Friday, February 12, 2016

THE original Central Market with playground and free concerts

No matter how many new Central Market locations open, none can replicate the vibe of the original North Lamar location.  There’s that intangible je ne sais quoi which sets Austin apart from all other Texas cities, and you just feel it when you come to this Central Market.  The store is a destination unto itself, like walking through a hip farmer’s market with all the awesome food samples, fresh baked breads, produce.  I love Whole Foods too, but there’s just something about this Central Market that still feels like it hasn’t been commercialized even if it has.  Add that fantastic playground under big shady trees and the weekly live music, this is a great family outing.

My kids and I like to come here on a weekday morning, right as Central Market opens to beat the crowds, but we’ll brave the crowds on Saturday evenings or Sunday afternoons to listen to the musicians.  I say brave it because the parking lot never seems to have as many spaces as there are people wanting to come here, and when you have two kids in the car, even a 5 minute looping around the parking lot, vulturing for a spot, can feel like an eternity.

There are two play scapes at the CM playground.  One is designed for the 5+ group, and there is a second playscape that is lower to the ground that is perfect for the toddling and preschool kids.  My one year old crawled his way easily around the smaller playscape, and even though there are a few openings, it was easy enough for me to move from one to another to prevent him from tumbling off.  (The Central Market down south in Westgate does not have a playground.)

Next to the playground is the Central Market cafe, but you could just as easily go inside the store and pick up food from the produce/deli/bakery or the “to go” foods in the refrigerated cases or counter.  I do have to say though that I was a little disappointed in the breakfast at Central Market, where the children’s plate of scrambled eggs and bacon was $4, which seemed pricy for the amount of food.  The breakfast tacos run about $2.75 and a large breakfast burrito for $7.  I still like the lunches and dinners, but the breakfast, you might be better off just going inside the market and picking up goodies from the bakery.  No outside food or drinks are permitted.

And for the parents…the restrooms are located inside the cafe, close to the playground.  There is additional seating inside (and upstairs) for those who don’t want to want the heat, bugs, or grackles.

The calendar of events for Central Market events are posted on their website here.

Central Market (north Lamar)
4001 N. Lamar Blvd.
Austin, TX 78756
(512) 206-1000

Store hours: 8 am to 10 pm
Cafe hours: 7 am to 9 pm Sunday – Thursday, 7 am to 10 pm Friday – Saturday

Central Market (south – Westgate)
4477 S. Lamar Blvd.
Austin, TX 78745
(512) 899-4300

Store hours: 8 am to 10 pm
Cafe hours: 7 am to 9 pm Sunday – Thursday, 7 am to 10 pm Friday – Saturday

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