I recently went on another ethnic market adventure – hubby and I ventured up to LA to visit El Mercado de Los Angeles in Boyle Heights. A three-story indoor mall, El Mercado is full of visual stimulation and is a great place to eat and shop. You’ll know you’re in the right place if you see a large, beautiful shrine to the Virgin Mary in the parking lot! Shops sell everything from beautifully embroidered clothing to religious figures – there’s something interesting and colorful to see nearly everywhere you look. Piñatas, candy, cowboy boots galore – those are just a few things you can feast your eyes on.
When you’re actually ready to feast, you have several options. Whether you stop by one of the food stands for juice and ice cream like we did, go to one of the “order at the counter” eateries, or venture up to the third floor to the HUGE mariachi restaurant “El Mercadito”, you’ll be able to fill your belly and enjoy the environment – particularly if you’re new to such environs. You can also take edibles to go – there’s a bakery and a market on the second floor. The market sells cactus, and yes – the cactus is meant to be eaten, after you scrape off the “prickles” and cook it. I’ve had cactus at my in-laws’, and it’s a yummy dish!
Because my husband is Mexican-American, and because I’m pretty well immersed in the culture, I’ve been to markets and restaurants similar to those at El Mercado before. For this reason, this particular ethnic market adventure wasn’t quite as “foreign” to me as my trips to some other spots here in Southern California. Little India, the Persian market, Chinatown, and the Korean market seemed more like a “local international adventure”, but I still really enjoyed my time at El Mercado.
Hubby and I wandered around, saw some new and some familiar things, ate some yummy treats, and did a little shopping. Our edible purchases included candied pecans (upper right), cookies from the bakery, and Tomy’s butterscotch-y candy. Hubby also bought a few movies he’d watched as a child, and I purchased Loteria sets for my at-risk art journaling students. (Loteria is basically Mexican Bingo, and I like to include the cards in the supply kits each child receives.)
I hope you’ve enjoyed this peek at our trip to El Mercado. Please let me know if you have any questions, and please feel free to share any ethnic market adventures you may have been on lately!