Grand Central Market in downtown Los Angeles has been a historic landmark since 1917, bringing together the diversity of cuisines and cultures found across LA for more than 100 years.
A century ago, Broadway Street was known as the poppin’ shopping and entertainment district of downtown Los Angeles. Bunker Hill — which sits to the west of the market — was overflowing with impressive Victorian mansions owned by the wealthiest of the elite, and the neighborhood’s trendiest locals rode down on Angels Flight to shop for their groceries in this open air Market.
The Market has always reflected the changing culture and demographics of downtown LA. In the 1920s, the ninety-plus vendors included a range of stalls including green grocers, Jewish delis, meats, baked goods, flowers, coffee, cheese, and eggs. As DTLA has evolved, the market has continued to evolve with the changing times.
Nowadays, this 30,000 square-foot open air arcade encompasses a massive food emporium and retail marketplace, acting as a shared gathering space for Angelenos and visitors alike.
You could come back every day for a month and try a different meal at a different stall. The variety is beyond comparison!
So, here’s how to (try to) spend an afternoon exploring the market’s provisions.
Sweets & Treats
If you’re looking to curb your sweet tooth, look no further than The Donut Man. The Donut Man has been serving up high quality delicious treats for nearly 50 years — and is the originator of the famous “Fresh Strawberry” and “Fresh Peach” donuts. You’re bound to have seen their gooey goodness on Instagram.
Next, hit up McConnells, to taste the creation that ice cream lovers have been raving about for decades. No seriously, this ice cream is so well-known that I knew a girl in college who drove 90 minutes to get to the nearest McConnell’s because that’s how bad she wanted (needed?) it. Indulge in an ice cream float, a Build-Your-Own Ice Cream Sandwich, a Sundae, a single scoop, or a waffle cone.
Check out Knead & Co. to experience a plethora of hand-made pasta and a variety of other fresh, Italian market provisions.
Next, visit Belcampo for a generously sized, delicious burger. One time I went for a 10 mile hike in the Angeles National Forest and I tried to eat a whole Belcampo Burger afterward, and STILL couldn’t finish the enormous portion. The DTLA outpost of the Belcampo Restaurant & Butcher Shop serves their signature burgers, salads and bowls in a “modern-meets-retro cool vibe” setting at GCM.
They’re well-known for their natural meat and produce, which is grass-fed and finished, pasture-raised and sourced directly from their “climate positive” California farms.
There’s also PBJ.LA, which can be sweet or savory (or even both at the same time…) It’s a more exciting take on the classic American sandwich — but it’s gourmet, offering inventive combinations including exotic combinations such as curry, nut butter, superfoods, artisanal jams — and more.
It’s not a trip to LA without a proper visit to Eggslut, which dates back to 2011 and was “inspired by a true love for eggs,” and claims to sell as much “joy” as it does eggs.
Lucky Bird is another LA classic: And at GCM, it’s the market’s first-ever stall dedicated solely to fried chicken.
Olio GCM Wood Fired Pizzeria hand curates (not just “bakes”) individual sized, melt-in-your-mouth artisanal wood-fired pizzas and focaccia salads, each made with love and care.
La Huerta sells candy, dried fruit, and nuts — basically anything you’d need for a bring-home treat.
Torres Produce is a longstanding produce stand, offering a selection of seasonal fruit and vegetables.
Valeria’s sells Latin dry goods, with an extensive selection of dried chilies, spices, and beans, as well as fresh moles, New Mexico pine nuts, dried bacalao, and canned specialties.
G&B Coffee is an artisanal coffee lovers’ dream. Champion baristas Kyle Glanville and Charles Babinski G&B Coffee founded this masterpiece of a coffee outpost at GCM which serves up coffees, espresso drinks, and teas selected from the world’s top roasters and farms.
Visitors can even check out the “Weekly cuppings” each Tuesday at 2:00 p.m. to get a true taste of the range of G&B coffees sourced from around the world.
And Grand Central Market would not be complete without the Los Angeles classic — Golden Road Brewing. This longtime Los Angeles-based craft brewery, offers 20 beers on tap, along with California pub fare in the buzzy social atmosphere of Grand Central Market.
A Local Legend
All day every day, there’s no shortage of stalls to explore — and a variety of tasty food and drink around every corner. It’s a place of community, LA history, and sharing a common love of one of life’s best unifiers: good food and better people.
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