2008 Best (and Worst) of Latino L.A.
In order to get the best of the best of Latino L.A. in 2008, here at Remezcla we tapped into the minds of people whose taste buds we trust and opinions we care about. We hit up a few scenesters to form our own group of panelists and get the deets on their favorite Latinocentric spots and people in their hoods. They also told us what they didn’t like, and we got some very interesting feedback. Feel free to post your own and let us know how you rate your street food, DJs, and the best spot to buy pan.
Best street food: Paletas. They’re everywhere. If you feel
like having one, just look up.
Runner-up: Pico de gallo. Picos are sweet, sour, salty
and spicy, but sometimes
you can get a bad fruit. You can drink the lemon juice
with chile at the bottom. Paletas sometimes have strawberry and cream at the bottom.
Best on the Ones and Twos: The crew at Más Exitos every other Tuesday at Verdugo Bar in Glassell Park. Don’t sleep.
Hardest working band: Very Be Careful. Hardest working and hardest drinking. They also kick the most ass and move the most ass.
Breakthrough artist: Gary Garay. If you didn’t see his work at the Phantom Sightings show at LACMA, you can see it here. Also, painter Mark Ayala. He doesn’t have a website, so just keep an eye out for him.
Best after hours spot: My lil’ man’s bed reading Curious George Goes to the Chocolate Factory for the 100th time.
Best concert of year: The Mars Volta in downtown. See shitty YouTube here.
Best meal under $10: Without a doubt, My Taco in Highland Park. I go there so much that one day, the lady at the counter asked me, "Donde ha estado, tenemos dias que no lo mirabamos?"
Wish we had: a Mexican American Cultural Center here. That would be dope. It’s unbelievable that this city doesn’t have one. Furthermore…Wait. What? They’re working on it? Okay, cool.
Best spot to buy pan: Panaderia La Espiga on Glendale Blvd. in Echo Park. I’ll have the concha and the puerquito. Thank you.
Most innovative cultural program: Imix Bookstore in Eagle Rock. Art, letters and intelligent conversation.
Local Latino discovery of the year: Education.
Song of the year: "Mala Suerte con el 13" by Calle 13 feat. Mala Rodriguez. Just listen to it. On the same album, check out "Pal Norte."
Best taco truck: The trucks and stands at Cesar Chavez and Breed Streets. Dos de lengua y uno de cabeza. Con todo.
KCRW intern/architectural firm secretary
Best street food: Bacon wrapped hot dogs. Is that
considered a Latino food?
Best on the Ones and Twos: Raul Campos
Hardest working band: Los Lobos
Latinosploitation film of the year: Can’t think of any except that mention of "dirty Mexican water" by Miranda in
the Sex and the City movie.
Breakthrough artist: Favianna Rodriguez. She’s in between the Bay and L.A., but an L.A. baby all the way!
Best after hours spot: Tacos Mexico.
Best concert of year: Sunset Junction, even though I missed it this year :(
Best meal under $10: Free nacho bar at Barragan’s on Wednesdays with the purchase of a $2.50 margarita!
Most inauthentic "Latin" restaurant: Malo in Silver Lake.
Best spot for drinks: Barragan’s on Wednesdays… gotta love inexpensive margaritas.
Wish we had: more Latino youth programs here.
Best spot to buy every ingredient needed for mole: Grand Central Market in downtown.
Most innovative cultural program: Olvera Street. Helps the gringos appreciate Mexican culture.
Local Latino discovery of the year: That we can get past racial boundaries and come together by electing a "minority" to serve our nation.
Song of the year: "Para Siempre" by Vicente Fernandez
Best taco truck: The one on Alvarado next to Vons in Echo Park.
USC Journalism student/freelance writer &
Best street food: La Abeja on North Figueroa Street on
the border of Highland Park and Cypress Park. It dates
back to the 60s and makes sure the rice is orange, the
beans aren’t soupy and the cooks are a decade deep
into perfecting the art of Mexican food. If you love
champurrado, find your way there right now.
Best on the Ones and Twos: DJ Santi comes to mind immediately. He spins modern, flashback and rock en espanol at Turn Off The Radio parties.
Hardest working band: Someone give The Blood Arm some love. I’m dead sure the lead singer is Latino and possibly goes by the name of Nathaniel. They rocked it at the first LA Weekly Detour Festival and continue to make funky, catchy music with an extraordinary stage performance.
Latinosploitation film of the year: Can’t think of a film, but a Latino exploitation issue that needs to be put out there is the carwasheros’ wages and benefits. The people who wash cars for a living are being seriously exploited. Nobody deserves that kind of treatment.
Breakthrough artist: Gustavo Muñiz. He has captivating woodcuts of hearts, calaveras, ironic situations and other work that any fan of the arts would appreciate. He happily teaches at FIDM.
Best concert of year: Thievery Corporation at the Hollywood Bowl. It was like world music day with Latin American artists handpicked by KCRW. Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela and other countries were represented. I had box seats front row center.
Best meal under $10: El Atacor tacos in Cypress Park. Preferably, the site next to the gas station on North Figueroa and Avenue 26. Jonathan Gold even likes the place.
Best spot for drinks: BevMo in Pasadena.
Wish we had: a Latin film festival that ranks among the best in the world. Wait, there’s LALIFF, but it hasn’t reached its potential after too many years.
Most innovative cultural program: LATC
Local Latino discovery of the year: I hope everyone is aware that L.A. does have a river and it’s not just a channel lined with concrete walls. Peep lariver.org for more information.
Mucho Wednesdays creator
Song of the year: "Monitor." Ximena Sariñanas’ version.
Best on the ones and twos: Pump Police
Hardest working band: Love Grenades
Best after-hours spot: The spontaneous private ones in
downtown L.A. Mexican Dubweiser has been doing his thing consistently for a minute.
Latinosploitation film of the year: Sadly, I don’t think we even had one of those this year. Hijole. Que Hollywood, ni que Hollywood.
Breakthrough artist: Vincent Valdez. He’s been around for a while (well, he’s only 29), but I discovered him through Cheech Marin’s show "Los Angelenos/Chicano Painters of L.A." at LACMA. He does these hyper (photo) realistic paintings that just cut you to the core with emotional narratives—street scenes, fight scenes, the human experience. I wish I was that good.
Most innovative cultural program: I’d have to say Sunset Junction, but only because they shove everyone on that bill. With the food vendors and the neighborhood itself, it really mixes up different cultural backgrounds.There’s several really great new live music events for free too, like the Grand Performances series and Battery Park in Pasadena. MacArthur Park’s music series was on point too. I saw Poncho Sanchez, Quetzal, and some amazing live jazz there. You can bring your own drinks. Its been a pretty good year for free live music in L.A.
Best street food: The tamale guy who shows up at the bars all along Sunset between the Short Stop and the 4100 Bar. Man, those tamales always taste like the best thing you’ve ever eaten, especially after four Jägerbombs. Runner-up: The taquitos from Juanita’s at Plazita Olvera.
Best meal under $10: Dino’s firey Greek chicken. Dammit. I just made that stupid line even longer. Don’t ask me for an address.
Most inauthentic "Latin" restaurant: Velvet Margarita Cantina in Hollywoood. Crappy margaritas. Don’t ever go there, unless your already loaded and looking to pick-up a fellow drunkard.
Best spot for drinks: La Cita. It’s where I have my Mucho Wednesday party, but it’s the best place for cheap drinks! Valeria’s Micheladas are UNRIVALED!
Best spot to buy hard-to-find ingredients/products from Latin America: I live in Cypress park. It has everything I could Mexi-need.
Best taco truck: Herbert and Olympic after 7p.m. They make tortillas fresh right there on the spot and have tons of fixings.
Best concert of 2008: Radiohead/Boredoms with 88
drummers at La Brea Tar Pits
Hardest working band: Very Be Careful.
Latinosploitation film of the year: Aren’t they all
sploitation films?? Why were we the only ones NOT
exploited in Tropic Thunder?
Best street food: Cactus tacos.
Best meal under $10: El Parian and Zankou Chicken.
Most inauthentic "Latin" restaurant: El Conquistador.
Best spot for drinks: That place in between Sunset and Hollywood on Western at the hotel.
Best spot to buy hard-to-find ingredients/products from Latin America: Grand Central Market.
Local Latino discovery of the year: I discovered Europe this year. They love my golden brown skin…
Wish we had: Puerto Rican food, baby!
Best taco truck: Eagle Rock? Rambos?