Like I mentioned in this post, I’ll be in Atlanta for all of June and July. My resolution — we’ll see if I keep it — is to write a weekly (or close to weekly) post about things to do in the ATL (see how urban I am?).
This week I just had to post about one of my favorite places in Atlanta: Dekalb Farmers Market. The Dekalb part because it’s in Dekalb County, one of the bazillion counties that make up metro Atlanta; the Farmers Market part because… well, actually it’s a bit of a misnomer… stay with me:
When I think of farmers markets, I think of a place that is open-air, with different vendors from all over, each specializing in a different type of food or good. While DFM definitely has more than its share of local and even organic foods, there are no individual vendors — in this way, it’s more like a traditional grocery store. However what makes it even better than a regular grocery store are the prices and the freshness of the foods and goods (and like I said, they have a lot of organic and local food).
To explain the majesty that is DFM, let’s take a tour…
(Alas, photography is “strictly forbidden” inside the store, but I did get this picture outside.)
DFM has more quirks per square foot than most stores I’ve ever been to. Even when you pull into the parking lot, you’re faced with “one way only” and “park this way” signs to maximize efficiency (I guess). As it turns out, I’m not the only one who likes DFM, and more often than not, their parking lot is close to full.
Once you park, you can get a shopping cart and go in one of the “entrance only” entrances (and they’re pretty serious about this and have some tough security to enforce it. The security measures don’t stop there; when you enter, you have to surrender all big bags, including empty, reusable shopping bags (in an effort to reduce shrink).
Before you start shopping — and if you’re hungry — there’s a pay per pound, cafeteria style restaurant in the front. It’s a hot and cold bar to rival that of Whole Foods’ and it’s uber cheap (and tres Internationale). Aside from their international selections (including their signature samosas), they also have lots of other unique offerings, MANY of which are vegetarian.
After you’ve eaten (or not), I recommend starting at the far right side of the market in the produce section. DFM has one of the largest varieties of produce that I’ve ever seen and (again) super cheap! Along with the fruits and vegetables, they also have homemade juice (preservative free) as well as a pineapple cutting station (they actually remove the skin and and top and bottom for you, so that’s pretty fancy).
On the periphery of the produce section, there’s a huge selection of spices, DFM pasta and grains, dried fruits, nuts, snacks, and condiments. If you go a bit further, you’ll see an excellent selection of beers and wines, many of which I’ve only ever seen at DFM. (Think foreign words.)
Once you’re done in the produce section, the next area is the baked goods section. This is perhaps one of the more exciting sections for me, because all of the baked goods are inexpensive, baked daily on the premises, preservative-free, and… Delicious. They have all kinds of bread, focaccia, naan, bagels, muffins, cookies, pastries, and croissants (their chocolate croissants are out of control). And I’m pretty sure I’ve only listed a few of their options. If you’re not sure about a certain loaf of bread or whatever (they have some unique varieties), they have samples available in the front of the baked goods section. Yes, this is a particularly dangerous section for most people.
Next up is the refrigerated section, where they have meats, an enormous seafood section (which explains the sometimes fishy smell that prevails), a deli counter, organic dairy products, homemade DFM recipe pastas, soups, sauces, and other delights, and so much more.
Towards the front of the store, near the bag check-in they have freshly ground coffee, freshly ground peanut, almond, and cashew butter (as in, you do it yourself with those little crank machines), a florist, another mini bakery with cupcakes and other desserts (cash only), and a random kitchen supply shop with gourmet and boutique style stuff (it’s very much a Sesame Street “one of these things is not like the other one” moment).
The checkout process is also a unique one: there are no conveyer belts, only a teeny tiny way-too-small counter and you just sort of unload groceries as room becomes available. They’re also very peculiar about you putting things back in your cart, lest you try to steal something. I’d suggest you take their lead in this unusual process and go with the flow.
Again, I wish I could’ve taken pictures, but that’s a big no no. (And I have this fear that I’ll commit some major Dekalb Farmers Market faux pas and then they’ll ban me for life. Or something.)
DFM, for all it’s homemade/organic/budget-friendly magic, can also be a bit overwhelming. And if you go on a weekend or right after school/work on a weekday, woe unto you. I recommend as early in the morning as you can stand (they open at 9 a.m.) or a weekday (if your schedule permits). It’s a great place, but the crowds of people and rogue shopping carts can get the best of you (Ikea type meltdowns have been know to happen).
So whether your live in metro Atlanta or if you’re just passing through, I definitely recommend a stop! But they take cash, checks, and debit cards only — no credit cards.
For more info about Dekalb Farmer’s Market, as well as a full list of vendors and available items, go to their website.