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The Eight Best Night Markets in L.A. in 2022

L.A.’s night markets are essential spaces for the city’s pop-up and street vendors. The pandemic saw an uptick in the number of street food sellers, as many who had lost their jobs turned to alternative sources of income. We are arguably witnessing L.A.’s street food scene at the peak of its powers—the most exciting experimentation and innovation isn’t happening in white tablecloth restaurants. It’s occurring on a small grill set haphazardly atop a shopping cart, lit dimly by a rigged-up fluorescent light. 

Last month, Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB 972, a bill that would help street food vending in California become legal. It’s one long overdue step in the right direction, as LA’s night markets have suffered from impromptu raids and closures in the last year. The city’s night markets alternate between curated spaces exhibiting tried-and-true pop-up classics and chaotic street markets showcasing a dizzying array of food and merchandise.

Here are seven worth checking out. Protip: Cash is king, and not all street food vendors may always be there, so go with an adventurous mind and hungry stomach to see what you will find on the night you go.  

Guatemalan Night Market. Photo by Lynn Yu for L.A. TACO.
Guatemalan Night Market. Photo by Tristan Starr for L.A. TACO.

Guatemalan Night Market (Westlake)

Bonnie Brae and 6th Streets. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Line 18 - “6th/Bonnie Brae” or Bus Line 20 - "Wilshire/Bonnie Brae."

Open nightly

A stalwart institution of L.A.’s streets, the Guatemalan Night Market has vendors set up along Bonnie Brae and 6th every night. You can find everything from churrasco (grilled meat) to Guatemalan-style chow mein. The caldo de pata, a delicious beef soup spooned out of a giant tub, is the perfect warm broth for a cozy night. But the star of the corridor is papas con pollo—crispy fried chicken and fries doused in three types of sauce. Several vendors have huge pots of bubbling oil going all night long, frying up some of the best chicken you’ll experience in Los Angeles. Bring cash, of course.

The Alameda Night Market. Photo by Lynn Yu for L.A. TACO.
Thai Night Market. Photo by Lynn Yu for L.A. TACO.

Thai Night Market (East Hollywood)

99 Cents Store parking lot: 5270 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Line 2 - “Sunset/Kingsley ”, Bus Line 207 - "Sunset/Western" or Metro B Line - "Hollywood/Western Station."

On Monday and Tuesday nights, Thai vendors pop open the back of their vans and line up along a strip of Sunset Blvd to sell everything from wok-tossed pad see ew and boat noodles to boba tea and Chinese donuts. A few vendors offer big Thai-style crepes, a classic staple of Thai street food. If you start at the edges of the market, you’ll find your dollar skewers and dollar donuts. But make sure to find your way to the middle, where you can pick up Thai medicines or desserts drenched in condensed milk.

The Alameda Night Market. Photo by Lynn Yu for L.A. TACO.
The Alameda Night Market. Photo by Lynn Yu for L.A. TACO.
The Alameda Night Market. Photo by Lynn Yu for L.A. TACO.
The Alameda Night Market. Photo by Lynn Yu for L.A. TACO.

Alameda Night Market (Fashion District)

1123 S Main St Los Angeles, CA 90015. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Lines 30, 33, 48 or 92 - “Main/11th” or Bus Lines 40 or 45 - "Broadway/12th."

Friday through Sunday

The Alameda Night Market down on Main St is framed by a gorgeous view of downtown LA’s skyline. It’s a perfect place to take a family on a weekend evening or a quick pit stop to kick off a date night before hopping on to a bar. When you enter, a DJ loudly blares reggaeton music, but every stall has its own music rig, creating a cacophony of hip-hop and pop hits. Pupusas, birria de res, agua frescas, and elote can all be found at Alameda Night Market. The seemingly ubiquitous birria ramen can be purchased from multiple stalls for $12-$15. If you’re in the mood, you can also pick up crystals and get your tarot cards read. What’s more LA than birria tacos and some light fortune-telling?

El Gato Night Market. Photo by Lynn Yu for L.A. TACO.
El Gato Night Market. Photo by Lynn Yu for L.A. TACO.

El Gato Night Market (Westlake)

941 S Union Ave Los Angeles, CA 90015. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Line 28 - “Olympic/Union” or Bus Line 66 - "8th/Union."

Friday through Sunday

The El Gato Night Market lies across the street from the Curacao building in Pico-Union. Slightly more extensive than the Alameda Night Market, El Gato offers everything Alameda does and more. Several vendors sell merchandise ranging from Croc gibbets and clothing to children’s toys and phone accessories. Unlike Alameda, El Gato emphasizes barbeque more, with a few vendors grilling beef, pork, and squid skewers over charcoal. You can also find a few more off-beat items here, such as Hot Cheeto-encrusted California rolls and dessert pops in the shape of … ahem, genitalia.

626 Night Market

285 Huntington Drive. Arcadia, CA 91007. Closest Metro line and stop: Bus Line 179 - “Huntington/Holly.”

Follow the 626 Night Market on Instagram to see when they are popping up next. 

The largest outdoor night market in Southern California, 626 Night Market, curates a carnival-like atmosphere. Arguably, it is also one of the first—at least the first to blow up and receive much well-deserved hype.  The 626 Night Market, which has its bigger location in Arcadia, now offers 626 Mini offshoots in Santa Monica and San Diego. With dozens upon dozens of vendors, 626 emphasizes Asian food, although one can find just about anything here. Noodles, dumplings, lobsters, oysters, sushi, and more are on offer. Some Asian desserts, ranging from Hong Kong-style egg waffles to Hello Kitty-shaped macarons, are hard to find elsewhere. It’s a great spot to take the family, as the market includes carnival games and activities. Go during golden hour, when the setting sun dapples the San Gabriel Mountains and bathes the entire market in hues of purple and orange. 626 only pops up every other month, so check their Instagram for details.

Mama’s Night Market (Arts District)

The Berrics, 2535 E 12th St, Los Angeles, CA 90021. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Line 60 - “Santa Fe/15th” or Bus Line 66 - "Olympic/Santa Fe."  

Follow Mama's Night Market to see when they are popping up next. 

One of the newest entrants in the night market game, Mama’s Night Market offers “the best of LA’s Asian and Hispanic street food.” You can find banh mi and pancit alongside conchas Negras, and baleadas. Part food festival, part dance party, Mama’s is a curated event requiring an entry ticket. A karaoke booth and arcade are among some of the alternate activities available. Mama’s is the only night market in LA that is 21+, allowing them to sell alcohol on the premises. Leave the kids at home, and come to eat and party.

tacos de canasta at Figueroa Street and Pacific Coast Highway. Photo by Javier Cabral for L.A. TACO.

Wilmington Night Market

Figueroa Street and Pacific Coast Highway, Wilmington. Closest Metro lines and stop: Metro J Line (950) - “Pacific Coast Highway Station” or Bus Lines 232 or 246 - "Figueroa/Pacific Coast Highway."

Wednesday through Sunday

This relatively new night market in L.A.’s South Bay has only operated for a few months, but it’s grown in massive popularity and attracted vendors from all backgrounds to get in on the street food action.  From “sandias locas” (whole watermelons carved out and served with enough chamoy to feed a small family) to birria and Korean BBQ,  this night market is diverse with its food options. It also deserves praise for its ample parking since it is held on the curb surrounding a Metro station-adjacent parking lot that is empty in the evenings. You’ll also find “mini-pancakes,” carnitas, tacos de canasta, and funnel cakes. Note: There are two shifts of vendors, some only in the afternoon and others available starting at 6 PM.  - Javier Cabral

Avenue 26 Night Market (Whittier)

11003 Sports Arena Drive. Whittier, CA 90601

Saturdays 5 PM to Midnight

Avenue 26 Family Night Market is arguably the Latino night market that started it all in Los Angeles. Since its move from Lincoln Heights, the famous Avenue 26 Family Night Market has now planted its roots at the Pico Rivera Sports Arena, and it’s more lively than ever. Over 50 street vendors come together every weekend to sell food and merchandise and provide a unique experience. You can find juicy carnitas, al pastor tacos, pupusas, birria, hot dogs, ceviche, and a variety of sweet dishes too. The market is family-friendly is free to the public. You are guaranteed a good time, they have live DJs to set the mood, clowns performances for the kids, and host special events such as Chicano Comedy Night and more. Don’t forget that if you are an L.A. TACO member, you can also redeem your free food item at the information desk.

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