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Recession Obsession: Downtown LA's Grand Central Market

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The Official Recession has been upon us for thirteen official months. It’s still not a reason we can’t enjoy life on the cheap. This is LA -- we’ve got options! We last feasted on Thai Town for just a few bucks, and stopped to smell the daisies for even less.

LAist loves the Grand Central Market. It’s hard not to. Its sights, mix of people, and cuisines borrow successfully from different parts of town as well as other parts of the globe. Multinational vendors sell some of their country’s greatest hits for just a couple dollars. And they've done so in this space, the width of a city block (found between Hill and Broadway,) for about ninety years. That’s why Downtown LA's Grand Central Market is LAist’s latest Recession Obsession.

A Sensory Feast

Tall garage doors give way to an ever higher ceiling. Neon signs glow the name of each vendor. Even the Grand Central Market’s lone checkcashing joint glows Western Union yellow. As you traverse the long passageways, kicking sawdust as you go, your eyes will illuminate when they finally tilt down to the grub. If they don't, walk another five feet to the next vendor.

  • You'll see: the various colors of fresh produce. Mexican. Salvadorean. Fresh seafood. A Mexican bakery. Tacos. Aguas Frescas. Pizza. Kebas. A juice bar. A meat counter. Candy, sold in bulk. Dried goods, sold in bulk. Productos Latinos. And (more.)
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While the Grand Central Market features countries worth of grub, the landmass which shines above the rest is Latin America. Try a pupusa at Sarita’s, or Siete Mares at Maria’s. Pig heart tacos (corazon) at Las Moreliannas are an option as well.

You can do well at the Grand Central Market for $5/person. For a little more you can have a feast. Large Mexican pastries (pan dulce and more) can be had for less than a buck.

Hopefully The Present Is The Future

Our troubled economy is best seen in the vacant stalls near the Broadway side of the Market. The neon is dark on the Shawarma Kitchen sign, its lonely stall offering no indication of a future tenant. Some naysayers spout the Grand Central Market isn’t what it once was. Perhaps. But this place is still something for which to be grateful. The Grand Central Market feels like it will remain a star even if the Downtown of Tomorrow threat turns reality. Thank God. Who knows how long this recession will last.

  • Parking: One hour free with $10 purchase. Enter at 308 S. Hill Street. Validation at the Information Desk.
  • Metro: Red Line. Pershing Square stop.

What's your favorite cheap meal at the Grand Central Market? Comment below!