I enjoy visiting local markets to get a vibe of what the locals are eating. And today we are at the Grand Central Market in L.A.
Grand Central Market showcases California’s best ingredients, chefs, and entrepreneurs in a 30,000 square-foot arcade that encompasses a food emporium and retail marketplace.
When the doors first opened in October 1917, the “Wonder Market,” as it was then called, was billed as “the largest and finest public market on the Pacific Coast.” It filled the entire ground floor of the Beaux-Arts-style Homer Laughlin Building, the region’s first steel-reinforced, fireproof structure. At the time, Los Angeles was the country’s tenth-most-populous city—and downtown was the epicenter of a flourishing metropolis.
Today, the Market’s 40 stalls are home to an only-in-LA blend of legacy vendors like China Cafe and Roast To Go (Grand Central Market tenants for over half a century), rising stars such as Ramen Hood, and success stories from the city’s buzzing food scene. The Market is a microcosm of the historic immigrant communities that have shaped Los Angeles and a mosaic of the creativity and vision of the people who call this city home.
There’s always something for everyone. The Donut Man has been serving up high quality delicious treats for nearly 50 years. And the freshly made donuts were so tempting, I had to move quickly away before I succumbed to the temptation.
And it’s not all just food stalls, there are many groceries that provide to LA locals their daily culinary needs.
Valeria’s is a one-stop shop for Latin dry goods offering an extensive selection of dried chilies, spices, and beans, as well as fresh moles, New Mexico pine nuts, dried bacalao, and canned specialties. I was simply amazed by the varieties of chilli that was available.
And there are neons signs everywhere. Relax and enjoy looking at the neon signs around the market.
Jonathan Gold was an American food critic and music critic. He was for many years the chief food critic for the Los Angeles Times and also wrote for LA Weekly and Gourmet. His silhouette can be seen everywhere on the lamppost around Broadway Street.
Ten bicycle racks, funded by the Community Redevelopment Agency’s Downtown Cultural Trust Fund, were installed in downtown in 1995 and 1996 as part of “The Bike Stops Here” project. Molina, a student of Southern California Institute of Architecture installed his bike rack at a dynamic and historic point near the property line on the sidewalk along Broadway dividing the Grand Central Market from the Million Dollar Theater. Two intersecting arches, capped by a pair of pig heads cast in steel from a head purchased at the Grand Central Market, are embellished with cast fruit.
The representation of foods sold in the market transforms the functional bike rack into a symbolic place-maker marking the site’s importance, introducing the market and its surroundings, and capturing the heterogeneous culture of the city.
Just around the corner of the block behind the Mexican looking building is a Victor Clothing Co. mural on the opposite side of 3rd Street. It shows Anthony Quinn cavorting for his favourite clothing line.
Entrance via Hill Street
If you are coming from California Plaza towards Grand Central Market, which is the most likely route for a tourist as you are going to the museums around there, you have a cute way of reaching the market via Hill Street.
Just get over to the Angel’s Flight Railway, it’s on the 5th floor of California Plaza, and you can go down and up from Olive Street to Hill Street for $1 each way. Buy return tickets and you get a ticket stub as a souvenir for the ride.
Everything is restored from the originals, and the funicular cars (it’s no exactly a railroad) have been in used since 1901. It has changed many hands, but now it will be preserved as a historical site by private and public funding.
It is a simple and elegant design. There are two entrances on each end of the car, one opening towards Olive Street and the other towards Hill Street. A pulley system pulls the car up and down the three-rail system. Two cars work in tandem so the two share the middle rail with a middle section that splits for one going up and one going down to avoid each other.
And finally you reached the other entrance on Hill Street. There’s no ticket inspector there, just a metal turntable gate. And to go up, you just hop onto the funicular and pay on your way out if you cannot show the ticket stub that you received as a proof of a return ticket. Clever!
Grand Central Market
317 S Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90013, United States
Visited Sep 2022