Sometimes on a weekend when D and I find ourselves without any plans, we ride the train up to downtown Los Angeles. We mainly go to eat at one little Mexican stand called Rodolfo’s.
Rodolpho’s is situated smack in the middle of the bustling and ever so colorful Olvera Street, a charming little brick-lined alley inducing visions of old Mexico. It also has an interesting history of being the oldest part of downtown Los Angeles. Olvera Street is conveniently located right across the street from Union Station – the historic Los Angeles train station serving as a hub for commuters on weekdays and travelers on weekends.
The first time we stumbled across Rodolfo’s little shack, we were enthralled by the long line of customers, the delicious wafting smell of carne and fried goodness, and the single chef in the window with seemingly 8 hands. We ordered what seemed to be popular here – chilaquiles in red sauce.
And was it good! Crispy tortilla chips fried again, smothered with a savory red sauce, melted together with cheese (the kind that pulls), and topped with a couple of scrambled eggs.
So good that we would find ourselves craving it. And the the only cure is to hop on the train and make a stop at Rodolfo’s.
Afterwards, we would explore downtown Los Angeles on foot, and head back home on the last train of the day.
Downtown Los Angeles is full of surprises and never two adventures are the same.
There was the time we walked to Chinatown, and went through an unassuming entryway simply labeled as “shopping”, only to walk through what seemed like miles and miles of mazes of stalls. Hats, bedazzled cardigans, trinkets, Chinese gowns… anything you can ever think of adorned the hundreds of stalls. We walked through tight, windy trails and there seemed to be no. way. out. When we finally emerged on the other side, I was pretty sure we had just walked through the center of Earth to China.
There was the other time we walked along Broadway, admiring the 1920s art deco architecture, when I stopped dead in my tracks at an open counter-style eatery called Eggslut. EGGSLUT! How could I not be intrigued?! We walked in to find out more, only to enter a giant marketplace with endless food stalls and grocery stands. We later found out this was the historical landmark Grand Central Market (317 S. Broadway). This sprawling market includes produce, fresh seafood, a butcher shop, specialty stalls, as well as the best of local Los Angeles cuisine.
We didn’t end up eating at Eggslut. Once we walked in, we became instantly distracted by the dozens of other food offerings (everything from pupusas to seafood, Chinese to kebabs), and instead had a very good meal of hainan chicken at the Sticky Rice counter.
Other notable Downtown LA attractions within walking distance of Union Station are:
Take a stroll to the cultural yet trendy Little Tokyo, where museums, shopping, and dining abound. You’ve never really had ramen until you’ve had it at one of the numerous authentic Japanese ramen joints here. Partake in Orochon’s spicy ramen challenge if you dare (123 Astronaut E S Onizuka St #303)!
Visit the iconic, steely Walt Disney Concert Hall | 135 North Grand Avenue – an architectural marvel whether you love it or not.
Ride the Angels Flight | 351 S Hill St – the world’s shortest railway! 50 cents will get you a one-way ride up Bunker Hill.
Take a free tour through the oldest house in Los Angeles, the “Avila Adobe”, still preserved with the adobe clay and original furnishings. The entrance is off of Olvera Street.
Relax and people-watch at the new, fun (and pink!) Grand Park, which gives downtown explorers 3 entire city blocks of greenery and landscaping in an otherwise concrete jungle.
Wander down Broadway and admire the 1920’s architecture, and hit up the fashion district (spanning 100 blocks if you have the stamina!) and jewelry district.
And then meander just one block east to Spring Street, and be immediately transported to a different century with new trendy restaurants, bars, and cafes.
Love it or hate it, there’s no denying that downtown Los Angeles is eclectic, vibrant, and brimming with history. At the same time, new developments and gentrifying neighborhoods keep the area interesting and progressive. In between the old and new, around every corner is something different, and every activity is an adventure. Whether you are visiting from afar, or (like us) just looking for a backyard adventure, a day out in downtown Los Angeles will excite and inspire no matter what you decide to do.
But seriously, don’t forget to stop by Rodolfo’s.