On Mondays, we often feature the favorite restaurants of L.A. chefs. But Cliff's Edge's Michael Bryant figured he'd rather tell us where to shop. "I'm eating freshly cooked pork belly right now, and dipping it into a spicy guajillo chili sauce, made for family meal by my lead morning cook, Lucio," Bryant tells us via email. "I started thinking: This flavor combination excites me, and it's exactly how I like to cook and eat — exciting flavors that don't fatigue the palate. So I started thinking about ingredients that I use and where I go shopping for these things in L.A. It's not a list of restaurants, but these shopping excursions also have dining options!"
Here are his five favorite spots in L.A. to seek out the most flavorful ingredients — and to grab a bite while he's at it.
5. Hollywood Farmers Market
"I love going here, because before you get your shopping done you can grab a quick bite. They have everything from pupusas to tamales to Lebanese kebabs, veggies and vegan options, and fresh squeezed juices. After lunch you can shop in the open air and bask in Southern California's sun. Over 95 local farmers and vendors sell things like the freshest fruits and vegetables; hard-to-find spices; local beef, pork, lamb and rabbit; and sustainable seafood. I get inspired to see, touch and taste what's changing seasonally."
Sundays, 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Ivar and Selma avenues, Hollywood; hollywoodfarmersmarket.net.
4. Mitsuwa Marketplace
"Some of the best ramen around, tucked away in a food court-style arena inside a Japanese marketplace. I shop for my Japanese favorites here, like yuzu kosho and Japanese mayonnaise (the two combined is like crack!). Also I love the fact that you can get live fish, great quality pork belly, sea urchin, fresh udon noodles and some really interesting Japanese candy."
3760 S. Centinela Ave., Mar Vista; (310) 398-2113, mitsuwa.com.
3. Grand Central Market
"Love the vibe and high energy in this place. All the dried chilies and seasonings you could possibly want, which I love because I like heat in my dishes. The market just went through a revitalization, and the food options are on point! Oysters, barbecue, Knead pasta bar, Mexican, Asian, vegan and ice cream. It's all there!"
317 South Broadway, downtown; (213) 624-2378, grandcentralmarket.com.
2. India Sweets and Spices
"As soon as you walk in, you're transported to another country. The smells are amazing. Grab a quick bite! I love all their pooris, and wash them down with a dose of lassi. My go-to for hard-to-find indian ingredients and spices."
3126 Los Feliz Blvd., Atwater Village; (323) 345-0360, indiasweetsandspices.us.
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1. Original Farmers Market at the Grove
"I moved to L.A. 15 years ago and was amazed by this place and the great food stalls here. Still in love with those chicharron tacos from Lotería, served with melt-in-yo'-mouth pork rind and a salsa verde. My other go-to stall is Pampas Grill, a Brazilian churrascaria. You're charged by the weight of the plate, and I load up on the spicy chicken, pork sausage and chiffonade collards with garlic. But all this is an awesome distraction for my motivation to go. Right in the center is this amazing hot sauce stall that will blow your mind with how many different sauces there are. Also there's a great selection of high-quality meats from Huntington Meats. And if you plan accordingly, they have live music on Fridays."
6333 W. Third St., Beverly Grove; farmersmarketla.com.