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DTLA: A Place Where Pupusas Shine Bright Just For You

Sarita's Pupusas stand inside Grand Central Market

Grand Central Market has everything. From Filipino rice bowls and popsicles to produce and fresh made pasta. There are almost 40 vendors ready to offer something that will make your day just a little bit extra special. And although it’s in the bustling area of DTLA, it has proven it’s a preferred location for locals and visitors alike.

The market opened in 1917, that’s over 100 years of being in constant service. Much like today, it started with multiple vendors; from fresh produce and Jewish delis to a stand of eggs – yep, just eggs. The foot traffic in the market is always constant.

Black and white picture of lady at egg stand in the early days of Grand Central Market

“A lady clerk stands behind stacks and stacks of cartons of eggs at an end booth at Grand Central Market | Courtesy of William Reagh Collection at the Los Angeles Public Library.” Image via kcet.org.

In the 90’s, it became a Hollywood go-to location with movies like City of Angels, I am Sam, Bosch and one of the latest, and locals favorite, La La Land.

There are many food tours offered throughout the city, and the DTLA tours have made Grand Central Market one of their stops. One of the popular attractions there is Sarita’s Pupuseria where La La Land sweethearts (who don’t end up together) Emma and Ryan (okay, fine, Mia and Sebastian) had one of their first dates. This specific movie has given the Salvadorian so much attention that I decided to check it out.

Lights, camera, action?

As soon as I arrive to Grand Central Market, I notice camera crews packing up. It’s around 5pm and the place is packed. There are people in every stand and as I make my way through the market, I see a big blue neon light that stood out from the other stands. Sarita’s Pupuseria.

The vibrant blue and yellow colors with the smell of goodness just draws you in. There are around six people working the stand and they are non-stop. You’d think it was early morning and they were getting ready to set up, but really they were preparing for what came next. I was the only one ordering (a lot) and suddenly there was a short line behind me. It’s the go-to dinner spot for many.

As I waited for my food, I decided to sit by the back wall with the L.A. dinosaur mural to get the full view and there it was. A flyer indicating exactly where the La La Land scene was shot and then, a group of tourists walking by taking pictures of the famous spot. It was so L.A.

Two pupusas with Sarita's Pupuseria in he background

Mushroom and mixed pupusas with a La La Land view?

Hollywood aside, the main attraction should be the food. I learned the difference between Salvadorian chicken tamales and Mexican tamales is in the way they’re precooked. They were soft, flavorful and light actually. These pupusas though… There are so many variations that you could visit everyday for lunch and you might need a month to try all the different possible options. If you visit, try the mixed pupusa and if you need your veggies, try the mushroom – it’s healthy!

Growing with the market

Before the pupuseria opened, it was a taco stand – King Taco which closed in the mid 90’s. This worked well for the couple who owned the jewelry stand across the hallway. The couple, who came together in a Mexican-Salvadorean marriage, wanted to expand and decided to bring the goodness of Salvadorean food to Grand Central Market. Focusing on their goal to offer a good home cooked meal style menu, they decided to stay away from the fast food vibe and opened the pupuseria. Needless to say, this worked out great. As Daniel Tosh would say, “And for that, we thank you.”

Jewelry stand across from Sarita's Pupusas at Grand Central Market

Jewelry stand across from Sarita’s Pupusas was the original shop that Sarita’s owners had at Grand Central Market until they opened Sarita’s Pupusas.

Oh the fame…

I went back later in the week week to visit Sarita’s Pupuseria again and once again, more cameras. This time the crew were taking a break enjoying the food, and no, there were no actors around. The spotlight was actually on the food.

Thinking of visiting DTLA? Mark Grand Central Market as one of your must stops. The history, the vendors and the easy parking (yesss) will make your trip feel full.

If you’re an avid market goer, Tell us your favorite spot! Share the love – we’ll let you cut in line 😉

#SaritasPupuseria #GrandCentralMarket #DTLA


This is one feature within our “Venturing Through LA” series. Check out the rest:




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