Housed on the ground floor of the Homer Laughlin Building in downtown Los Angeles’ Historic Core District, Grand Central Market is just plain fun. Drivers can park in the lot marked with fruits on every level, the metro and bus routes are close as well as the “Shortest Railway in the World” Angels Flight. However you get there, it’s worth the trip. Once inside these vendors entice hungry shoppers with carnitas tacos at La Morelianas or pupusas at Sarita’s. Locals fill the counter every morning at China Café. Now Grand Central Market is welcoming six new stalls to their ranks, ready to serve up world-class coffee drinks, Thai Street Food, classic diner fare, BBQ, and soon, oysters and cheese. These new vendors bring some new artisanal offerings to the mix, in a market filled with historic charm, neon signs, and traditional vendors who have made the landmark a destination for years.
As if all of the news additions weren’t enough excitement, Grand Central Market just announced that the popular breakfast focused food truck Eggslut will join the market later this summer. Order the Fairfax sandwich, trust me.
Grand Central Market
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Starting out on Hill Street, the same side of the market where cars enter the parking lot, the new G&B Coffee sports a very long coffee bar helmed by some of the world’s most talented baristas. Opened by Kyle Glanville and Charles Babinski, G&B is the place to go for expertly-made filter coffees and sublime espresso drinks. If you are in the mood for something sweet, try the coffee milkshake made with McConnell’s ice cream and espresso. Drink your coffee with a full view of Angels Flight or sit inside the market. Grand Central Market offers free Wi-Fi.
Next stop, Valeria’s is known for their diverse selection of dried chilies, including chile chipotle morita, chile de arbol, chile costeño, chile puya, and chile japones. From Sriracha to Nutella, the wall at Valeria’s is lined with grocery items and well as bins of rice, beans, and spices. The sales people wear bold red aprons and help scoop up and weigh the chilies for their customers.
Next, turn the corner just north of Valeria’s to find Sarita’s. For more than 15 years, made-to-order pupusas at Sarita have been known as ‘worth the trip’ to Grand Central Market. Sara Clark has been griddling up made-to-order pupusas at Grand Central Market with a family recipe from her native El Salvador. These hand-stuffed tortillas can be paired with 19 options, including everything from pork beans and cheese to the edible flower loroco. Pupusas are served with a seriously spicy slaw. Sit at the counter or grab a plate to enjoy at one of the many market tables.
Valerie at Grand Central Market
Just east of Sarita’s, a new lunch counter has joined the market family. Valerie Gordon, known for her artisanal chocolates and world-class pastries, transformed a market stall into her utopian version of a diner lunch counter. The menu is full of classics: club and egg salad sandwiches, cobb salad, Let’s Be Frank hot dogs, and savory hand pies. Don’t forget dessert. Cookies, Blum’s Coffee Crunch cake, Brown Derby Grapefruit cake are served alongside daily pie offerings. Go hungry and come back often because specials rotate and get added as Valerie continues to be inspired by serving diner-style food with fresh local seasonal ingredients.
Still hungry? Well, either start here or come another day because Chef Johnny Lee’s Sticky Rice is crazy delicious. Locally-made Thai sausages are served with traditional accoutrements. Lee also makes delicious BBQ chicken with sticky rice, daily curries, and spicy beef salad. This new lunch counter has already has won over legions of fans so come early or wait patiently — it’s worth it. Or come for breakfast — the congee rice porridge with chicken and egg may just be the new breakfast of champions.
Back on Hill Street across from Angel’s Flight the newest additional to Grand Central market is Horse Thief, helmed by Wade Elroy and Russell Malixi. Specializing in Central Texas-style BBQ, Horse Thief serves up brisket, spare ribs, pulled pork, and chicken made in hickory smokers.
Julie Wolfson (@juliewolfson) is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. She covers travel, lifestyle, art, pop culture, cocktails and food for Cool Hunting and several other media outlets. Most days you’ll find her out and about in Southern California and around the world tracking down stories about talented people doing amazing things.