The beauty of a Mercado is its versatility. Whether it entails a quick stop to buy the key ingredient to your grandmother’s recipe, or a day’s adventure getting lost among the vendors and people, mercados provide a range of activities, sights, and food. So take your pick and get lost in our guide to L.A.’s best Mercados.
Occupying the entire ground floor of the Homer Laughlin Building, this open-air market is a landmark. Dating back to 1917, it boasts the title of largest and oldest Mercado in L.A. The Downtown market is always bustling with activity as tourists take in the scene and businessmen step in to get a quick bite. And the food is just as diverse as the crowd. Vendors like Sarita’s Papuseria, China Gourmet, Bento Ya Japanese Cuisine, and Hawaii BBQ line the halls. Did we mention they’re open daily?Grand Central Market
317 S. Broadway
Los Angeles, CA
This small Hawthorne gem carries all of the essential Colombian products. From coffee to soda (called…Colombiana), the inventory is large and varied, even though the space is small. It even has all sorts of golosinas like obleas (thin wafers typically served with a sweet spread called arequipe), and frunas (think of them as the Latin American Starbursts). But perhaps the best import of all is the Colombian hospitality. Carolina, the owner, always gives a warm welcome and serves delicious picadas like empanadas and papas rellenas from the store’s deli.Colombian Delicatessen14159 Hawthorne Blvd
Hawthorne, CA 90250
Located in Boyle Heights, this mercado could well be located in Mexico City. The family-friendly market takes up an entire block and has two floors. Food vendors selling corn tamales, elote with cotija cheese, and chiles rellenos line the bottom floor, while traditional Mexican ingredients like fresh cremas, moles, and Oaxaca are sold upstairs. Make sure to hone in on your bargaining skills before you come, as sombreros, boots, panama hats, Virgin statues, and all sorts of Mexican chucherias are also sold here.El Mercadito
3425 E 1st St.
Los Angeles, CA
Top Valu is more of a supermarket, but it gains its spot on this guide because of its selection of anything-Latin-food-related. This place has it all- whether you’re picking up fresh salsa roja or want to peruse the produce section for exotic vegetables like jicama or green tomatoes. Walking down the candy aisle is like taking a trip to your childhood as they have all sorts of Mexican, Colombian, and Argentinean sweets. Their bakery also makes fresh tortillas and pan dulce daily. And if savory is more of your thing, then stop by their deli where they serve fresh chicharrones, pozoles, and chilaquiles. Thankfully, they have multiple locations throughout the city.Top Valu
This Argentinean mercado’s unremarkable strip mall exterior belies the meat extravaganza within – this is the place to go to get anything you might need for an asado. Not only do they carry all kinds of cuts from chorizo to fiambres (and the chimichurri to dress them), they also make their own sausages. If meat is not your thing, their deli serves traditional Argentinean plates like sandwiches de miga and empanadas. Then there’s the dessert section. Their decadent selection includes alfajores, Argentinean flan, and dulce de leche. And if all these foods leave you thirsty, you can quench your thirst with the Argentinean beer, Quilmes, or Yerba Mate, as well as a selection of imported wines from Argentina and Chile.Catalina’s Market
1070 N. Western Ave.
Los Angeles, CA