DTLA: Have You Checked Out Grand Central Market Lately?
Horse Thief, Olio Wood Fired Pizza and Belcampo just got their beer and wine licenses. Soon other vendors will be able to serve beer as well. Here’s to hoping the market will extend their hours past 6 p.m. soon. Occasionally the vendors will stay open for special events. Recently Time Out held their awards there as did LA Weekly for their Artopia event. I attended a talk organized by a local news blog, Zocolo. I saw an arts and craft area for children as well.
Old school vendors like Tacos Tumbras a Tomas and one of the first “new kids” Sticky Rice are still buzzing. I visited a few months ago and checked out Eggslut for the first time. The line can get super long for the popular breakfast sandwich and the eponymous Eggslut (mashed potatoes with egg and chives). I would love to do a food crawl through the whole market to explore the older vendors but at the same time, I still haven’t eaten at DTLA Cheese or Valerie at Grand Central Market and am eagerly anticipating the Oyster Gourmet, a raw oyster bar.
A couple of weeks ago I tried the burger that’s now the new it burger from Belcampo Meat Company. It was good but what I found most memorable were the soft buns, love-inducing fries and luscious dessert. This was at the upcoming Santa Monica location that was open briefly during the month of May. If you can’t wait until the grand opening in August, rejoice because Belcampo DTLA has been open almost 3 months.
The menu changes daily but it seems the burger is always on the menu. We tried the BBQ chicken sandwich which comes as either a slider or sandwich. It is on the smaller side so I definitely recommend getting the fries. Which I promptly asked for chili making them chili cheese fries.
I was debating between the meatball sub or the Philly cheesesteak. I love both things but was swayed towards the cheesesteak since I was sharing and figured it was a larger sandwich. And it was! Filled with mostly meat, a scant scattering of onions and peppers, this is a meat lovers sandwich. I loved that the bun was also very soft.
To hold up against the chili, the beef fat fries at the Downtown location seemed to have been double-fried. The two of us couldn’t finish this order. Note to self, bring two more friends.
One of the new vendors, Berlin Currywurst introduced German streetfood to LA a few years ago. You can either get the sausage in a bun but street style means the sausage comes with thick slices of German farmers bread. While we love our bacon wrapped hotdogs in LA, there’s always room for more street food.
I tried the paprikawurst with charlottenburg sauce. The sausage with paprika worked really well with the ginger orange sauce. I’d probably do a regular bratwurst next time with a little bit of heat. You can choose from none up to level 4. The garlic sauce sounded great as did the jambalaya sauce. Mopping it all up with the thick bread was a cool idea because it didn’t feel heavy at all.
I may be a native Angeleno but I don’t usually fanatically follow the “healthy” food trends. Unless it’s kale. I’m all about kale. In any case, I never tried kombucha (fermented tea drink) because there’s a certain yoga pants wearing stigma attached to it. I recently did try Better Booch, the kombucha seller at Grand Central Market. I was pleasantly surprised. It tasted like a shrub (sweetened vinegar based syrup). And I’m all about shrubs… in cocktails. How about kombucha in cocktails? Oh, it’s been done? Not by The Minty it hasn’t. Coming soon to LA Cocktails, “healthy” booze recipes. In the meantime, try the Original Gangster at Better Booch. I also liked the Apple Ginger Rogers.
Over at Olio, everyone was buzzing about the pizza oven in their custom-built space. I’m a sucker for mushroom pizza and had to get the white pizza with carmelized onions and wild mushrooms. It’s big enough to share (sorry, no individual slices) if your eating partner-in-crime wants to grab something else to split with you.
Like kombucha, I tend to not go the route of juicing but it’s a brand new Minty and she tried Press Brothers Juicery. I liked Drop Acid which was spicy but to go with my food, I opted for Liquid Gold which was simply pineapple, apple, lemon and mint. Drop Acid has cucumber, apple, arugula, lemon, cilantro, parsley, ginger and habanero. I originally feared it would just taste muddy but I picked out all the fresh greens in the juice.
Press Brothers sells the juices individually or if you want to start that juice cleanse, find them at the umbrella near Better Booch.
You wouldn’t know it but LA is a pastrami town. We like the traditional sandwich but we might also top our fries with it. Getting a traditional deli at Grand Central Market was really cool. I heard the smoked fish was good but I knew I had to try the pastrami right away.
My favorite pastrami is at Langer’s but Wexler’s serves up more than a decent sandwich. With crunchy pickles, a good slaw and the MacArthur Park; pastrami with Swiss cheese, Russian dressing, slaw, the trek to the actual MacArthur Park seemed more daunting. I found the flavorful tender pastrami very good. I added grainy brown mustard to my sandwich and it was perfect. I’d like to try the Reuben and egg salad sandwich (the Ruskie) next time. Now if only they served matzoh ball soup too!
While Grand Central Market has all these hip new spots, you can still find many of the original vendors serving Mexican, Japanese, Chinese, Hawaiian as well as vendors selling fresh fruit, vegetables, seafood and other grocery needs. Where else can you go for a pastrami sandwich, kombucha and also get deals on Mexican spices? There’s still some open stalls available and I wonder what will go in next. What does Grand Central Market need? I would love to see a wine bar serving charcuterie.