It had been about 15 years since I visited Grand Central Market (GCM) in downtown Los Angeles. The last time I went was during lunchtime and I had to leave without lunch because the smell of food was so unpleasantly overpowering. Over the last year, new owners have made a concerted effort to revamp the Market by attracting hip food vendors and restaurants to draw in the lunchtime crowds and offer a pleasant place to visit in the evenings for those people who are visiting or living downtown. I jumped at the chance to see what all the fuss was about when I read about an event being held there called Artopia. It promised to be a fun and interesting evening with live bands, performance artists and many food and product vendors. Our $30 advance tickets included admission to the event and drink coupons for beer and wine. We could purchase food from various vendors while there. Lauren and I went not knowing what to expect but excited at the possibilities. Besides a night on the town by ourselves was a real treat. When we arrived, the first thing we noticed while parking was a tall transvestite wearing a Kinky Boots outfit with thigh high red boots and a whip tucked neatly into the shaft as well as a long line waiting to get in.
After getting our wrist bands and drink coupons, Lauren and I went wandering around to see what the GCM had to offer. It wasn’t the sensual eye candy of European markets we have experienced in our travels but it was interesting. Sprinkled among the vintage vendors selling mole sauces, candy, tortillas and various Mexican cuisine, were the new ones offering moreupscale food, such as Valerie’s Confections, Bel Campo Meat Co., Horse Thief Texas BBQ, EggSlut, Sticky Rice Thai Food.
In between checking out all the vendors, we participated in the activities of the evening like being videoed in costume, listening to a great band, viewing all the art being shown by local artists and strolling around the black light room. After a meal of probably the best pupusas I have ever eaten at Sarita’s Pupuseria, we spent the rest of the evening people watching and sipping wine on the patio of the Horse Thief BBQ restaurant. By the time we left, the place was packed.
I have always loved our downtown having worked there for many years and it was great to see that efforts are being made to revitalize it and make downtown L.A. a fun and interesting place to visit.

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