Bad Day Gone Good, Pt. 1: Grand Central Market

Something about traveling around Downtown L.A. turns me off. Maybe it’s the one-way streets, maybe it’s the parking, maybe it’s just I don’t know anything about the area and am completely missing out on a gem.

But in any case, the other day, my friend from San Diego visited me for a few days and I decided it was time for me to play tour guide to a city I know fairly little about. However, deep in my membrane, I remembered visiting a neat building in DTLA that housed a variety of food vendors all in one gigantic room. This place is called Grand Central Market. This is also where my day hit a turn for the worse.

Around 2:45, we arrived in the area and started to hunt for a parking spot. All of the lots nearby were fairly costly, charging $7-9 to park. We were only planning on being at the Market for an hour so we didn’t want to pay such a high price.

Luckily (or so I thought), I found a free street parking space just beside the entrance to the Market. I quickly grabbed it and paid for the parking through the meter. Oddly, however, the meter wouldn’t let me pay past 3pm.

My friend read the parking sign on the street, reassured me the sign said parking after 3pm is free, and confirmed it by asking a stranger who was leisurely parked in a red zone a couple of cars in front of us. I had a funny feeling about it, but who can argue with two people’s interpretation of the parking sign?

And so, we entered the Market with the hopes of finding a restaurant vendor that could serve us lunch. With roughly thirty vendors in the building, my friend and I were overwhelmed! So many tasty food ready to feed us! We circled the building three times, drooling even more with each passing vendor.

Burgers! Tacos! Sushi! Pizza! Chinese! Healthy Tea! BBQ! Greek! So many options!

We ended up settling on Pizzaria Olio. The booth was decorated so nicely, and I think this factor, along with the affordability, drew us to experience Olio. As we paid, the cashier then told us that our pizza would be ready in 7 minutes. Wow, that is fast!

While we waited, I thought I’d check on my car to make sure nothing has happened to it. Trust me, I was really paranoid about the parking and had kept bugging my friend about it.

By this point, it was 3:10pm.

Lo-and-behold, a policeman was writing up a ticket for the car in front of me, which, at the same time, was getting towed. He, unfortunately, had already gotten to my car, as I saw a white envelope tucked into my windshield wiper.

I tried to plead to the officer that I had just arrived and parked, and also tried to pay past 3pm, but the parking meter didn’t allow me.

“This is a tow-away zone after 3pm”, he snipped while writing and without looking away from his notepad.

Disgruntled and annoyed, I asked if I’m allowed to move my car, and thankfully he said yes.

I cannot believe the parking ticket is nearly $100! And to think, my car was also close to being towed away! Looking at the cost of this ticket, that $9 parking lot is looking mighty fine.

*HINDSIDE NOTE: Grand Central Market offers 1-hour free parking in their building with a $10 purchase as validation (the sign that announces this service was minuscule, and easy to overlook when you’re driving around the block, seeking parking).

This parking ticket just added to the list of reasons I don’t like visiting DTLA. With that, my friend and I decided it was time for us to leave the area and explore another part of Los Angeles. However, now that I know about the free parking, I am definitely willing to venture to Grand Central Market again and explore the offerings of the other vendors.

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