Where's the toughest place to park in St. Louis? Downtown for a Cardinals game? Try Schlafly Bottleworks on Wednesday afternoons when hordes of hungry St. Louisans descend upon the Maplewood Farmers' Market for the freshest, tastiest produce in town. Arrive after the market begins at 4 p.m. — it runs till 7 p.m., but you'll want to get there as early as possible to nab the best stuff — and you will come to know the side streets around the Bottleworks very well as you cruise for a spot. The market offers an incredible array of vendors packed into a relatively small space: fresh fruit and vegetables from Claverach, Biver, Berger Bluff and Centennial farms; pork, lamb and chicken from Farrar Out, Prairie Grass and Hinkebein Hills farms; cured meat from Salume Beddu, cheese from Baetje Farms and much, much more. But it's not only the great food that draws such a crowd. The tight quarters, occasional lines and ever-changing selection encourage conversation, letting consumers get to know one another as well as the farmers who grow their food. Grab a beer from the bar and you'll feel so danged convivial you might not want to leave. You should, eventually, though. Someone's waiting for your parking spot.
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