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Lunch at the market: Broadway Tacoma Farmers Market

Healthy, high-quality farm goods and locally handmade craft products

BROADWAY TACOMA FARMERS MARKET: A touch of street fair vibe hangs in the air. Photography by Steve Dunkelberger

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Thursday is one of the busiest days of my week, from sunrise to sunset and then some. Yet I carve out time for the magic that starts early in the morning and lasts until late afternoon every Thursday on Broadway in downtown Tacoma at the beloved Broadway Tacoma Farmers Market, an impromptu pedestrian foot mall that has sprung up for last 21 years. 

Among other positive qualities, a touch of street fair vibe hangs in the air at the Broadway Tacoma Farmers Market, and I always get a giggle out of watching kids as they spy the balloon guy. Each Thursday is a mini-reunion with friends and acquaintances; hugs and laughs abound. Last week I ran into the always-kind Morgan Alexander, owner of Amocat Cafe and a fellow market fan. "The pretzel booth is my favorite. They're not here today, so my instant new favorite of the day are the mini doughnuts," he tells me. Alexander's positive attitude epitomizes the Broadway Tacoma Farmers Market.

From the farm

No chemical fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides are used at Lee's Fresh Produce, a small, 30-acre farm in the Kent/Renton area. Bags of sugar pea greens were piled between fragrant cilantro and rhubarb stalks. I snagged cilantro for $2. That's more than I'd pay at Albertson's, but I like knowing it's ultra fresh, knowing where it came from and that my money is going straight to the grower.

Former University Place resident George Fleck of Ayala Family Farms (Yakima Valley) offered bundles of red radishes, asparagus and huge green onions lined up in tidy fashion on his table.

Eat it there

The folks behind the Broadway Tacoma Farmers Market are very serious about only allowing vendors who offer healthy, high-quality farm goods and locally handmade craft products. That means you won't find foot-long corndogs, but will get to try tasty lumpia from Lumpia World.

A Philippine food with a Chinese background, lumpia consists of minced seasoned meat and vegetables rolled up in an edible wrapper, which is then dunked quickly in oil to create a crisp outer shell while the inside stays moist. The $6 combo offered by Lumpia World includes four lumpia (with an option of vegetarian, ginger pork, lemongrass chicken or seasoned ground steak stuffing); a scoop of white rice topped with sesame seeds and finely crumbled seaweed in sesame oil; and dipping sauces of peanut hoisin, and garlic vinegar and sweet chili. The food booth was mobbed. Cooked fresh every time, orders were taking 5-10 minutes. People (mostly women) seemed cool with waiting. U.P. resident Kaleo Gonzalez and the  two other charming, good-looking guys manning the Lumpia World booth may have had something to do with the sudden outbreak of patience.

Hitting the Dr. Terry's Pies booth is a must. Not only is Dr. Terry a super-nice, smiley guy, his pies are to die for. After some arm-twisting (yeah, right) I purchased a slice of dreamy, creamy peanut butter chocolate pie for $4.99. That's basically what you'd pay in an average restaurant for dessert, but you wouldn't get the humorous conversation Dr. Terry gives out for free. 

Special made

About a year ago an enterprising young couple from Kent began hawking bacon online and at farmers markets under the moniker Bacon Forever. It's genius really. The couple sells jerky-style bacon, bacon pastries and, drum roll please, chocolate-dipped bacon. Uh, yeah, you heard right: chocolate and bacon. Get down on that! I immediately forked over $2 for a piece. That paltry sum was well worth it for the enjoyment of slowly nibbling savory, naturally salty bacon and thick, sweet chocolate. I intended to take it home, but it never made it off Broadway. Note to self: next time get two.

Broadway Tacoma Farmers Market

Thursdays through Oct. 27, 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Broadway between South 9th and 11th St., Tacoma

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