Inside the Gentrification of LA's Grand Central Market
May 15, 2017 7:10 AM   Subscribe

The way the link is written I was expecting a complete hatchet job on Grand Central Market, but the article points out both the successes and the problems with the rejuvenation of Grand Central Market in a well-balanced way. When they say homeless people were peeing in the corners a few years ago, they ain't lyin'. It was an often uncomfortable place to be, and had the feel of a market that was dying off. Now it is thriving; people are shoulder to shoulder and it's a great destination. But at the same time, vendors like Jones Grain Mill were selling things that downtown residents actually wanted (says I, a downtown resident that shopped at that stall). The article gives the impression that there's only one vendor from the old days; there are actually several, including shops that sell old-school Mexican ingredients. (I didn't know you could buy dried prawns until I saw the gigantic lucite bin of them!)
posted by rednikki at 7:37 AM on May 15, 2017 [3 favorites]

Oh my god, when I was in LA I went there. I mean, I walked through it. I had planned to get lunch, but it was so crowded and overwhelming that I just sort of...wasn't sure how to actually get food? That sounds bizarre, but it was how it seemed. It seemed like everyplace had this really speedy already-determined process for ordering and retrieving the food and I felt sure that I would mess it up.

So I went to Whole Foods.

Admittedly, the Whole Foods was terrifyingly palatial, and I got some locally made black rice sushi that was super good, so it's not as though I just ended up with a random thing that I could have bought at home.

If I were in LA again, I'd probably try to go very early so that I could really take my time to figure the place out before ordering.
posted by Frowner at 8:00 AM on May 15, 2017

My officemates and I headed down the hill for lunch three or four times a week back when I lived in LA. When Angel's Flight re-opened, we were hitting it every day and then just taking the train back up the hill. The taco place on the south wall put so much meat in their $2.50 tacos that you got extra tortillas to make more tacos.

One time when visiting LA after moving away, my partner and I headed back for a nostalgic lunch and we barely recognized the place. The taco stand was still there, luckily, but we couldn't help but chuckle at all the upstanding citizens waiting patiently in line while all the regulars relied on the old system of crowding the counter and yelling your order the split second that you made eye contact with one of the employees.
posted by hwyengr at 8:46 AM on May 15, 2017 [4 favorites]

I was introduced to the market by a buddy of mine that's lived in downtown LA for a few years now. He took me up and down the good blocks, and showed me the stark line where the gentrification hasn't yet hit. And told me how fast it was spreading.

We walked there from his apartment, and walked around downtown the whole day. I think the only other time I've walked in LA has been in Santa Monica, and even then, not much. Seeing the privately owned public spaces and the new venues really made me feel good about LA. In a different era, I can imagine the newfound wealth and jobs being used to feed and employee the homeless that are camping on the street a few blocks away. But, you know, late stage capitalism.

Oh, and if you're there on a weekday, go to eggslut. Best egg sandwich of my life.
posted by Phredward at 7:42 AM on May 16, 2017

One of my favorite weekend treats is to go to China Cafe and get a container of wonton soup to go. I go very early on weekends to avoid the crowds (although the stand is always busy) and the wontons are so substantial that by the time I get back to Santa Monica via public transportation they are still firm and delicious. Theyve been there 50 or 60 years and just reopened after a update. I think I'll go this weekend, yum. Nevertheless, I'm uncomfortable with the gentrification of the market, but of the whole city, really.

But Wexler's? They opened one near me and I went in to try a bagel. But they don't sell single bagels. You can buy a dozen, or a bagel with cream cheese, but not a plain, single bagel. I was tempted to pull a Five Easy Pieces -- bagel with cream cheese, hold the cream cheese -- but I can't afford a $4 bagel just to prove a point. I went to NYBD instead.

we couldn't help but chuckle at all the upstanding citizens waiting patiently in line while all the regulars relied on the old system of crowding the counter and yelling your order the split second that you made eye contact with one of the employees.

Oh, yeah, you'll never get your Chinese food otherwise!
posted by Room 641-A at 8:22 AM on May 16, 2017

(although the stand is always busy)

Oh, man. In 5 years I ate at China Cafe ONCE. And it wasn't planned, but rather a"Holy shit, an open seat at the counter!" moment.
posted by hwyengr at 10:07 AM on May 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

A while back I made a post about a KCET series about immigrants and food in LA. This episode is about Chiles Secos.

The only down side to going so early is the bbq place is closed. They have great rib tips. I'd love to taste Egg Slut's fare but the only food I'm waiting in that kind of line for is a Godmother sandwich. But I feel guilty eating at the new places anyway. Maybe the new Egg Slut in Venice isn't as bad. (As if.)
posted by Room 641-A at 5:45 PM on May 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

What a great article. I love GCM. And I have the same unease I have about its crowds I do about the current state of the east side.
posted by persona au gratin at 2:19 AM on May 17, 2017

KCET has some great journalism, doesn't it? I just saw a Huell Howser episode on GCM. It must have been from 15-20 years ago. And it's so different now.
posted by persona au gratin at 2:22 AM on May 17, 2017

And if anyone is avoiding reading this since they don't know the area, I have never been and still really enjoyed it.
posted by ellieBOA at 4:53 AM on May 17, 2017

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