Downtown Los Angeles' Mercado Olympic is the stuff of Mexican food legend. With weekend-only hours, the largely unregulated stalls that pop up along Olympic Boulevard just west of Central Avenue pump out delicious tacos, tortas, burritos, sopes, quesadillas, aguas frescas, and even—deliciously enough—fish sticks. Churros, chorizo, and chicharrones are hawked from stall to stall as you make your way down the cluttered sidewalk, stopping to sort through cheap trinkets or boxes of dried chiles. And since this is the heart of downtown's Piñata District, you'll find plenty of, ahem, close resemblances to popular children's characters, all in destroyable piñata form.
But be forewarned, it can crowded at the Mercado Olympic. With tight walking spaces and slim hours (Saturday and Sunday only, 9 a.m. to 5ish), the warm weekends can sometimes get even hotter when you're crammed under some tents on a strip of sidewalk in treeless downtown Los Angeles. Plus, with sizzling oil and warm planchas for grilling, it's almost guaranteed to be a sweat lodge by 1 p.m. A tasty, delicious sweat lodge of Mexican delights.
Check out the slideshow for some of the best that the Mercado Olympic has to offer.
About the author: Farley Elliott is a freelance writer and comedian living in Los Angeles. He maintains a weekly taco column for SeriousEats.com, as well as a weekly alcohol events column for KCET.org. He also blogs about burgers, comedy shows and holds celebrity interviews for LAist.com and the Earwolf podcast network.