There was a moment, driving to L.A.’s Grand Central Market, that I started to regret my decision. Downtown L.A. can be a hassle and there I was chugging along listening to “On The Town” (I’m still obsessed with it) with my windows rolled down and the street was closed due to some construction, so I had to make a difficult right, then a difficult left, all the while searching for the parking garage while Leonard Bernstein’s sailors sang about the Bronx being up and the battery down. By the time I parked I really questioned whether this journey was going to be worth it.
Spoiler alert: the journey was worth it. Take a look at what I saw when I walked through that door.
L.A.’s Grand Central Market is a bustling, exciting place. There are crowds of people pushing through to buy lunch (I went at lunchtime) and/or to shop for groceries. The selections are far from the usual stuff you’d find at a market. For example, a pig’s head in a plastic bag.
All kinds of spices.
A Chinese massage.
Before I went, I did some research about where to eat. Jonathan Gold raves about Roast-To-Go; Russ Parsons, editor of the L.A. Times food section (who I was fortunate enough to meet in person last week on a panel in Orange County) recommends Tacos Tumbras a Tomas. Clearly, more people read Russ Parsons than Jonathan Gold because when I got to Tacos Tumbras a Tomas there was absolute pandaemonium.
Not so Roast-To-Go!
At Roast-To-Go, I ordered two carnitas tacos “with everything” (to quote the woman who made it) and a cup of Horchata. The grand total? $7. And look at all this food on my little paper plate.
The hard part was finding a place to sit and eat. As I mentioned, the place was packed. Finally, I found a spot at a counter where I gobbled that all down in record time. Is it a good idea to eat Mexican food really fast? Turns out: no.
Anyway, I kept walking around afterwards and had the most fun at this counter right in the center of the market:
Look at this big pile of beans.
And all the dried chiles.
It was from this vendor that I bought the Maseca I used to make fresh corn tortillas at home.
I also bought an assortment of dried chiles (anchos, guajillo, a few others) that I’ll use, I hope, in some kind of chili soon–probably a riff on Lisa Fain’s.
Let’s get one last look at the Grand Central Market before we go.
Wasn’t that a fun place? I’m glad I went.