Tuesday 14 August 2018

Exploring Downtown LA + Anaheim Packing House | LA Day 3

The city of Los Angeles is massive beyond imagination, so it comes as no surprise that the land of Hollywood darlings is North America's second largest metropolitan city. To give you a rough idea, Los Angeles is comprised of over 80 different neighbourhoods and districts. So it goes without saying that you really have to pick and choose which areas of Los Angeles you really want to explore.

Prior to my trip I had asked a few of my friends to recommend where I should go and areas they think I should skip. They were unanimous on me not going to Downtown LA; however, LA's city centre has undergone a notable revitalisation and as cliche as it may sound, it is on its way to being the next up and coming region in LA. 

The historic district of downtown LA is a must visit as it is block after block of stunning wrought iron and ornate stone carved facades. I have always been a sucker for older architecture so it was almost like a treat to see Spanish Gothic (Ace Hotel dt LA), Beaux Arts (Hotel Rosslyn Annex), and Italian Renaissance Revival (Bradbury Building). One of my biggest regrets is not visiting the Bradbury Building and you will know why after you do a quick google search of its interior. 

If you are on vacation and it is a Sunday, brunch is undoubtedly mandatory. LA is a cornucopia of delicious restaurants and after much deliberation I settled on Best Girl inside the Ace Hotel. I went with the Chilaquiles, a traditional Mexican dish made with scrambled eggs, tortilla chips, queso fresco, cilantro and scallion. The scallions were pickled so it gave a nice acidity to the yolky eggs and the tortilla chips were a great textural component. Since I went down the savoury route, my friend chose something sweet: the Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes. Delicious rich blueberry compote sat on top of ricotta pancakes that were then finished with vermont cultured butter and maple syrup. I actually loved how the pancakes were a little irregular in shape. 

The day basically revolved around food, so in an effort to digest the brunch from Best Girl, we decided to walk the 20 minutes to our next destination, LA's infamous Grand Central Market. During our walk, I was surprised by the number of upscale sneaker boutiques we passed. A large proportion of the boutiques were concentrated in Little Tokyo. Sneaker culture is serious business, so much so that a lot of the shops shrink-wrap the shoes in order to prevent any damage from handling. And yup, some of them were upwards of $2,000!  

Grand Central Market is crammed beyond belief with restaurants and hungry visitors. Downtown LA's gentrification is in full force at the market because what once was a market of family run restaurants is now a mecca of hipster food outlets. Instagram favourites like Eggslut, PBJ.LA, Madcapra and G&B Coffee are just some of the food outlets you will find there. The neon store signs above everyone's heads made finding the food stalls easier in the overcrowded space. 

I could not leave LA without trying Eggslut and thankfully there was one at Grand Central Market. The Sausage Egg and Cheese is their take on a classic breakfast sandwich and came dripping with yolky goodness. I also tried the SLUT, a coddled egg nestled on top of a smooth potato puree served with toasted slices of baguette. They nailed the breakfast sandwich, but I am not particularly fond of the SLUT because the egg yolk with mashed potatoes was a bit of a weird pairing. But whatever you end up getting, you must not forget their freshly squeezed orange juice!

That evening we headed down to Anaheim and you guessed it, more food! The Anaheim Packing House is a gourmet food hall inside the former Sunkist Packing House that was built in 1919. It is one of the few original packing houses left in Orange County and this one in particular is the final one remaining in Anaheim. The middle of the building has an amazing open space with lots of plants and natural sunlight. Still stuffed from all the food I had had that morning meant I could not eat much more. I had some comforting Southern soul food from Georgia's, but my favourite had to be the Nashville fried chicken sandwich from Sweetbird. I still have dreams about that chicken sandwich because it was that good.

Day three in LA/Anaheim was a fun day of exploring the food scene there. I am glad I got to cross off Best Girl, Grand Central Market, and The Anaheim Packing House off my list. I wish I had a bigger stomach because at the two markets, there were a lot of restaurants I did not get to try. I am bummed I did not go to Mini Monster because they had the cutest re-useable glass jars. I also wish I knew the city better because I was within a block of a lot of shops I wanted to see, specifically the Last Bookstore.


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