I jumped from my seat when the recorded voice on the Metro said to get out at the Pershing Square stop for a visit to Grand Central Market. For some reason, I was going to make it to Union Station but changed my mind at the last minute.
The rain sprinkled my camera lens during the short walk from the station to the market. I wiped the lens with my shirt before entering the place that has been “feeding Los Angeles” since 1917.
I was ready for the sensory overload.
A Visit to the Grand Central Market
You may ask why a visit to the Grand Central Market in Downtown Los Angeles is a must.
I do not even have to pause for thought before answering. There are a lot of things that captivate in there.
The gloomy feeling given by the low lights. The neon signs. The lively vendors. The many food stalls. The food displays. The stacks of bread and pastries. The right amount of shadiness and grittiness that is felt in some corners.
The amalgam of sights, sounds, and smells was electrifying. Since my first visit, I have been a loyal fan and visit as often as possible. I recommend you stop by if you are within the perimeter of Downtown Los Angeles.
Yes, there are a lot of options in terms of cuisines at the Grand Central Market. Even if you dying of hunger, I suggest walking the entire market before settling for a dish. If there are several people in your party, it makes sense to buy different things and share.
Here are some of my favorite stalls:
I have one word for you: currywurst. It is delicious, addictive and all the ridiculous words you can think about.
As the establishment name implies, you can create your own version of currywurst by choosing a sausage type, sauce, and heat level. Or, you can have your sausage in a bun with a side of sauerkraut or beet salad.
The menu is simple but the following is large. This restaurant has been able to elevate the egg to a totally different level.
The serve sandwiches consisting of
- Ham or sausage, egg, and cheese
- Scramble eggs
- Egg Salad
In addition, they sell a burger on their characteristic brioche bun, a coddled egg over potato puree and biscuits.
That is pretty much it. However, they do these things so well that you have to stand in line to get them.
Ramen Hood has excellent reviews and that tells you a lot about the quality and taste of the food served.
The interesting thing is that their ramen offerings are vegan (based on a sunflower seed broth). You can choose between the original or spicy version and add extras like bean sprouts, scallions, mushroom, and nori.
This is the try pupusas in as many flavors as you want. Other than the traditional flavors (beans, cheese, pork, loroco (flower bud)), you can try creations such as garlic, broccoli, basil, and shrimp.
They serve trip soup, fried yucca, beef stew, and fried fish too.
I adore this place! The freshness and vibrancy of the ingredients are felt at first bite.
They have on the menu shrimp ceviche, fish ceviche, octopus and mixed tostadas. Plus, a seafood cocktail or soup, an aguachile or a variety of tacos.
Olio Wood Fired Pizza
Sounds crazy but there is even a wood powered oven at the market.
Inside they cook some mean Margherita, pepperoni, Hawaiian and meatball (my favorite) pizzas. Definitely, stop by if you are craving the feel-good sensation only pizza can offer.
Do not forget about dessert! They have two types of focaccias: chocolate and roasted apple.
Tacos Tumbras a Tomas
Of the different Mexican places on the market, this is the best choice. They offer tacos, tostadas, burritos, tortas, gorditas and combination plates filled with your choice of carnitas (pork), asada (beef), al pastor (marinated pork), snout, head, tongue or chicken.
Do not miss the Cuban torta! I know it is hard to choose in here.
DTLA Cheese and Kitchen
This stall sells a wide variety of cheeses from different regions of the world. You can take home some recommendations from the passionate staff.
Or, you can sit down and enjoy one of their sampler plates, salads, sandwiches or cheesy potato creations. I am such a fan of cheese. Feel like the market wouldn’t be complete without this place.
The Oyster Gourmet
This is one of my husband’s favorite places to eat in the market. From the name, we know it sells oysters (sourced from the West Coast). However, clams, sea urchin, raw fish, and shrimp are available as well.
The Oyster Gourmet’s owner has served oysters in the most noteworthy restaurants, hotels, and events in Los Angeles. In short, the quality here is top notch.
McConnell’s Fine Ice Cream
If you have a sweet tooth, make sure to stop by McConnell’s. This chain, established in Santa Barbara, serves delicious ice cream in flavors such as Turkish coffee, toasted coconut almond chip, chocolate covered strawberries, and banana & salted caramel. I am giving you a small idea of what they offer. There is much more to try.
The ice cream is made from milk obtained from cows from the Central Coast. No yucky stuff is added so, the taste is great!
I cannot write about the market without mentioning fried chicken!
At Lucky Bird, you can order 3 or 5 pieces of chicken, chicken & waffles and chicken sandwiches. These offerings are hard to resist. The crunchy skin keeps me revisiting this place.
This is another place I like a lot. Like most stalls on the market, the menu is simple but full of flavor. They serve falafel and chicken sandwiches, Greek salad, Morrocan salad, fries, hummus, tahini, and labneh.
Don’t tell anybody but I have eaten two sandwiches at once.
Location and Directions
Grand Central Market is located on Broadway between 3rd and 4th Streets. The exact address is 317 South Broadway.
You can access the market by car, ride-sharing services, bus, bike or train.
The closest Metro (Train) Station is Perching Square (less than 2 blocks away). Other stations in Downtown Los Angeles include 7th Street, Civic Center/Grand Park, and Union Station. The train is an easy way to reach from popular areas like Santa Monica, Culver City, and Hollywood.
If you arrive by car, there are several parking lots around the market. Watch out since prices range from $15 to $25. It may be a better idea to park a bit away where lots charge a $15 fee. Parking tends to be cheaper after 3:00 p.m. and during weekends (except when special activities are taking place).
You can rent a bike using the Metro Bike Share Program. Check their website to find the nearest station (there are about 5 close to the market).
More of Downtown Los Angeles
I have written extensively about what to do and see in Downtown in Los Angeles. Make sure you take a look at my guide if you want to spend one or two days in the area (or if you want to learn more about it, I am talking to you residents).
More of Los Angeles
Since I adore my city, I have extensive coverage of it. Feel free to keep exploring using the articles below.
One Day in LA: Itinerary for First-Time Visitors
More of Southern California
Do you enjoy markets? What do you think about this one?