For those who don’t live in Los Angeles, it can be easy to forget that the city has more to offer than Hollywood movie stars and sandy beaches. However, native Angelenos know that LA is a cosmopolitan global city where the American melting pot has reached its apotheosis. Thanks to the combination of some of the world’s freshest foods and finest culinary minds, the city may be one of the best places to sample flavors from a variety of countries and cultures. While LA has its share of run-of-the-mill supermarkets, those looking to expand their palate, explore new cooking techniques, and find new tastes ought to explore the many international markets throughout the city.
Most will want to begin with the basics, and the freshest produce can be found at the city’s farmer’s markets, the best of which set up shop Wednesdays in Santa Monica and Sundays in Hollywood. After stocking up on produce essentials and other fresh-from-the-farm treats, adventurous chefs will want to take the trek to an international grocer. The first stop for cooks preparing Mexican dishes should be El Mercado De Los Angeles in Boyle Heights, a maze of food stalls and independent sellers. Those uninterested in the drive to Boyle Heights can simply stop at their local Vallarta, a chain of grocery stores that also include specialty shops inside, such as carnicerias, panaderias, and fresh juice bars.
For those heading to the Far East on their culinary travels, numerous Asian grocery stores are highly recommended. Filipino recipes will be easier to prepare with the ingredients found at Seafood City Supermarket in Koreatown, while the nearby Galleria Market will suffice for all foods Korean. The staples needed to prepare Thai cuisine are best purchased in the sprawling LAX-C, while Japanese foods, pottery, and other products can be found at Marukai Markets and Mitsuwa Marketplace. Meanwhile, Greek cuisine addicts have long been devoted to Papa Cristo’s in Pico-Union, while Italian food lovers should venture to Claro’s in San Gabriel or Mario’s Italian Deli in Glendale.