Friday 26 August 2016

Cheap Food of Downtown LA

I paid for my airfare to the USA, and was hosted by the Redbury Hollywood and Discover Los Angeles.

On our recent visit to Los Angeles, Narrelle Harris and I were determined to beat jet lag by staying up till night-time. As we'd arrived at LAX at 6.30am, this was no small challenge. Still, we thought we'd give it a go.

My strategy for filling the day was to introduce Narrelle to the delights of Downtown LA, an area which has had a rollercoaster ride from buzzing city hub to dodgy no-go area, then back up again, over the last century. It's a truly interesting part of LA, one more tourists should see.

Having transferred on the airport bus to the funky Redbury Hotel near Hollywood & Vine, we caught a Metro train to Pershing Square. From here it was a short walk through the lag-combating sunshine to Grand Central Market.

This sprawling collection of food outlets has been operating for almost a century, and contains a wide array of places serving everything from old-school Mexican to funky hipster food.

1. We started with a good coffee from G&B, at the Hill Street side of the market. They put together a creditable caffe latte and long black (alias a short Americano):

2. Moving through the stalls to the Broadway end of the market, we perched on stools at the bar of hip outlet Eggslut, and ordered its signature Fairfax sandwich containing scrambled eggs and chives, cheddar, caramelised onions and sriracha mayo, in a warm brioche bun. Gooey but tasty:

3. A short walk from the market was The Last Bookstore, a sprawling bookshop in a former bank vault. No food here, but always worth a visit:

4. For lunch we visited Nickel Diner, an old diner which has adopted a modern menu while carefully keeping its cool original decor. I ordered a Vegan Sloppy Joe, believe it or not (lots of beans in there, I think). It was excellent. Sadly the prices on the wall were a touch out of date:

5. It was a warm day, so we dropped into Clifton's Cafeteria for a cold drink. This amazing place was a fixture in DTLA for decades, until it closed a few years ago for renovations. Now it's back and as wacky as ever, with a kitschy fake forest interior complete with stuffed animals:

6. The next day we had lunch at Philippe the Original, an old-school diner on the edge of Chinatown. It's famous for its "French-dipped" roast beef sandwiches, and also does a great veggie omelette on a bed of hash browns in the morning:

7. One Downtown cheap eatery we didn't visit this time was Bronzed Aussie. But if you just can't cope with LA without eating a genuine Aussie meat pie, this is the place for you:

Bon appetit!

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