Dining

A Night’s Tale

L.A.’s Grand Central Market comes alive at night this summer with drag queen bingo
Photos: DYLAN + JENI

Discover why L.A.’s dining scene is blazing hot. Come out west with us for L.A. Week at Tasting Table.

For people passionate about food, Grand Central Market, a nearly 100-year-old Downtown L.A. institution, has become a must-visit. It houses a mix of long-standing vendors like the Cantonese China Cafe and Mexican groceries selling a variety of mole pastes, as well as more recent additions like cult breakfast sandwich spot Eggslut and Sara Kramer and Sarah Hymanson’s Middle Eastern-inspired Madcapra. The market has a half-outdoor, half-indoor feel to it and pulses with energy during the day with diners and shoppers.

By evening, things used to settle as the vendors closed up shop. But starting in early June, that changed, with the market hosting nightly events ranging from live music to trivia to drag queen bingo hosted by Bingo Boy, which Angelenos might know from West Hollywood’s iconic Hamburger Mary’s.

We stopped by earlier this month to enjoy some bingo and bites—and to see what happens when the sun goes down at Grand Central Market. Check out a virtual tour below.

  • Meet Roxy Wood, the bingo caller extraordinaire who kicked off the evening by going over the rules and warning that, if anyone dared call a false bingo, “I’ve got a black strap, and I’m not afraid to use it.” And just in case someone didn’t hear her, “You can’t hear me over there? I’m loud as shit,” she said.

  • Roxy Wood’s threat was not a hollow one. This woman paid the price for calling a false bingo.

  • Bingo players ranged from little kids to families and couples on dates to one lady who sported perhaps the best bingo-going hat we’ve ever seen. She said she hadn’t been to the market since she was a child.

  • A number of the stands at Grand Central Market offered evening specials for guests who went after-hours.

  • Bingo Boy paraded winners around the market as other players cheered and threw their bingo papers at them.

  • As the sun went down, Grand Central’s neon signage glowed brightly.

     

  • A large seating area, where bingo and other evening events took place, warmed up with red lights at night.

  • A longtime staple of the market, China Cafe is almost always busy. During the day, many of the diners are from Mexican families and put their own spin on the restaurant’s famed wonton noodle soup, adding lime to it. The house-made chile sauce is another non-negotiable.

  • The offerings at Grand Central Market range from classics like China Cafe to the newer Madcapra.

  • Madcapra's hummus offerings include this number topped with okra, raisins and a soft-boiled egg. 

  • 1/10
hide

Around the Web

Get the Tasting Table newsletter for adventurous eaters everywhere