Monday, December 23, 2013

Grand Central Market: Where pig snout meets eggslut

I have some concerns about Grand Central Market.  I'd like to talk about them.

But I'm getting a little distracted.

the slut, with biscuit

The first time I went to Grand Central Market was probably about a decade ago, when Downtown LA held tons of promise for an urban explosion, but we weren't seeing much yet.  At that time, I noticed a few things.  Grand Central Market was amazing.  A huge, bustling open space, mountains of produce, aromas wafting from pupuserías, taco stands, Chinese steam plate places, and more.  It was a little rundown, but this didn't detract from the magic.  And the vast majority of the clientele were speaking Spanish.

open kitchen

Fast forward to 2013.  As we know, the Downtown prophesies came true.  And, you know where this is going: a somewhat absurd rant about gentrification from the very person the Market's new tenants are there to cater to.  Not the first time.  Indeed, we kill what we love.  The latest additions to Grand Central Market include eggslut, home of the 9 dollar breakfast sandwich, Valerie Confections, beloved bake sale contributors and purveyors of delicious, high-end chocolates, and G&B Coffee, notorious among my circle for the time, back when they ran the coffee service at SQIRL Cafe, that they gave one friend her to-go coffee in a jam jar with a bandana wrapped around it, snickering at her request for half-and-half, then charging her seven dollars for the lot.  Um.

the happiest of breakfasts

So, yeah, I'm all for progress and all, but, as always, I'm conflicted.  But I recently checked out eggslut, and honestly, the food was so delicious that it's hard to scoff.  What I loved was the attention to detail.  I mean, the fat-salt-pork formula is hard to mess up.  But, when someone asked for butter with their warm, tender, perfectly cooked biscuit, the chef made sure the server sprinkled some flaky salt on it before handing it off.  The signature dish -- named The Slut, natch -- a velvety potato puree topped with a coddled egg and served in a jar with crostini on the side, is accented accented with a sprinkle of celery salt.  And, even their simplest bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich is really well-executed and totally satisfying.


Across the market, G&B now offers actual paper to-go cups.  Their space is laid out like a bar -- you walk up and give your order to a friendly and appropriately dapper barista.  And my little macchiatto, served in a Gibraltar glass and topped with a foamed-milk heart, was wonderful.

hard to sneer at the movement that brought this sunny patio
So, what do we think, kids?  Is Grand Central Market's unique local color doomed?  I for one am not too worried about it at the moment.  There are a few of these new hipstery fancy stands, but for the most part, the populist bustle of the Market remains.  If the attempt here is to turn Grand Central into San Francisco's uber-gourmet Ferry Plaza, happily, it has failed.  Because, just as we were waiting in line for our precious sandwiches, another equally eager line was forming at the stand next door, to order every imaginable part of a pig, from an age-worn, hand-edited sign, all in Spanish.  

trompas y orejas y riñón, oh my!
(And also because I like fancy coffee and slutty eggs.)

Grand Central Market is located at 317 S. Broadway, between 3rd and 4th Streets. It's a 5 minute walk from the Pershing Square Red Line station.


  1. I am optimistic that authentic cheap Mexican food and fancy eggs can coexist amicably at Grand Central Market.

  2. And lo, like a christmas miracle, an all kinds of yum post drops into my rss feed. Gentrifixistence. Dig it.

  3. gishi and Jess, I like both your attitudes. And your use of rss feeds. Well, one of you anyway.