LA’s Oldest Food Court: Grand Central Market
Grand Central Market, LA’s largest foodcourt, is one of the few things surviving from the early days of Los Angeles when Bunker Hill was lined with stately Victorian mansions. If you are visiting downtown Los Angeles, eating at Grand Central Market needs to be on your must do bucket list.
The market throws back to 1917 when the rich, famous and almost exclusively white people of the Bunker Hill neighborhood rode the Angels Flight Railway down the short, but steep trip to the bottom to shop.
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Originally Grand Central Market was an open-air market with over ninety vendors including green grocers, fishmongers, Jewish delis, butchers, as well as stalls for dry goods, baked goods, flowers, coffee, cheese, and eggs.
Today the Victorian mansions have given way to some of the highest skyscrapers in Los Angeles including office buildings, art museums, and condominiums… and the formerly all-white neighborhood is decidedly a mixed ethnic neighborhood. But Grand Central Market remains.
The historic market has survived depressions and multiple re-development projects in downtown Los Angeles and remained in continuous operation the entire time. It’s not only the largest food court/public market in Los Angeles, it’s the oldest.
Fresh food vendors have given way to trendy and unique restaurants. The market showcases California’s best chefs and ingredients. There are nearly forty food vendors in the 30,000 square foot space and each bears a retro neon sign. It’s such a popular destination in DTLA that it can be hard to find a seat.
We can’t really tell you which ones are the best to eat at. We haven’t been able to eat that much yet. You can see a list of restaurants and vendors at Grand Central Market here, but what we recommend is just go inside and see what looks good to you! It all will, but something is sure to stand out.
Grand Central Market also makes a great central spot to relax for a while if you are taking in the sights in downtown Los Angeles. It’s directly next door to the famous Million Dollar Theatre, on of several famous theatres built by Sid Grauman (think Grauman’s Chinese Theatre). You usually can’t go inside but take a moment to look up at the elaborate and intricate sculpture work on the facade of the building. The cross the street and go inside the amazing Bradbury Building. You have probably seen it in a movie at some point, but you must see it in person. The beloved Angel’s Flight is just steps away. It only costs a dollar to step back in time to the early 1900s and ride it to the top of Bunker Hill. I consider riding Angel’s Flight the one thing everyone must do when visiting LA. On top you will find California Plaza and another food court, but you’ve already eaten right?
The nearby Last Bookstore is probably the largest bookstore in the world. It is in an old bank and the books have been turned into literary sculptures that you can only appreciate by seeing them. A few blocks in the opposite direction is the Los Angeles City Hall. The observation deck on the top floor is open to the public and offers a 360 degree view of Los Angeles. Truthfully, there are too many fun things to do in this section of DTLA that I can’t list them all here. For more ideas check out our Downtown Los Angeles Points of Interest category.
Grand Central Market is open from 8:00 AM to 10:00 PM seven days a week. The address is 317 S. Broadway.