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Great new tastes, familiar favorites fill farmers market food courts

Courtesy: Boulder County Farmers Markets

People in shorts, freshly opened restaurant patios and blooming lilacs are strong hints that spring has finally returned to Boulder. The clearest sign of the season is a nose-grabbing aroma wafting from the food court at the Boulder Farmers Market.

It’s equal parts wood smoke and toasting paella rice, mingling with the scent of tortillas and green onions sizzling on griddles and freshly chopped cilantro, pickles and fresh fruit. It means Boulder’s signature al fresco dining destination is open and busy.  

For Frankie Ryder, marketing director for the Boulder and Longmont farmers’ markets, the food court is much more than just another culinary destination. Many of the food and beverage vendors form partnerships with the market’s farmers and use their locally grown produce in dishes as the season progresses.

“These vendors are all small, independent businesses run by local families,” Ryder says. “The revenue from these vendors selling ready-to-eat food is an essential part of making the markets financially viable.”  

Anchoring one end of the Boulder food court are two returning favorites: Lenin’s Wood-fired Pizza with its perfectly charred puffy crusts, and Rang Tang BBQ, home of smoky ribs. The crew at Pupusas Familia dishes those masa pancakes with various fillings and spicy curtido slaw while dark chicken mole is among big flavors tucked in corn tortillas at Tacos del Norte.

Louisville’s Gravity Brewing offers award-winning brews. Courtesy: Boulder County Farmers Markets 

The longest line at the Wednesday market snakes from the Savory Saigon booth, where diners are choosing between savory and sweet crepes, Vietnamese spring rolls, bowls of pho and banh mi packed with veggies.   

Several newer vendors are grabbing attention, too. Pick N Mix Bar offers fresh fruit bowls and smoothies. Rice & Shine Paella is dishing the classic aromatic Spanish rice dish topped with a choice of seafood, chicken, chorizo or veggies: The crispy rice from the bottom of the paella pan is a taste worth a visit by itself. BH Delicacies fascinates with Brazilian sweet and savory items including brigadeiro (sweet truffles) and creamy flan. 

The singular, don’t-miss Wednesday vendor is Rising Tiger, manned by the personable chef Devin Keopraphay. A longtime Longmont market favorite, Rising Tiger dishes a Taiwanese-American twist on scallion pancakes. It pairs well with a chilled ale from Louisville’s award-winning Gravity Brewing, one of the market’s regular brewery vendors.  

Other Wednesday stands offer vegan ice cream, snow cones, coffee drinks and an array of baked goods, including pie. The fare can be enjoyed on the nearby park lawn or at tented picnic tables near a guitarist playing familiar classics.  

The Saturday Longmont Farmers Market is a delightfully different shopping and dining experience than its Boulder sibling. The wide-open location at the Boulder County Fairgrounds abounds in ample elbow-room to park, stroll, sit in the shade and grab a bite.  

Best One Yet serves vegan ice cream to hungry martketgoers. Courtesy: Boulder County Farmers Markets

Longmont’s ready-to-eat lineup includes Amaizing Corn Tamales, Bruna’s Brazilian Cheese Bread, Pong Thai Cuisine, Rev’s Ribs, Pupusas Familia, Rising Tiger, The Schlop Stop and Weedhart Pies plus coffee, frozen treats and baked goods.  

The Saturday markets in Boulder and Longmont also offer changing pop-up food stands that give new businesses an opportunity to introduce themselves to locals. 

The Boulder Farmers Market is open 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays, 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays. The Longmont Farmers Market is open 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays.

Tastes of the week: Favorite market bites  

The food courts at the Boulder and Longmont markets are the ideal place to meet family, friends and co-workers for two good reasons. People of every dietary and taste persuasion can find a meal to love. And, if everybody grabs something from a different stand, you get to taste more of the authentic dishes available. 

My personal favorites from one visit to the Wednesday market included:  

Rang Tang BBQ’s smoky spice-coated burnt beef ends with mac-and-cheese 

BH Delicacies Brazilian chicken croquettes: savory fried pockets of creamy comfort food

Rising Tiger’s griddled scallion pancakes wrapped around sautéed green onions with char sui pork or tofu, cheese, eggs, spicy aioli and a sprinkle of chile flakes.  

Fresh mango and sticky rice from Pick N Mix Bar.


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