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Lunch at the Market: Convenience on the Ave

You can't deny the bounty offered by the Sixth Avenue Farmers Market

PLENTY TO OFFER: Tacoma Bagel's Lauren Dunning makes a vegetable bagel sandwich during the Sixth Avenue Farmers Market. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

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In the heart of the Sixth Ave Business District, and one-of-a-kind in our area, the afternoon/evening Sixth Avenue Farmers Market is truly something to be grateful for. From 3:30-7 p.m. each Tuesday a small part of North Pine Street becomes a stage for lazily meandering families, kids, dogs, strollers, singles and teens. The popular after work destination creates an opportunity to tackle the weekly grocery run without setting foot in a building - a serious plus on a day filled with sunshine. At just a few years old, this farmers market achieved popularity almost instantly.

From the farm

Dear Mother Earth: I'm writing you a love letter this month to say I'm sorry for being so impatient earlier this spring and summer. Many of the things I've been gastro-lusting after are right before me at the Sixth Ave Farmers Market. Tomatoes so very red they scream, "I'm sweet and delicious," and exquisite purple eggplants beg for an olive oil brushing before being grilled. I can't possibly turn down deep green and purple monster kale - that's kale chips in the making. Huge onions, scallions and leeks are perfect for a light, creamy rice soup.

Besides farmers market vending, the 35-acre Puyallup Valley farm Zestful Gardens also does CSA (weekly fresh produce delivery).  My eyes dance along the fresh produce as I create a menu for the week in my head. I yank my rolled up, recycled shopping bag from my purse (I never leave home without it) and say, "Fill'er up please." Bunches of baby bok choy ($3), frilly-edged green leaf lettuce ($2.50) and aromatic fennel bulbs ($1.50) from organic Tahoma Farms (Orting) join eggplant, tomatoes and baseball-size nectarines from Ayala Family Farms (Yakima) land in my bag. The total cost was higher than Safeway, Albertson's or Met Market.  Here's how I mentally make it work; money saved in gas plus drive time goes to supporting local farmers and me eating pesticide-free produce. Win-win.

Eat it there

The curry scent in the air from Gateway to India's hot food booth hijacked my ability to reason. Though grilled salmon from Three Chicks Catering was probably less fattening, I went with Gateway's butter chicken ladled over basmati rice with chopped red onion sprinkled over the top. Eight dollars gets you an entire to-go container filled to the top. A fluttering red and white checkered tablecloth caught me eye; I was thrilled to see Old Milwaukee Café & Dessert Company representing at the Sixth Ave Farmers Market. Owners Patricia and Chad Kerth offer warm smiles and friendly banter as I select a hefty slice of blackberry pie ($4) from many tempting sweets.

Special made

In existence for just over a month, Purdy Pickle Company is so new it still has that new pickle smell. Sis La Vigne and Gail Reid have teamed up for PPC and are turning out a pretty fine jar of pickled beets. At $5 per eight-ounce jar, it's a little steep for what's essentially one chopped up beet, but the taste is worth it. Cute slogan "Purdy good pickles" made me chuckle. Across the way, I withstood the siren call of Bacon Forever. At The Daily Bagel booth, I scored cranberry-orange and garlic-onion bagels. Soft cookies as big as my face are only $1.50, but I resist.

North 7th Street resident Stacey Ellison says she doesn't mind not being able to park in front of her apartment after work on Tuesdays. "The market puts me a block away, but I'm glad it's here," says Ellison. "I only go to the grocery store once a month or so during the summer. It's super convenient and I just move my car later."

Sixth Avenue Farmers Market

3:30-7 p.m., Tuesday, June to September
at Pine Street and Sixth Avenue, Tacoma

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Comments for "Lunch at the Market: Convenience on the Ave" (2)

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Chris said on Aug. 14, 2011 at 12:28pm

Nice write-up about the market - too bad you "withstood the siren call" of our delicious bacon goodies...or are we to assume the writer is a vegetarian? It's okay, we go by a live and let live philosophy. If we're wrong and you do enjoy bacon, come by and say hi at Bacon Forever - we have uniquely delicious bacon pastries (cookies, brownies, all with bacon!), and our heavenly chocolate-covered bacon too! We even have - wait for it - samples of our bacon jerky! After all, it makes everything better! For more information, please visit

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Jennifer Johnson said on Aug. 19, 2011 at 3:40pm

I love bacon, especially the chocolate-dipped kind made by Bacon Forever that I discovered and wrote about back in May. Read about that here:
However, if I want my pants to continue to button up, I can't eat it every time I see a BF booth, which is often since they're at a few area farmers markets.

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