Day 1,411 of Traveling the World | Los Angeles, CA | December 12, 2021

A gorgeous, sunny December Day. Downtown Los Angeles. Our friends Chantik and Sol. And…a Food Tour! What riches we were offered yesterday. We took the Sidewalk Food Tour with our very good guide, Scarlet. We learned a lot about the history of downtown, stopped to gawk at some amazing buildings, and had six “tastings” of some of the best food offered there.

We started at Pitchoun!, which is a classic French boulangerie owned by a couple from France. The name is from the Marseilles dialect of French for “kiddo.” It was crowded even early in the morning. Their almond croissant stuffed with frangipane was amazing, as was their strong cappuccino. We arrived early for the tour, sat down, and each ordered a large coffee. They were so big that they were served in bowls!

We then walked by the Biltmore Hotel, now the Millennium Biltmore, which opened in 1923 as the largest hotel west of Chicago. It hosted the first Academy Awards show, and in 1964 the Beatles stayed in the Presidential Suite during their first US tour. Fans crowded the the streets so densely that they had to get to their room via a helicopter landing on the roof.

After walking through Pershing Square, we headed to the Grand Central Market, across from the Angels Flight funicular that takes passengers up to Bunker Hill. There, we tasted Horse Thief BBQ and DTLA Cheese’s grilled cheese sandwich. The BBQ was very tender brisket with a spicy/sweet sauce and pickles, while the grilled cheese was made on brioche with two cheddar cheeses and some mozzarella. Because the brioche is a sweet bread, they crisp it with the oven broiler rather than in a frying pan. It was heavenly – very light, flaky, and tasty. The Grand Central Market is jammed with food, whimsy, color, AND people, as you can see from the photos. It was a lot of fun to see people out again, enjoying life.

In the Broadway Arcade Building we had a good margarita pizza at Pizza Napolita and great tacos at Guisados. The corn tortillas are handmade there, and the three varieties of tacos were all delicious. Our final stop was at Donut Friend, which makes vegan donuts. It is quite remarkable, because all of the donuts taste like “normal” donuts…you couldn’t tell that they didn’t have eggs or dairy in them. The last three photos are of some of the vast array of unusual donuts. It was an amazing place!

All of the tastes we had were in places that you likely wouldn’t discover on your own, which is what makes a really good tour. We normally wouldn’t order a cheese sandwich, for example, but the one we had was surprising and delicious. And a good guide always delights. Scarlet was very knowledgeable and interesting. Not a woman to be daunted, she bravely talked over all the street and truck noises and amid all the pedestrians bobbing through and around our sidewalk tour of 16 people. It really was a remarkable day!

Every large city we have visited has encouraged us to drink beer. Wonder why that is??
Pitchoun! had three or four cases of baked breads and patisserie items. Every single one looked sinfully delicious.
We thought the sign on the wall on the right (“Pain”) was funny, even though we know it is the French word for bread. It wasn’t near the bread display, though. It was just hangin’ out on its own.
Our guide, Scarlet, in front of one of the entrances to the Millennium Biltmore, with its massive columns and decorative arch. Many movies and TV shows have been filmed here.
Pershing Square. It seemed funny that it won an award for its “design,” even though there wasn’t much design. It was a large expanse of concrete devoid of anything pleasant or pretty. There is only this one tree that might give a little shade, with the rest being palm trees. Scarlet told us the square is slated for renovation in 2022.
A building we passed had these hollow-eyed cherubs all along the facade.
Only seven funiculars exist in the US, and Angels Flight leading up to Bunker Hill is one of them! But Pittsburgh holds the record for the most, with two.
This is the pretty patio adjacent to the Grand Central Market, where Horse Thief BBQ delivers up some great delights.
A gorgeous, bright piece of neon art in the Grand Central Market.
We ate at Eggslut (also in Grand Central Market ) many years ago. Their most notable specialty is the SLUT, which is a cage-free coddled egg on top of potato purée, poached in a glass jar, and topped with gray salt and chives, accompanied by slices of baguette.
A view down one of the aisles.
The Million Dollar Theater, close-up. Check out that detail work!
The Million Dollar Theater, including a view of the impressive statuary at the top of the building.
The historic Bradbury Building, the oldest commercial building downtown (1893), now closed due to the pandemic. The interior was used in Mike’s favorite film, Blade Runner. It has the classic metal elevators and metal scroll work on the staircases and banisters inside.
We didn’t know that LA had an arcade building, as we have seen in other countries. This houses a variety of restaurants, including our tastes at Pizza Napolita and Guisados.
Guisados had the best tacos, on homemade corn tortillas.
Pizza Napolita served a margarita pizza that had a slightly charred crust, with splotches of sauce, cheese, and basil. The crust was very pillowy underneath the crunchy, crispy exterior – a triumph.
We liked the way the light worked in tandem with this street art.
An ice cream shop! What a cute name!
The imposing doors to the Los Angeles Stock Exchange, which opened in 1930. The doors weigh one ton each and are original to the building. It served as a stock exchange until 1986, and has since been the site of two nightclubs. The exterior is protected by the Los Angeles Conservancy.
We haven’t seen a cuter name for a cafe!
This is a true LA treasure, Clifton‘s Cafeteria. We ate here many years ago, and the seating area inside had a gigantic tree framing the tables, along with taxidermy animals, foliage, and mood lighting. Quite the place!
Enjoy the inventive names….
…the bold colors…
…and the whimsy. Oh, if only by looking at them, you could taste them somehow! Amazing.