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Grand Central Market v Mercado La Paloma

I believe Grand Central Market and Mercado La Paloma are both in the USC/downtown geographic area, right? Going to try one of them for the first time this week. Which has overall tastier food? Best stores/stalls? Do either offer cochinita pibil, and if both, where is better? Thanks hounds.

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  1. GCM has more variety, e.g., good Mexican (Ana Maria's) and a pretty good Persian stand, but no Yucatecan places with cochinita pibil that I am aware of.

    Mercado la Paloma is smaller, but the cochinta pibil at Chichen Itza is very good.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Ernie

      Does the quality and price (realizing that the food itself is of a different cuisine) compare to the 3rd and Fairfax market? Thanks!

      1. re: sasha1

        The quality is about the same, while the price is MUCH cheaper! If speaking about Loteria specifically, I think GCM beats them hands down...


    2. I don't think GCM has a stall that offers Cochinta.

      Actually GCM is closer to the heart of Downtown, while MLP is closer to USC/Exposition park.

      I enjoy both greatly and think they are both worth a visit when in the area.

      Now GCM is bigger and offers some amazing things other than food. Be sure to bring a good shopping bag because the spice and produce vendors are great and CHEAP. You can go across the street to the Bradbury Building or even do a full on tour of historic downtown


      While GCM is close to red line stops, it can be a bit of a pain to get in by car and the seating in the area is not that great.


      MCLP has awesome seating and plenty of free parking! It also has Chichen Itza, with is one of the best strictly speaking Yucatecan Restaurants in the city (Be sure to get the Panuchos and Cochinta Torta! YUM!!), as well as other great food stands and artisan stands. It's absolutely the PERFECT place to go after visiting Exposition Park/Science Center/Museums, USC or the Staples/Convention Center. ANd even better, it's open late! :)


      Again, I adore both places and am so glad that the hounds have discovered and actively support both important community projects. So it really it all depends on what will work for you and your group. You can't really go wrong either way! :)


      2 Replies
      1. re: Dommy

        Hey Dommy!, what are the "food-hours" of each place? Just lunch or lunch and dinner?

        1. re: Ciao Bob

          GCM: Monday - Sunday 9:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M.
          MLP: Monday - Sunday 8:00 A.M. to 6:30 P.M., but I believe Chichen Itza is open later... Check out the website linke I posted above and call to make sure! :)


      2. I've never been to Loteria Grill, but it doesn't sound very impressive based on comments from this board.

        1. The food is very good at both places. Parking and seating are easier to get at the MLP. Especially during prime lunch hours, it can be tough to find a place to sit at the GCM. (It is my fervent hope that there is a special place reserved in hell for people who sit at a GCM table nursing a Diet Coke from 11 till 3.) Also, the MLP feels more cleanly (for better or worse).

          1. Mercado la paloma is less than 1/2 mile from the USC campus. Grand Central Market isn't close. It's on Hill (and Broadway) near 3rd st.

            1. I realize I may be in the minority but I don't think there is one single place in the GCM that compares to Chichen Itza but there is more variety and bustle in GCM.

              1. I went to Chichen Itza yesterday and it was better than ever. The cochinita pibil is now served on its own plate, with the rice and black beans in their own small casserole dish. The serving of pibil seemed more generous than usual and they even made it a little more fancy with a little whole chile jabanero on top as garnish. MLP also added some flat screen TVs which came in handy to watch the World Cup.