Since it opened after a major renovation in 2013, L.A.'s oldest open-air market has been making quite the comeback. A young brigade of chefs has moved in and is now calling it home; the market is a dizzying maze of stalls, slinging new-school versions of everything from grilled cheese sandwiches to smoked brisket.
So where to eat? Here, our guide to Grand Central Market's newest residents and what to order.
Start the morning at this food truck turned brick-and-mortar. So craved (and Instagrammed) is this stall that the city's devotees wait an hour-plus for the breakfast sandwiches.
What to order: The Fairfax ($7), with soft scrambled eggs, chives, cheddar cheese, caramelized onions and Sriracha mayo sandwiched between brioche buns. If it's a late start, the cheeseburger ($8 single, $11 double)—griddled Wagyu patty, caramelized onions, cheddar cheese, bread and butter pickles with an over-medium egg—cures any hangover.
Any proper deli breakfast starts with a bagel: Go with cream cheese and pile on the fixings. Chef Micah Wexler has perfected the art of the delicatessen, so don't miss the lox, pastrami or anything cured and smoked.
What to order: The smoked sturgeon bagel ($10) comforts homesick East Coasters, while the O.G. ($11) pastrami—stacked with tender, peppery slices of brisket smoked in-house—with mustard on rye gives Langer's a run for its money.
Sticky Rice 2
The tiny Thai stall expands with a second spot just behind its original site. Think of part two as Sticky Rice lite: The expanded menu includes pineapple fried rice ($10), wok-charred pad see ew ($10) and spicy vegetable drunken noodles ($10)—made with free-range, organic ingredients.
What to order: Noodles are king. The usually ho-hum pad thai ($10) wows (and burns) with a handful of chili flakes, fresh bean sprouts, green onions, a wedge of lime and crushed peanuts atop seared chicken and rice noodles. To end, don't forget the sweet kanom krok ($3 for 5 pieces, $5 for 10 pieces)—ebleskiver-like coconut-rice pancakes.
Photo: Courtesy of Ron T
Belcampo Meat Co.
If you can, snag a seat at the six-stool counter for a small, dinner service window—Thursday to Saturday from 6 to 9 p.m. The prix fixe menu ($60) gets you four courses of farmers' market produce and top-notch meat. All the cuts served and for sale are raised, processed and butchered at Belcampo's Northern Californian farm. In short: You can feel good about what you're eating.
What to order: The dinner menu changes daily. What doesn't change are the à la carte items: The house cheeseburger ($12.50) and crispy, unctuous cabeza frita cemita ($11), both on a sesame-studded bun and served with addictive, beef tallow-fried French fries ($4).
Horse Thief BBQ
This newbie is bringing brisket back. The Texas-style tradition starts with smoky, spice-rubbed brisket piled next to Southern sides, bread and butter pickles and slices of white bread. The outdoor stall (the only one at the market) means a sprawling patio for groups during prime hours. Plus, there's the added perk of alcohol (i.e., local craft brews).
What to order: Texas-style means beef: Go for brisket ($6 for a quarter pound, $12 for a half pound) or rib tips ($8 for a half pound). For fixings, we recommend the aged white cheddar mac and cheese ($4.75) and bacon and blue cheese potato salad ($3.50 for a regular, $6.50 for a large).
McConnell's could pass as an OG Grand Central Market tenant, seeing as it's been around since 1949. But the recent arrival from Santa Barbara is the latest favorite amongst the lunch crowd. Scoops of seasonal, small-batch ice creams are made with local, grass-fed milk and cream, organic eggs and farmers' market ingredients. The proof is in the pudding: The most creamy and rich ice cream that we've ever put in our mouth.
What to order: Show your California pride with Santa Barbara strawberry ($4.25 cup, cone)—topped with candied almonds for the win—made with Santa Barbara berries and Guittard chocolate. For fall, we love the churros con sundae ($6.75): cinnamon and fried dough-studded ice cream made better with salted caramel sauce and pepita brittle.
RELATED Ari Taymor's Downtown L.A. »
Think of this as a one-stop picnic stop. The white-tiled stall goes beyond cheese—though the selection of domestic and European cow, goat and sheep is worth the field trip—with grab-and-go ficelle sandwiches ($5 to $10) and Italian-leaning salads ($9 to $12.50).
What to order: Omakase cheese ($12) and salami ($10) plates make apéro a cinch.
Clark Street Bread
Zack Hall is making a name for himself as the baker who could. The one-man show makes artisanal, European-style breads with organic flour and natural leaven at this pop-up shop. The result: Baguettes, miche and whole-wheat boules that prove patience pays off.
What to order: Rustic whole-wheat round ($8) and sesame-mixed loaf ($8) are best for sandwiches, with butter and jam, grilled for dinner or on their own. Or do as the Scandinavians do: Make smoked fish-topped toast with Danish rye ($7), dense with pumpernickel, rye, sunflower and flax seeds.
Look out for Mark Peel's seafood depot. The Campanile chef takes a cue from New York's famed Grand Central Oyster Bar: Expect a lunchtime counter serving fish, soups and salads.
Please check your inbox to verify your email address.