The Last 5 Things I’ve Eaten at Grand Central Market, and the Next 2 on My List

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The transformation of Downtown L.A.’s Grand Central Market into a world class dining destination has continued unabated over the past few months.  For people like us it was always a great place to eat lunch, with pupusas, pork tacos, and wonton soup that made getting summoned for jury duty that much more bearable.  But with the addition of Sticky Rice and Eggslut, Valerie’s and Horse Thief BBQ it has become an actual lunchtime destination, one that seems ready to deliver on the PR promise of becoming L.A.’s version of San Fran’s Reading Terminal Market.

A bunch has happened since the last time I visited the market, pulling me back for 3 lunches over the past few weeks.  Here are the last 5 things I’ve eaten at GCM (and the next 2 things on the docket.)

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1. Pizza from Olio – A fast food’ish branch of Olio, the popular neapolitan pizza place on 3rd St., is the latest addition to the market.  The menu at their restaurant is a bit outside the ML price range, so I was excited to discover that everything on their Grand Central menu is under $10.  You can get a standard margherita, 3 cheese or pepperoni pizza for $7.90 or splurge on a burrata topped margherita or wild mushroom and proscuitto pizza for $8.50.  They’re not the biggest pizzas of all time, but the quality is great for the price.  At the end of the month they’ll introduce their regular menu with salads, more pizzas and more breakfast items- here’s hoping the prices don’t go up too!

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2. Trotter sandwich from Belcampo Meat & Co – Downtown finally has a world class butcher shop in Belcampo Meat Co., one with a counter serving lunch and dinner dishes made with animals exclusively sourced from their Northern California ranch.  Unlike some of the other nouveau butcher shops in town, they don’t plan on doing any wholesale or restaurant sales, choosing instead to open their own restaurants each with a sustainable menu utilizing meats that are likely to be popular in each neighborhood.  So with that in mind, nobody should be surprised that their best lunchtime dish in Grand Central Market is a crispy pig’s head and trotter cemita, complete with avocado, salsa and queso. In other words I wouldn’t expect to see it in Santa Monica, at their next planned location.

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3. French fries from Belcampo Meat & Co.  - Not only is the cemita the best sandwich on the menu, at $11 it’s also the cheapest (sustainably is expensive, people), which is important because you’ll want to save money for their amazing fresh cut fries, fried in beef tallow ($4).  I will find it hard not to get these every single time I visit Grand Central no matter where I end up eating.  There’s also a $12.50 burger made from dry aged, grass fed beef that a lot of people are talking about, but I’ll probably find it hard to go that route with this right around the corner…

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4. The Burger from Egg Slut – Sorry Belcampo.  But for me, egg and avocado is going to win out every single time.  At $9 it’s also cheaper (bonus!) On my first visit to Eggslut, I got there right before 11am so I didn’t have a chance to try their burger, but yesterday I finally made it happen.  Did I mention it has a egg and avocado on it?  Just one bit of warning, the wait at Eggslut is getting worse and worse by the day. The plus side?  It gives you time to go get those fries…

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5. Salted Caramel Doughnut from G&B Coffee – And of course there’s G&B for that post lunch coffee fix… or as I like to call it, “an excuse to get a doughnut from Donut Snob”.

But wait.  There’s more.  Even though I’ve eaten at Grand Central 3 times in the past two weeks I still have a few more reasons to go back over the next few weeks…

1.  Wexler’s Deli – It looks like Micah Wexler’s house of smoked deli meats is getting close.  The menu is hung and yesterday they were actually back their behind the counter with giant hunks of raw meat.  Despite the appearance of actual food, they said they’re still two weeks away.  Based on the little bit of the menu I could see peeking above the tarp, I’ll be there.

2.  Ok, I’ll admit the second thing is not a thing to eat on my list, but a campaign I’m looking to start… Grand Central Market, it’s time to increase the amount of parking time free with validation from 60 minutes to 90 minutes.  You want me to pay $9 for a egg and cheese sandwich, $30 a lb for some meat, or $4 for a post lunch coffee, I’m going to need an extra 30 minutes of free parking.  This is more than reasonable, don’t you think?  Or, how about 1 hour free with validation, extra hour free with second validation?  Because, as you can tell, I’m looking for extra excuses to eat at multiple places on every visit.

Grand Central Market, 317 Broadway, 213-624-2378
(Parking entrance on Hill between 3rd and 4th)

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