In a city notorious for glitz, glamor, and gluttonous consumption of all that glitters, Santee Alley is a total anomaly. This is the classic unvarnished street bazaar where product piles vertically in funky stalls along claustrophobic corridors.
The alley's 150+ stalls are run by enterprising immigrants from Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East. Overwhelmingly, the merchandise is women's wear and accessories, though men's apparel, electronics, and toys are wedged within the selections. Brand names are well-represented, but much of what you see are knock-offs.
Santee Alley is really the antithesis of how most perceive L.A. - a human ant hill of jostling, elbow to elbow shoppers. The food carts peddling chili and lime infused mangos, tacos, and churros provide respite from the eternal quest for the ulitmate bargains.
Your plastic money is irrelevant here, it's all cash and carry. Bring dollars, shopping bags, a sun visor, and elbow pads.
From the Santa Monica Freeway (10 eastbound) take the Harbor Freeway (110 north) and exit Olympic Blvd. Go right on Olympic several blocks to Santee.