Mercado La Paloma Community Dinner: Global cuisine and community empowerment
// By Jacqueline Brennan
Mercado La Paloma is known for its “vibrant treasure trove of internationally eclectic food,” but it’s so much more than that. It is a shining example that community revitalization can be successfully achieved without the displacement of residents. You’ll learn about this unique community experiment while enjoying delectable international dishes during the Upswell Community Dinner at Mercado La Paloma.
Located in South Central LA’s Figueroa Corridor, just three blocks from the University of Southern California, Mercado La Paloma was once “an old garment sweat shop warehouse of labor exploitation,” says Nancy Halpern Ibrahim, Executive Director of the Esperanza Community Housing Corporation. The social justice nonprofit is committed to investing in the community, which includes many Indigenous, Black, and Latino immigrants. With program areas that include affordable housing, health, arts and sciences, education, and economic development, the Corporation amplifies its impact through strategic partnerships with community members, nonprofits, businesses, and policy makers.
Esperanza transformed the dilapidated warehouse into a visionary space that offered immigrant residents business ownership and job opportunities, creating 300 jobs. The 30,000 square foot, two-story building is a popular community gathering place that includes seven restaurants, as well as shops featuring Mexican and Central and South American folk arts. It also includes space on the second floor for nonprofits and Esperanza’s health programs.
You’ll eat in the common dining area where locals and tourists alike partake in menu selections that include Ethiopian vegan, hamburgers, steak, chicken, and vegetarian salads, Yucatan dishes, Oaxacan-inspired food, Mexican seafood and dishes from Michoacán, and traditional Thai cuisine.
Then you’ll gather to hear a panel featuring Esperanza staff and some of Mercado la Paloma’s business owners, who’ll share how their passion and desire for self-determination led to their establishment of successful first-time family owned enterprises.
Upswell’s Community Dinners offer changemakers a chance to get out of the hotel, sit down over a meal with first-time acquaintances, leave with brand-new friends, and experience firsthand how bonding over food and mission might lead to an innovative solution.
To sign up for this Community Dinner, check the box beside Mercado La Paloma when you register for Upswell.