Some would say, you haven’t been to LA if you haven’t eaten at the Grand Central Market. And we agree.
The food hall that has been continuously operating since 1917 has seen many food trends come and go, while one constant remains the same — it’s a community gathering place. It’s where people come to eat, talk and get their weekly groceries done. From soda fountain to ramen, Grand Central Market keeps up with the time. Taste changes, but the love for food remains. Without a doubt, the market had also seen some inglorious days, when the whole downtown area went down the drain in the 80s. 2012 was a turning point for both, the market and the Downtown. First, restaurateur David Tewasart gave it a try and opened Sticky Rice. Sticky Rice grew into two locations, and GCM owner Adele Yellin secured vendors such as Belcampo Meat Co, Eggslut, G&B Coffee and much more. Today, Grand Central Market is at its peak, mixing established stalls like Ana Maria or China Cafe, with new hip places like Bombo or Ramen Hood. In the basement, there is still the Discount Store, and if you feel more like cooking at home, the fresh produce market has everything you need.
Angelenos will even take that exhausting drive across the city to stuff their faces with the best egg sandwich ( hello, Eggslut!), slurp ramen and dislocate their jaw just to have a good bite of the overpacked gordita. Come really hungry to Grand Central Market. You will be tempted to eat more than you actually planned. We always do. And yes, there will be lines and people hovering over you to snag your table when you are done, but this is not the time to get annoyed. You are about to have some excellent food, and nothing can spoil that.
While we really love all the stalls, here are some of our favorites we go back to regularly.
By now you have probably heard of Eggslut. The place where the line is long, but the egg sandwich you are waiting for, well worth it. The flavors of this sandwich are deep; the egg cooked to perfection, the bun so soft, and the different toppings mouth-watering. Egg sandwich doesn’t equal egg sandwich, and Eggslut proves it. If you are looking for something more light, order their signature dish: the Slut. Egg on top of a smooth potato puree poached in a glass jar, topped with chives with a side of fresh baguette.
Need a coffee break? G&B Coffee is where you will find us each time we are in Downtown and in need for a caffeine kick. We enjoy seeing the baristas make our iced drinks in cocktail shakers — gives it this bar feeling on an afternoon. The iced almond macadamia latte is good as lauded and macadamia nut milk with turmeric, ginger, and honey great option for those detoxing days.
Bombo is all things seafood. In the steel jacketed steam kettles, deep, rich broths are simmering, filling the air around Bombo with a delicious aroma. Our favorite might be Seattle fish stew, tightly followed by the paella in saffron-lobster broth. If you need something to bite on, take a closer look at the crab salad sandwich.
Ana Maria has been one of the longer established food stalls making people happy — and returning for years — for more with their super-sized tacos and an overstuffed gordita. The tacos at Ana Maria are only $3.50 and what you get is a gigantic pile of meat and three extra corn tortillas, so basically you get three tacos.
Sticky Rice was the first newcomer to sign up with GCM and give it a chance. Today, while already expanded, they must be very happy about their decision. At Sticky Rice, it’s all about “Thai Comfort Food.” The portions are generous and for Downtown standards, very affordable. From creamy curries to precisely fried rice — Sticky Rice will give you comfort and please your taste buds on any given day.
You say burger, we say Belcampo Meat Co. When biting into the juicy burger at Belcampo, you know exactly where your meat is from. Sustainably raising their meat on their own farms across CA, Belcampo is a great example of going back to the roots and knowing your butcher and the animal protein you are about the eat.
At one of the oldest stalls, the China Cafe, you will get your plate of Chinese-California classics. In a mood for won ton soup full of meaty dumplings ( don’t forget to add some chili oil) or rather a plate of chow mein with bean sprouts instead of meat. For the meat version, get lo mein. Cash only.
For long time ramen was only reserved for carnivores and vegetarians, but Top Chef winner, Ilan Hall, proves that delicious ramen can also be vegan. 100% vegan. Yes, even the egg is vegan. At Ramen Hood, the umami flavor is extracted by slow-shimmering shitake mushroom and kelp, while the egg is a combination of jellied soy milk (egg white) and a mix of nutritional yeast & sodium alginate (egg yolk). There are two ramen options on the menu, and you can have your add-ons such as nori, bean sprouts, etc.
We hope this helps you to navigate a bit better through the food labyrinth of Grand Central Market and let us know, what are your favorite food stalls!