QUICK TRIVIA: What’s the most visited place in Los Angeles?
It’s probably the Hollywood sign. Or maybe Rodeo Drive. Or the Santa Monica Pier. Yes, it’s definitely Santa Monica Pier! WRONG. It’s The Grove. An outdoor mall built in 2002 is the most visited place in Los Angeles.
Save for the 405 Freeway, there’s not a place more unanimously hated (but well-attended) by Angelenos as The Grove. So here you are, at The Grove, and you’re starving. Losing your f*cking mind at The Grove is an LA right-of- passage. The food options aren’t great, but you can survive. Here’s how.
The Grove opens every day at 10am and it all goes down from there. Here’s a tip: Arrive an hour earlier at 9am (when The Original Farmer’s Market opens) and enjoy one untampered hour of absolute bliss. The place is deserted and the early morning food vendors have the place smelling incredible. Bob’s Coffee and Donuts is a bonafide LA institution with urn-brewed coffee and an incredible apple fritter. Two important things needed to sustain the wall of bused-in tourists marching your way.
Congratulations. You just mouthed off to a 7 year-old wearing Minion goggles and you’re not even out of the parking structure yet. Pop a Xanax. And then grab some food at the original location of one of LA’s most prominent names in Mexican cuisine: Loteria Grill. Everything from the Chicharron de Queso to the beef nachos are great here but we prefer going all in on the Probaditas, their mini-taco sampler highlighting all their signature guisos.
Is this the dawn of a legit restaurant movement within The Grove? The NYC restaurant group recently opened their sushi/fried chicken concept by the movie theaters in a space not even Gordon Ramsey could make work, so we’ll see. The sushi is good enough but you ignore all of that. Your eyes are looking towards land, in the form of their famous fried chicken. It’s amazing and crunchy and the wasabi honey sauce is no joke. It’s also $28, which is painful. But so is The Grove and you managed to say yes to that.
The food train continues to chug into The Grove/Original Farmer’s Market, and the Spanish-tinged Moruno is probably our favorite opening yet. The menu still needs some tweaking, but overall we love the serene space and chill vibes (no matter how hard it is to hard).
Did you know The Grove is also home to a year-round haunted house? It’s called The American Girl Store and it’s a doll-themed horror fest. Accidentally, you stumbled into this torture labyrinth because you can’t find your friend and her six-year-old niece, and now you need comfort food. Luckily, Du-Par’s has you covered. From their patty-melt to their apple pie, Du-Par’s is calorie- fest goodness and one of the few sit down spots at The Farmer’s Market. Besides, you just witnessed a first grader create a doll in her own image, so it’s time to put your feet up.
Rookie mistake: You made an appointment at The Apple Store on a Saturday afternoon and now you’re forced to watch Miranda Cosgrove perform in front of a Wetzel’s Pretzels until your name is called. You deserve better. Make your way to Moishe’s, an unfussy food stall that’s quietly cranking out some pretty legit Middle Eastern staples. Not normally the easiest thing to eat on-the-go, the falafel is your move at Moishe’s because that sandwich is tightly wrapped for all your walking needs and makes a decent weapon, if it gets to that.
One of the more overlooked aspects of the Original Farmer’s Market is their fantastic selection of grocery stalls. And in the case of Marconda’s Meats, you’re staring at one of the most revered butchers in the city. But unless you’re a 75-year-old man still grumbling about the Iran-Contra affair, you aren’t shopping at the mall with a piece of red meat tucked under your arm. MAJOR GROVE HACK: Buy the top cut of your choosing at Marconda’s and walk over to La Korea BBQ next door who will grill it up for you for a mere $4. It’s beautiful time to be alive.
Your Tinder date doesn’t look anything like her photos and she just reiterated for the fourth time she doesn’t do drama. Escort her politely to the nearest Anthropologie and go grab a steaming hot bowl of gumbo at The Gumbo Pot because life is short. The Gumbo Ya Ya is a staple at this cajun food counter but make sure your order it with a side of that Creole Mustard Potato Salad. It’s secretly the best thing on the menu.
Often credited as being THE original restaurant at the Farmer’s Market, Magee’s is also a good place to eat corned beef while Mario Lopez talks about something unimportant into a microphone back on the main plaza. There’s no lack of great places to get some corned beef in LA but Magee’s is certainly one of them. The secret though? The cabbage. Ask for a double helping and you will not regret it.
Oh Mr. Marcel, how we love thee. Aside from publicly shaming your best friend for suggesting Maggiano’s for dinner, you’re one of the best things about this whole place. The gourmet French food compound takes up an entire quadrant of the Farmer’s Market so frankly you’re not going to miss Monsieur Marcel’s even if you tried. And you shouldn’t miss it. Because grabbing a house-made dessert or a glorious cheese plate and sitting out on their terrace is a fantastic way to be better than everyone.
It’s Friday night and some stoned teenager just pulled the fire alarm and now your movie got pushed back two hours. You weren’t planning on drinking but clearly you are now. There are a few decent places to grab a drink at The Grove but the best one is Mixology 101. It’s overpriced, of course, but the drinks are surprisingly well-made and the own separate mezzanine level provides a much-needed staircase between you and all the people who don’t do staircases.
We love you Dylan’s but we have some tough news. You are not the king of the candy shops at The Grove. That award goes to Littlejohn’s Candies. This 90 -year-old candy shop has delicious everything but you are coming for one thing only: English Toffee. Biting into a bar of this is like being transported to a better world, where the Fantastic Four reboot never happened and Donald Trump was still just a reality star. If you ask nicely, you’ll get a generous sample chunk for free.
Christmas shopping is proving to be a complete bust and you just saw a full grown man crying in Sephora. You need meat. Luckily one of the most popular restaurants on the premises is Pampas Grill, a Brazilian churrascaria in the farmer’s market where you pay by weight. Which means the move here is to grab a tray at the salad bar (which you obviously skip) and move down the line creating the Brazilian feast you deserve.6333 W. 3rd St. #540
There’s only so much bad parenting you can withstand on a daily basis and you just witnessed a mom snap a photo of her child kissing the hand railing on the trolley. Let’s forget the present and go get some Bacon Cheese Tots at Fritzi Dog. Fritzi is well-stocked with great hot dogs but the tots are your first order of business. Why? Because it’s not actually bacon on there. It’s pork belly and you’re worth it.
Despite a light-up menu showcasing questionable photos of wet-looking entrees, you won’t die in your sleep after digesting Singapore’s Banana Leaf. In fact, you’ll probably go home quite happy. There are certainly better Indian curries around town, but the mee goreng (a double fried Malaysian noodle staple) is some of the best you’ll find in LA. And guess what? You did it. You got whatever you came for, ate some food, and life is on the upswing. NOW LEAVE THE GROVE.