Saturday mornings are a special time for me wherever I am because I can usually find an outdoor market. I love markets and everything about them, from trying locally grown produce to sipping great coffee and just relaxing. I’ve been to a lot of markets in and out of the U.S. and each one has its own signature trait but whenever I go I always come across something I wasn’t expecting. For example, the Borough Market in London is known for its size and being one of the largest in the world, but they also have some of the best coffee I’ve tasted from a small place called Monmouth Coffee. The Ferry Building market in San Francisco where I visited recently was proudly displaying their breads all over the place and even though I knew I had to get a loaf of sourdough when I was there, some locals were telling me I had to try the specialty meats from a local farm owner. As for Phoenix, there are a growing number of Saturday morning markets these days but Vincent’s Market on Camelback will always be one of my favorites.
I think the reason I frequent Vincent’s Camelback Market is the fact that I’ve never been to one that put such a large focus on the meals. Every market has its share of clothing, craft or jewelry vendor but few have so many people cooking the local ingredients in front of you. At Vincent’s, you can get a crepe, pizza, panini, omelette and tons of other things made just for you right there. It’s almost as if the restaurant behind them was turned inside out and instead of sitting in a dimly lit room, you can enjoy the sunny weather outside at a little table with your mimosas. Yes that’s right, you can get mimosa table service outside with a giant “menu” to go with it. Maybe that’s the reason I frequent this place.
Let me walk you through your options starting from the front entrance which we rode our bikes to, making for a great start to the day. To your immediate right will be all their local vegetables and fruit including fresh strawberries, eggplant, greens and sometimes something new that’s in season. If you buy a fruit, a fun thing to do is to have them wash it and then bring it to the crepe station where they can include it in your meal. Talk about fresh. Moving on you’ll come across a pastry case full of delicious treats like apple tarts, croissants, huge macaroons and chocolate brownies. It’s easy to spend money here though so be careful!
Down the table you’ll usually find samples of olive oil, salsa or something you can dip into to whet your appetite. They also recently started selling fresh fish here and they have about 5 coolers full of different varieties. If you’re planning on sitting down and enjoying the day though, they’ll keep it on ice for you until you’re ready to leave. Now moving on there’s a gap before the next tent but look to your left and you’ll find the man with the champagne hidden behind some trees and tables ready to give you your own bucket with ice and a bottle. He also sells freshly squeezed orange juice from one of the other vendors to go with the champagne, and I highly recommend you get this. The fresh juice full of pulp makes for a great mimosa and gives the drink a whole new level.
At this point you’re around the middle section of the market but there are way more vendors in the second half so keep on venturing. In the second half you’ll find made to order omelettes and pasta. You can choose to add as much as you want to these and your options include things like fresh basil (some of the best I’ve had), prosciutto and a big selection of cheeses. We got their ravioli in a tomato sauce with fresh basil and parmesan cheese. It was absolutely delicious and the sauce is top notch.
Towards the back Vincent has a wood fired pizza oven on wheels that put my attempt at making one last year to shame. This thing cranks out thin crust pizzas every 4 minutes so you don’t have to wait long. There are about a dozen types you can get ranging from the basic margherita to inventive ones with avocado and bacon.
This time we went with a simple four cheese pizza that literally made everyone sit back in their chairs after the first bite and just smile. It had mozzarella, brie, bleu and goat cheeses all on top of a basil pesto and it delivered a great taste. The only problem is that I could eat 3 of these and be out $25 in 30 minutes.
The back of the market also houses some locally produced honey, frozen pasta to take home and a cookie mix made by Brophy’s Calculus Club plus more. However, don’t leave before you’ve ordered a crepe from Vincent’s son. You can find him in the middle where there’s usually a large line of people waiting. There are two types of crepe you can order: a savory crepe with a long list of fillings to choose from or a sweet crepe with an even longer menu. Needing dessert to go with the remainder of our mimosas, we tried to stump him with a fairly large order. We asked for a crepe filled with nutella, bananas, blueberry puree and topped with powdered sugar. He looked at us and just politely said “You want all of that in one crepe?”. We nodded yes and he set off on making what turned out to be a big folded crepe that turned heads as we walked back to our table. Needless to say, it was damn good. The perfect end to a great Saturday morning.
Vincent’s Camelback Market is located on Camelback just west of 40th St. It’s open from 9am-1pm on Saturdays and goes until May 21st this year. Make sure to pay them a visit!
Tip: Grab a table on your way in if possible because they go fast and people stay for a while.
Vincent’s On Camelback
3930 E. Camelback Rd.
Phoenix, AZ 85018