Olympic Boulevard and Central Avenue may seem like a drab intersection, mushrooming with nondescript warehouses. Yet all of those warehouses have colorful delights inside — and they have them in bulk. Lining the endless shelves and hanging from the ceiling are dozens of piñatas, everything from soccer balls, beer bottles and tractors to dragons, princesses, superheroes and almost every cartoon character los niños will love. There is also a mind-boggling selection of bags and boxes of candy, sodas, treats and such party supplies as aqua fresca dispensers, paper plates, tamale cookers, even barbecue grills. Some stores also sell fragrant dried chilies and spices in big glass jars, plus nuts, fruit, pepitas and Mexican candy (hello, tamarindo!). On weekends the streets are alive with pop and ranchero music, the sidewalk crammed with vendors selling pupusas, plantains, tacos, corn, chorizo, coconut milk, fruta fresca, juices, churros, shave ice and crackly pork rind (made in a brass cauldron full of spitting, volcano-temperature oil). You can also get take-home pets like turtles, bunny rabbits and budgerigars (and DVDs and CDs). It's a one-stop party central! Central Avenue and Olympic Boulevard, dwntwn.  

—James Bartlett

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