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.


“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