You can take a drive down to East Los into El Mercadito and come out looking like you spent a good weekend in Mexico. I’m talking the whole gear. El Mercadito has it all and at one time, I mean ALLLLLL!. El Mercadito is a blend of all Mexico from its wonderful candies (chille, tamarindo, cajeta, Duvalin’s, saladitos) to the whole gear, boots, huaraches, pants, shirt, belt, hat. You name it, El Mercadito has it. It’s our shopping mall that takes us back to the old pueblo. On weekends you can find the tourists lining up like they’ve crossed the border and into another country, taking pictures of murals, food, candy, clothes, even people!
Hey, we play the part. We have hustle. We make it up as we go. Become tour guides, parking attendants…everything. In the back parking lot there’s a huge shrine to the Virgin Mary and on her day thousands gather in the early morning to serenade her with every kind of music there is, from banda to mariachi, tamborazo to cumbia, a trio to some indigenous drumming. El Mercadito also serves you some of great Mexican cuisine with live mariachi. 2 restaurants take up the 3rd floor with 4 stages. I tend to hit-up El Mercadito for fruit cocktail or some agua fresca. Funny enough in my last 3 Voting polling location has been El Mercadito. It’s an Election Day served with chips & salsa, some mariachi and freedom!
Next time you’re in East Los, head over to El Mercadito and transport yourself into Mexico. For me, I grew up just a block away. I enjoy watching the crowds coming in and seeing their faces as they leave, it’s like they’ve really gone somewhere else and that’s what they are going to tell their friends. Only in East L.A.!