A Soft Spot for Bacari

It was a somewhat vulgar term for the pre-opening of a restaurant, my pal Steve pointed out.

“You’re right!” I replied. “I hadn’t thought of that.”

If you’ve never been to the “soft opening” of a restaurant before, the experience can largely be encapsulated in a single sweetly sad moment at the recent preview of a new restaurant we attended with our friends, Steve and Ashley:

A young waitress brought one of our cocktails to the table. The drink was too full, she was nervous, and green tequila-infused juice splashed over the rim of the glass all over her hands and the table as she awkwardly set the cocktail down and apologetically scuttled away.

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“What sort of food do they serve?” Leslie had asked as we drove toward Glendale. More

All the City’s a Market

It’s one of my favorite things about living in Los Angeles. On any given week, I may visit any number of ethnic markets: Japanese, Chinese, Filipino and Korean groceries; Italian delis; Russian and Polish markets; Mexican carnicerias, Oaxacan specialty shops and the Vallarta supermercado; stores dedicated to Persian, Argentine, Hawaiian, British, Spanish, Ethiopian and all other variety of global foods.

Grand Central Market stall in 1920

Grand Central Market stall in 1920

One market I used to visit periodically if I was in the neighborhood — which happened to be the farmacias, counterfeit sportswear shops and old-theaters-turned-Mexican-iglesias of Broadway in downtown — was the Grand Central Market. An open-air affair spanning the length of the block on the ground floor of a large building, the market opened in 1917 and over the course of recent decades had turned into its equivalent of any similar market in Mexico City, Mazatlan, Guadalajara or a hundred other large Mexican cities — piles of dried chiles, pinto beans, mangos and nopales, cases of stinky meat and pig’s heads, votive candles and fresh corn tortillas. More