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Recession Obsession: Mercado La Paloma

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A Recession Obsession is, 1) a meal so great that it stays in your mind long after digestion's end, and, 2) plays nice with your sensitive wallet. Is there a better place than Los Angeles to eat a wide variety of amazing food that so happens to be inexpensive? Probably not. We're as lucky as we are well fed. We last obsessed over Tandoori tacos, and KyoChon's Korean Fried Chicken. Today, we obsess...

Among Angelenos, LA is famous for culinary hotspots in non-descript areas. Travel south of Downtown, and near USC (but not too close,) and you'll find one of them: La Mercado Paloma. This colorful food court features a variety of Latin American tastes and one obligatory Thai joint. You can eat well here for under $10 bucks a person. It’s definitely LAist’s latest Recession Obsession.

A large mural marks Mercado La Paloma. If it wasn't for that it would be easy to miss this warehouse-looking building on the corner of 37th and Grand. Inside can be found: Burger Plaza Grill, Oaxacalifornia, Taqueria Vista Hermosa, Circle A Food Express, Lalo's Bakery, Chichen Itza, and Mo Chica.

Chichen-Friggin'-Itza

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I'm told these places are all pretty decent, but for me, I focus my limited budget. Chichen Itza's Yucatan-style Mexican is the Manny Ramirez (without the dreads) to La Mercado Paloma's Doyers. While their 6th street restaurant has atmosphere for days, their simple stall here has the same menu favorites which earned their right to open the larger restaurant.

While entrees are reasonably priced at $6-$10 each, mixing smaller dishes will get you more for the same, or less. Appetizers are $2-$4 each, tacos are $1.99 -- choose from cochinita pibil (amazing regional Pork,) pollo asado, or poc chuc (pork chop!) -- and tamales are $2-$4 each. These tamales are thick and wrapped in banana leaves.

Maybe Next Time

I would bet an inexpensive under-one-roof taco-crawl would be a good time. As would a visit to Mo Chica. No, that's not the name of the WMC featherweight boxing champ, but a new Peruvian favorite of Jonathan Gold. It's a little pricier than the rest but when Obama send me a personal $20 stimulus package, I'll go crazy on a tub of ceviche.

Photos by Caleb Bacon (Twitter) for LAist

  • Mercado La Paloma USC Adjacent | 3655 S. Grand Avenue | Los Angeles 90007 | (213) 748-1963 | 8 a.m. - 6:30 p.m. (not all stalls open daily)
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Where do you like to eat near USC that's not McDonald's? Comment Below!