Downtown Los Angeles has gone through a ton of change over the past decade or so. What used to be a fairly run-down place outside of the skyscrapers is now a place that – while it still has its issues – holds a lot of appeal for both locals and tourists. Luxury condos, restaurants, and LA Live sit alongside renovated parks and glitzy hotels. Grand Central Market is one of the most fascinating destinations, and last week, I had the chance to try it for the first time.

Getting There

Driving downtown still isn’t the best experience for most people. Lucky for them, Grand Central Market is just a short walk from the Pershing Square stop on the Metro Red/Purple Line subway, only two stops from Union Station, making it pretty accessible for most people in the area.

LA City Hall walking from Pershing Square

I’ve taken mass transportation in LA before (it’s rare for most of us), and this experience was a positive one. The trains run regularly, signage is good, and they are clean as far as American subway systems go. Metro costs $1.75 each way, and includes transfers, but you’ll also have to purchase a “Tap Card” to access the system.

The Surrounding Area

This is not the best area of downtown Los Angeles, but it is rapidly improving. Grand Central Market sits near Pershing Square, sort of LA’s main plaza for demonstrations and festivals. (The Women’s March began here, and I’ll be attending a Waffles and Beer Festival here next month, to give you an idea.) The Biltmore towers over the Square, and the famous Water Grill sits just a few steps away.

The Biltmore over Pershing Square

More interesting to me was the used books co-op The Last Bookstore, just a couple short blocks down. Last of the Mohicans in great condition for $2? Yes, please!

This is not an area I’d walk around at night, but during the day it is completely safe, with business people and tourists crowding the sidewalks.

Grand Central Market Itself

Ok, now for the main event. Grand Central Market is really a large food court. Offerings there range from Filipino rice bowls to German sausages, and everything between, nestled with stalls of produce. McConnell’s ice cream from Santa Barbara is represented, and the incredible Eggslut (which also recently opened in Las Vegas). There is even a gourmet PB&J stall!

Next visit I will have a gourmet PB&J

While prices aren’t outrageous, they are not dirt cheap, either. Grand Central Market is popular enough that prices don’t have to be so low. However, restaurant-quality food for less than restaurant prices is still a positive!

A look down one of the aisles at Grand Central Market

I went to Berlin Currywurst for a sausage sandwich. The sausage was fantastic with a perfect snap to the casing. The sauerkraut was solid, and the grilled onions were a great accompaniment. The bun was great, but the wrong shape so I had a lot of leftover bread at the end.

A great sandwich but the bun was too big.

Once you’re finished eating, however, Grand Central Market offers little. I was in and out in about 45 minutes, and would have felt guilty keeping the table beyond that, with the crowds gathering for weekday lunch.

The Verdict

Grand Central Market is a great spot for lunch, diverse and interesting. Is it worth a trip downtown just to eat there? Probably not. But combined with other things in the area, it was a lovely day!

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