The oldest and largest market in Los Angeles, Grand Central Market, is alive and well, with a mix of old favorites anchoring the market in history and new vendors bringing something fresh to the city. Running strong since 1917, the market has emerged once again as a foodie hub in downtown Los Angeles. With its culinary past and new foodie finds, longtime residents and tourists alike flock to the market to indulge in the many different cuisines. Here's what you should eat.
Belcampo Meat Co., Stall F9
The Belcampo Burger is made from grass fed, dry aged beef, cheddar, and caramelized onions. It’s a juicy beast of a burger, so try it if you haven’t, but know that within that first bite you’ll return soon to try the rest of the menu. Start with the cemitas torta filled with a braised poblano pork shoulder in a chipotle sauce or be bold and taste the Cabeza Frita. The deep-fried pork head and trotter (a pig’s foot) is perfectly crispy, topped with salty cheese, salsa, and creamy avocados. You’ll have to order your Beef Tallow Fries as a side dish (no combo meals here) and when you do you’ll be faced with another decision: do you really want to share?
Sarita’s Pupuseria, Stall E5
Sara Clark opened this stall in 1998 to offer up a signature dish from her native El Salvador: pupusas. The thin corn patties are made to order with fillings including chicharrones, cheese, and potatoes. Made fresh; be patient. Sip on your agua fresca and enjoy the show as the cook pinches off some dough, then slaps it between her hands. She adds cheese and the desired filling, rolls it up and flattens the dough out before placing on the griddle to cook to golden brown. All of this in less than a minute, mind you. The pupusas are topped with pickled cabbage and served with a little cup of consommé. To round out your meal, pair your pupusas with some yucca or fried plantains.
Wexler’s Deli, Stall D5
At the center of the old market you'll find Wexler’s Deli, serving up deli soul food, old school style. The hallmarks of Wexler’s are tradition, quality, and craftsmanship, and every bit of that comes through in their food. Cooks smoke the meat and fish in-house over apple wood and then slice to order. The traditional Reuben sandwich has sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, Russian dressing, on Rye bread but it’s their local favorite, Boyle Heights Corned Beef, that is truly amazing: thick cuts of juicy meat between warm buttered rye bread.
Eggslut, Stall D1
One of the most popular new spots at Grand Central Market, Eggslut is always jumping, with a line snaking around the side of the building. Join the crowd because fresh organic eggs and some of the most beautiful buns you'll ever see await you! The menu is straightforward, with a few gourmet touches. First timers must taste the classic Eggslut Cheeseburger with ground American Wagyu beef, caramelized onions, bread and butter pickles, cheddar cheese, and Dijon-mayonnaise, topped with an over medium egg in a warm Portuguese bun. If you're just a little peckish, get their signature Slut: coddled egg atop velvety potato purée served with chives and toasted bread.
Ana Marias, Stall C9
My absolute favorite stall in Grand Central Market is Ana Marias, located right down the aisle from Wexler’s Deli in the center of the market. The sign claims that their specialty is tacos but the real magic lies in the superb gorditas. Their thick corn masa patties are fried, sliced open and stuffed with refried beans, the meat of your choice, shredded lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, and salsa. The tender carnitas or the chicarrones are can't-miss options, but Ana Marias’ grilled chicken and carne asada are just as delicious.
Horse Thief BBQ
Located just outside the Hill Street entrance to Grand Central Market, Horse Thief BBQ is another popular new restaurant. The owners describe their approach as “traditional smoked meats with modern sides," Texas style barbeque cooked low and slow, smoked with oak wood. The brisket is tender and the ribs are meaty, but the rib tips take the prize, lacquered and layered with sweet smoke flavors and crispy ends. Needs some carbs with your carne? The pulled pork sandwiches are nice and tangy. To wash it all down, don't miss the selection of local beers on tap at the side bar, and if you can’t secure one of the three barstools, the market courtyard has plenty of outdoor seating with a view of Angels Flight Railway and traffic-heavy Hill Street.