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Aug 29, 2004 03:43 PM

Whats the best Grocery Market in Downtown LA ? (Whole Foods, Trader Joes,...)

  • r

Is there any good grocery stores in Downtown area that has a reasonably priced gourmet selection; ala Real Foods, Gelsons, Trader Joes, Whole Foods, etc.

The Grand Central has alot of nice Hispanic ingrediants and cheap produce but is of limited value to me overall, because of their lack of variety and poor selection of meats. Is there any farmers markets I chould know about?


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    1. Thursdays from 4-8 pm Chinatown has a farmers market on North Hill Street between Alpine and Ord. I think there is also some type of farmers Market @ the 7th and Fig shopping center.

      The nearest Ralphs is on Third Street and Vermont. Though one is slated to open in the near future @ 9th and Hope.

      As far as Grand Central is concerned, a 99 Cent Store with basic food products (milk, eggs, water) will be opening in a month or so. That should add a bit more variety.

      9 Replies
      1. re: weebie

        fyi: neither Chinatown nor certainly the 7th & Figueroa 'farmer's market' resembles the certified farmers markets in Santa Monica, Hollywood etc. And the Ralph's on 3d & Vermont is to be avoided. I have never encountered longer lines or more indifferent staff, of whom there are none to many, not to mention odd/absent stock, panhandling and arrests in the parking lot. I think the real answer to your question is ipse dixit's. Ipse dixit indeed.

        If you have just moved downtown you should figure out how to build shopping into your travels to other parts of the city. I live downtown and shop almost exclusively at Whole Foods and farmers' markets (plus Joan's on Third, Wine House etc); it isn't all that difficult once you figure out how to provision while carrying out the rest of your life in other parts of town.

        Which isn't to say that I don't wish Whole Foods would open up down here--how they can justify two within a couple blocks on Fairfax, for example, with nothing this whole area, I can't comprehend.

        On the plus side you should check out Mitsuwa and also LA Fish, where I bought a whole Alaskan king (not Copper River) salmon during the height of the season for $4.95 a pound.

        1. re: Dbird

          The way they can justify two Whole Foods within a few blocks of each other on Fairfax is because each of the markets is about 800% too small. Shopping at either of those stores is an exercise in patience. They seriously need to expand into a proper space... like how about moving into the Ralphs at 3rd and La Brea? :-)

          Mr. Taster

          1. re: Mr. Taster

            Moving to 3d & La Brea would do nothing for downtown which is my selfish priority.

            1. re: Dbird

              I was asking the very same thing of a friend who lives in downtown on Bixel and 7th. There is retail space available in the bottom of her building and I also notice retail space available in the lofts in downtown, so why isn't some enterprising grocer like Whole Foods or Trader Joe's moving in there? They would be guaranteed to have shoppers in there since, as it is rightly pointed out, there is no alternative unless you drive out of the area. Any real estate tycoons out there want to explain the reason (except perhaps a fear of vagrant problems?).

              1. re: ChefLisa

                It's just a matter of supply and demand. Until very recently, there probably weren't more than a few thousand permanent, employed residents of downtown. Now, with all the new luxury buildings, there's many more, but the retail market will be slow to catch up because Downtown is still seen as a place that gets vacated at night. And of course, parking and vagrancy are huge and valid concerns.
                We used to say the same thing in Silver Lake in the 1980s -- Trader Joe's didn't open until around 1993, if memory serves. For a long time we weren't sure Silver Lake would sustain a gourmet shop in addition to Say Cheese, but apparently now the critical mass of yuppies is enough to sustain Silver Lake Cheese as well. I think the population in Downtown is still very small compared to the mass of high-income, health and gourmet-food loving people on the Westside or in certain parts of the Valley.

                1. re: ChefLisa

                  Clearly a large supermarket operation doesn't pencil out in the downtown area, at least not for the last 50 years or so. For example, the very successful 99 Ranch Market chain of grocery stores opened up a branch in Chinatown, downstairs from Empress Pavillion in the mid 1990s. I think it lasted three years before closing down, and the space to this date remains vacant. As far as I know that's the only branch they've opened that has failed. Why a grocery store doesn't pencil out in downtown probably relates to the metrics of that business, with which I'm not familiar. My guess is that a supermarket requires a minimum number of residential units within a particular radius of the store, and given the relatively small residential population downtown, coupled with the cost of real estate in the area, the numbers just don't work out.

                  1. re: Chandavkl

                    It's true....There aren't enough people living downtown yet to support a grocery store like a Whole Foods or a Ralph's. There are developers working on creating more residential opportunities downtown, but it usually takes a while for retail to follow. My husband and I just moved downtown (temporarily)and there is absolutely nothing in the way of grocery stores close by. You really do have to gather your provisions while you are out in the other reaches of the city. Although, there's a huge Whole Foods on Glendale Ave. below Lexington in Glendale that might be a bit closer than Pasadena.

                    Oh, and what was said about the Ralph's on 3rd and Vermont is very true. I stood there with one avacado and some salad mix in the only open line while a mile of other customers behind me yelled at the check out people for not opening up another line. It was scary.

                    1. re: Kristina

                      I just don't buy the idea that there aren't enough people downtown to support a Whole Foods (please, not a Trader Joe's,or at least not first). There are currrently many residential buildings full of people like me who would shop there daily, plus plenty of people who work downtown who would stop in for lunchtime purchases as well as after work shopping on the way home to whatever outlying neighborhood they retreat. And so many more more residential and other attractions to bring people downtown are already on line-- it seems to me that no one out there who could pull such a project off has really taken a good look at downtown and its prospects. This is not 1999.

                    2. re: Chandavkl

                      The lack of population by night and weekends is the major factor, coupled with the lack of a building of sufficient size and adequate parking(Whole Foods requires 35,000 sq. ft. building with about 150 car pkg, while Trader Joe's requires around 12,000-15,000 sq. ft. with at least 75 car pkg, and a rent factor that is in line with the population as well as the number of lunch folks, which is the only part that is currently in line. However, the numbers will reach critical mass soon, and that is why Ralphs is on the drawing boards with the new project from CIM to the rear, sort of, of Macys Plaza.

          2. There is a Bristol Farms and weekly market in nearby South Pasadena.

            1. The closest market of that ilk time wise I can think of would be the Mayfair Market (same ownership and MO as Gelson) on Franklin and Bronson just below the Hollywood Hills. If you avoid rush hour traffic, you can hop on the 101, get off at Sunset, turn right one block later at Bronson and two blocks ahead to Franklin, probably in about 10 minutes from downtown.

              1. While there is nothing downtown, you are not too far from Pasadena which has a Trader Joe's, Bristol Farms, Gelsons all in relatively close distance and a little further away, there is a Whole Foods. To reach Bristol Farms, you go north on the SR 110 (Pasadena freeway) and exit at Fairoaks. Bristol Farms is just across from the off-ramp. To go to Trader Joe's or Gelson's, just take the 110 to the end of the freeway, Arroyo Seco Parkway, and continue straight. Trader Joe's is just south of California on the right side of the street and Gelson's is up a little further north to Paseo Colorado which you can reach by turning right on Green Street, go a block and a half and turn left into the parking structure. You will see Gelson's on the corner before the parking entrance. Whole Foods is on Foothill just east of Rosemead Blvd. It is just off of the 210 freeway.