Downtown's Urban Radish, the first gourmet market of its kind in the Arts District, celebrated its grand opening Saturday with a ribbon-cutting, samples galore and crowds of shoppers.
After the 9 a.m. ribbon-cutting, shoppers sampled Urban Radish's signature coffee, quinoa cookies, house-made Maui-style jerky and Weiser Family Farms melons as co-owner Carol Paxton led tours to point out Cotton Candy grapes, dried morels, baby romanesco and the store's growing wine section.
The market opened in a neighborhood that formerly had few grocery options, even though restaurants have started to burgeon. "As a resident of the Arts District, I've seen this area develop" into a food lover's destination, Paxton said. Restaurants such as Church & State and Bestia, the bakery Bread Lounge and Handsome Coffee Roasters are within walking distance. Stumptown Coffee also soon will open in the area.
The 8,000-square-foot, light-filled warehouse was designed by Creative Space in what was a glass factory. The giant chipmunk mural on the side of the building was painted by Belgian street muralist Peter Roa.
The parking lot houses an electric-car charging station, and at the building's entrance is an outdoor patio with picnic tables, where customers can eat prepared food from the deli.
"I'm not into ham, but this ham ... ," said one shopper over samples of Fra Mani's rosemary ham and La Quercia's prosciutto Americano. The deli carries a wide selection of charcuterie as well as cheeses cared for by a cheesemonger who formerly worked at Cowgirl Creamery and Neal's Yard Dairy in London.
Other shoppers loaded up their double-decker carts and recyclable jute bags with Monograno pasta, Cadia gelato, packaged Let's Be Frank hot dogs, Community Grains hard red winter wheat flour and house-smoked salmon.
The butcher counter also makes its own sausages and offers meat from subprimal cuts -- and eventually from whole animals. "My grandfather was a butcher," Paxton said. "It was important for us to observe traditions." (The market's tagline is "a market rooted in tradition.")
Paxton said that among the biggest challenges has been finding the right mix of gourmet goods at the right prices. "It's a balance, but we have to remain committed to quality."
The market is open daily 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
661 Imperial St. (between Jesse and 7th streets), Los Angeles, www.urban-radish.com.