The busy Lincoln Heights night market is no more, at least for now. Public officials in city trucks are currently blocking off both ends of Artesian Street in the industrial area just off the 110 freeway, though reps for the city have yet to offer a formal statement.
Colloquially known as the Avenue 26 Night Market, in part because of the long-running taco stand of the same name that has operated there for a decade-plus, the evening and weekend collection of vendors had become a massive draw in the last few months for people eager to get out and eat in the open air. And while the industrial stretch of street has housed some vendors for many years, the rise of TikTok and a year of pent-up anxiety amid a pandemic pushed the market to new limits — and frustrated some locals in the process.
With no formal governing body or logistical structures in place, vendors would compete for street space while customers often parked illegally throughout the area. Some locals complained about a lack of trash cans for the dozens of vendors and thousands of customers, and others fought to have the street itself closed to dangerous vehicle traffic in the narrow alleyway.
Eater reached out to councilmember Gil Cedillo to discuss the sudden closure, which comes just days after an LA Times column calling for the temporary suspension of the unregulated market. In a statement sent after Eater’s story went live, Cedillo’s office said:
We support the economic opportunity that night markets provide to vendors and the culinary experiences it provides to consumers. However, it is unacceptable the way this site has negatively impacted the quality of life of Lincoln Heights residents and businesses. The illegal activity taking place at the Ave 26/Artesian Night Market is unacceptable. Our duty is to maintain clean, safe and secure neighborhoods.
The statement was sent with a full press release that claims “public urination and defecation” and “crime and violence” had become a part of the night market scene, and that the councilmember’s office worked with various city agencies to fully close the market. There is no timetable for its return.
Vendors at the market tell Eater that public officials have been increasing their pressure on the market in recent weeks, including more parking enforcement on side streets during early evening hours. One person familiar with the market tells Eater that public officials believe the market could be revived in a more regulated way, but there’s no timeline for that to happen as of yet. Los Angeles has historically been loathe to allow fully licensed street vending in any large-scale and meaningful way, so it seems unlikely that Avenue 26 will return any time soon.
As for Avenue 26 Tacos, the longstanding Mexican food stand that has anchored the Artesian Street food scene for more than a decade? The family has expanded to a standalone restaurant in Downtown Los Angeles and to a food truck in the Eagle Rock area. For the other one-off vendors, it remains to be seen when, where, and if they will return. More on this as it comes.