Every week, I drive down to the Irvine farmers' market to do my weekly shopping. While it's an outstanding market and one of the highlights of my weekend, there are other markets in Orange County, and this week we headed to Lido Isle for the Newport Beach farmers' market.
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The first thing you'll notice is that the market is very light on produce. Where most markets concentrate on produce, this market concentrates on other things, which makes it a great complement to the Irvine market. It may be due to the season or due to the relative youth of the market (it opened in July of this year), but there needs to be more produce to make this a true destination market.
Once you get past that, though, there are some items that are conspicuously missing from other large markets in the area. There is a meat vendor who has pork, lamb, chicken and beef, in many, many different varieties; there's California olive oil; there's fish. Picnic Deli in Costa Mesa brings some outstanding artisanal cheeses, American and foreign, to the market, with plenty of samples, and they make chopped liver with the livers from the chickens down the way. Picket Lane Bakery brings outstanding baguettes (the best in the county), brioches and pastries, and if you get hungry you can stop for an Afghan flatbread filled with herbs or pumpkin.
Honestly, if they had more produce, this would be the closest thing in Orange County to a French open-air market.
The market is 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sundays, on Via Oporto, just off Newport Blvd. on the approach to Lido Isle. Unusually for Newport Beach, parking in the lot is free for the first hour and $0.50 per 20 minutes thereafter. There is also street parking.