>> Westlake Guatemalan Night Market | Eat the World Los Angeles

Sunday 28 April 2019

Westlake Guatemalan Night Market


EDITOR'S NOTE: An updated version of this article (13 December 2023) is available as part of the Historical section of our Substack page. Check that out here:
If you happen to be anywhere near the intersection of West 6th Street and Bonnie Brae in Westlake at night, the clouds of smoke and hypnotizing smells of grilling meats will find you and draw you towards them. During the winter, when skies get dark early, the entire event takes place in the dark as vendors begin setting up around 17:00. On hot summer evenings, it might take a little longer for everyone to set up when the sun is being avoided, although some prime spots under the shady trees of Bonnie Brae are always home to vendors.

While the intersection is the epicenter, the market has fanned out in all four directions. If you come for the first time, make the rounds down each street and take in the lay of the land. Many vendors will call in newcomers and show you their goods if they are not already on display, lifting aluminum lids or letting you peek into their buckets. In addition to all the Guatemalan antojitos and grilled meats you could ever dream of, the market has also attracted other vendors living in the area so do not be surprised if you spot Mexican-style tacos and tortas and Salvadoran pupusas as well.

While you are deciding a course of action, pay special attention to all the ingenuity involved by the proprietors here at the market. Shopping carts are used and adapted all over the world for different purposes, but some of the custom-crafted grills here are just as interesting as the food. Steaks and sausages are cooked straight over charcoal, just as Guatemalan customers prefer, the shopping cart holding it all together becomes a portable way to make a living (and take everything back home after a night of vending).

Not everyone standing around on the occasions I have been to the market is after food. Many of the vendors bring their children and many others come to talk with these folks and amongst each other. The market always doubles as a community hub, where I assume all the good gossip finds its way to everyone's ears.

Ever since the first time I went to Guatemala, I have had a weakness for garnachas (above), a small antojito about the size of a taco but with a slightly thicker tortilla that gets crisped on the grill and is firm. This vendor sells his for $1/each, topped with shredded meat, onions, and a tomato salsa, simple but full of flavor. Don't forget to grab some pickled vegetables to garnish each one.

For a full rundown of the incredible amount of food available here, I recommend reading Bill Esparza's comprehensive article from a couple years ago. Come on different days and find different vendors and foods. While some options are always consistent, the market remains full of surprises on every new visit.


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