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Historic Marketplaces Bring Food and People Together


By Athena Lucero

If you're a foodie, gourmet, gourmand or just hungry, satisfying your tastebuds in Los Angeles is a main event. In a recent ranking by U.S. World and News Report, ethnically diverse LA shares the spotlight as one of the top four best food cities in the United States alongside New Orleans, New York City and Chicago. January 2024 data reported that Los Angeles restaurants -- that is, those listed with phone numbers -- totaled more than 9,300. With new restaurants opening every week, choosing where to dine is both a dizzying challenge and a gastronomic adventure.

The saying "Food is a universal language that brings people together" will forever be true. Indeed, two legendary dining and gathering spots in LA are the forerunners to the city's fame as an international culinary destination.

Enter Grand Central Market in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, inducted into the Restaurant Hall of Fame in 2023, and the Original Farmers Market on Third Street and Fairfax Avenue on the city's west side, designated a Historical Cultural Landmark in 1991. It turns 90 on July 14, 2024.

The markets first provided convenience, sustenance and community for LA's growing immigrant populations. Today they are kaleidoscopic urban oases where people from all walks of life still come to break bread under one roof.

Open every day, they are where vendors sell quality food items and cook up fresh meals for locals, visitors and nearby workers who come to shop, grab a coffee or dine. There's no better place to watch the world go by.


My visits to both rocked my taste buds and more.

In 1917, Grand Central Market opened on Broadway as "the largest and finest public market on the Pacific Coast" next door to the Million Dollar Theater that opened the same year. Built by Sid Grauman of Hollywood's Grauman's Chinese Theater fame, the Spanish Colonial Revival landmark is among the country's first movie palaces.

And for the wealthy residents on Bunker Hill above the market, the famous Angels Flight funicular, directly across from the Renaissance Revival landmark Bradbury Building constructed in 1893, provides transport along downtown's steepest incline. First built in 1901, it is known as the shortest railway in the world. The one-block ride in the Beaux-Arts tram that still serves Bunker Hill is quick yet exhilarating.

At first glance, contemporary signage and outdoor cafe tables suggest a trendy eatery. But bright neon signs inside welcome visitors to the magical nostalgia of 40 bustling food stalls and a parade of visitors.


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Copyright 2024 Creators Syndicate, Inc.




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