At 9am sharp, every day of the week, a brass bell peals out across the ground floor of LA’s Homer Laughlin Building and the Grand Central Market opens for business. A downtown institution since 1917, the market is a neon-lit treasure cove of gastronomic delights from around the world. Everywhere you look, there’s a surface groaning with food: piles of dried ancho chiles, bursting bags of cherries, and tureens of fresh, lime-doused ceviche.
My advice? Go hungry, and sample a little of everything (you might need a roll in tandem with an equally greedy friend). Slurp down a deep bowl of the House wonton soup at China Café, which comes with chicken, sliced roasted pork, shrimp, bok choy, and even a hard boiled egg. Or split a succulent carne asada taco at Tacos Tumbras A Tomas, then enjoy the hot, gooey delight of a cheese and shrimp pupusa at Sarita’s Pupuseria (the milky, sweet horchata is not to be missed). The chile-flecked dried mango from La Huerta makes for a nice souvenir to take home.
But it’s not all $2 tacos and vats of fried plantain. This part of Los Angeles is rapidly gentrifying (for evidence, see the impending launch of The Broad contemporary art museum, and the forthcoming Ace Hotel) and the Market is changing with it. These days, you can get a Prosciutto, Pear & Goat Cheese Croissant at Silverlake transplant Valerie, or enjoy a perfect almond milk cappuccino at the gleaming white counter of the newly-opened G&B Coffee. Go, explore, and enjoy the relative peace and quiet while you can: Grand Central Market might feel off-the-radar right now, but it won’t stay that way for long.