indicative of Eagle Rock, a model Eastside community that houses Occidental College and plenty of young families. It’s interesting that the farmers market has so many elements, but I focused on the “int’l food court.”

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Eugene Hong started serving Hawaiian Chicken at farmers’ markets before opening a sit-down restaurant in Chinatown with brother Alex. Thankfully for marketgoers, Hong hasn’t forgotten his roots.

Coal-fuel flames licked at rows of rotating spice-rubbed yardbirds.

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The small “plate” of boneless marinated chicken ($7) probably packed more flavor than the rotisserie poultry, and dark meat was especially juicy.

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Whole butterflied rotisserie chickens cost $12. Bronzed skin could have been crisper, and the chicken touted fairly moist meat, but the highlight had to be addictive red dipping sauce flecked with red chilies and garlic.

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Aracelli “Ara” Alfaro and husband Julio have been market regulars for six years. Ara’s Kitchen specializes in “authentic” Salvadoran food and claims to be “where the good stuff comes from.”

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Ara’s Kitchen has gained acclaim for their aguas frescas: Melon Madness (light yellow), Magical Watermelon (red), Mindbending Lime (green), Cup O’ Lightning (yellow) and Original Salvadoran Horchata.

Cup O’ Lightning was outstanding, combining sweet pineapple, bits of tart green apple and mango; Horchata was a little too watery, but combined vanilla, cinnamon, coco and morro seeds to flavorful effect.

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Ara grills 12 varieties of pupusas, all containing cheese. Pupusas are available with beans, pork, chicken, beef, mushrooms, spinach and jalapeño, to name seven; Julio suggested a shrimp and potato pupusa ($5).

The cornmeal pancake came with a nice char, containing plump shrimp, chunks of firm potato and pockets of oozing cheese. Ara will ask whether you want your pupusa with curtido (vinegary slaw), hot sauce and sour cream. You should certainly opt for at least the first two, which contribute nice tang and spice.

Ara’s has more interesting options to explore, including some seriously tempting fried plantains, and the rest of the market has other intriguing bites. Eagle Rock is a known hub for Filipino-Americans, and the market had a good-looking Filipino food stall. There will definitely be a return visit.


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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