There’s much excitement in downtown San Gabriel, as we wait for the much-ballyhooed Blossom Market Hall (264 S. Mission Drive, San Gabriel; www.blossommarkethall.com) to open after a long COVID-inspired delay.
It promises to be a joyous destination for those of us who live to shop, with a food court filed with uniquely tasty options — the Banh Mi Bar, the Caribbean Gourmet, the wonderfully named Burnt Belly barbecue stand, Sushi Rolland, Spotless Burgers, Manduyo Korean Fusion, La Olla Mexican, Rori’s Artisanal Creamery, the Honey & Hive Acai Bar — and enough coffee (at AK Fresh Roast), tea (at Circle Tea Bar) and beer and wine (at Angel & Mason) to keep shoppers well lubricated for a day spent abusing their credit limits.
Meanwhile, the Valley is rich with freshly opened culinary markets, both opulent and down-to-Earth, opened in repurposed buildings and in even more repurposed shipping containers — a trend that sounds ever so quirky, but actually works ever so well — which we’ll get to in a moment. But let us begin with the Glendora Public Market (905 E. Arrow Hwy., Glendora; 626-657-8927, www.glendorapublicmarket.com), which like the Blossom Market Hall, has been in the works for months, semi-opened, but not quite up to speed till now.
The Public Market sits in the venerable Wonder Bread building, a warehouse dating back to the 1940s, with a culinary DNA of the food we all grew up with. I have fond memories of not just rating sandwiches made on Wonder Bread, but rolling up the dough, and using it to capture images created in ink and pencil. You could both eat the stuff — and use it as a primitive form of Silly Putty.
The current incarnation of the Public Market dates back to 2018. And like the Blossom Market, it’s suffered through more than its share of delays. (I remember first dropping by a year ago, only to find only a fraction of the vendors open for business.)
It’s a handsome space, with exposed brick walls, and what’s described as “20 foot barrel vault ceilings and wooden truss.” Parking is pretty good too, with a larger outside lot. And inside, the culinary options are many — beginning, as do several of the food halls, with a brewery. In this case, Smog City Brewing from Torrance, a much acclaimed purveyor of local craft beers that remind us that, like the bread we eat these days, our tastes in beer have grown up as well.
And, of course, along with beer, there’s java to be inhaled from Penny Coffee Roaster, and chewy tea from the Boba Break Tea House. And there’s much to eat, from restaurants which are, in at least some of the cases, more familiar than the ones at Blossom Market. Most notable is a food hall version of the suitably madcap franks from the Dog Haus…and crazed burgers (and more) from Belly Bombz.
When it comes to those two, which are to be found giving us much culinary nuttiness in several locations around SoCal, the presence of a brewery is much appreciated. I’m sorry, but a Diet Coke just doesn’t do much to get down the heavily layered dishes at the Dog Haus and (the perfectly named) Belly Bombz. This is high-test cuisine, in need of some major lubrication to get it moving through the sluices.
And of course, at the Public Market, there’s more — the Taco Man, Cassidy’s Corner Café, Portside Fish Co., Crepes & Shakes, Bolo (for fried things) and your choice of ramen, hand rolls and karaage from Bushi by Jinya.
And then, there’s BLVD MRKT (520 Whittier Blvd., Montebello; 323-863-5566, www.blvdmrkt.com), which follows the trend of turning the sort of oversized shipping containers seen on the cargo ships stranded off the coast into food stands.
As with the Public Market, it’s built around beer — Alchemy Craft — which sits in an adjacent warehouse, offering beers with names like Caballo Bravo (Mexican lager from Angry Horse Brewing) and O’Ryan’s Red from Over Town Brewing Co.
Outside, there are wooden tables surrounded by the containers which hold kitchens offering pupusas (at V Chos), Mexican seafood (at Pez Cantina), Cajun & Creole (at NOLA, with many terrific po’boys), and tacos (at Los Taquero Mucho), with a branch of The Chicken Koop under construction. Good chow, fine outdoor seating — and if the weather’s hot, you’ll be glad for the beer. Though isn’t one always?
Merrill Shindler is a Los Angeles-based freelance dining critic. Email email@example.com.