What’s the end of the year without a “Best of” list? Here at Remezcla, we keep it local, taking a look back at the past 365 days in Los Angeles. I thought this was going to be easy, but pinpointing my best and worst of Latino L.A. is hard work. A: I suck at making decisions and B. There’s tons of good spots in this city! Like the late prophet Tupac (R.I.P.) said, “To live and die in L.A. It’s the place to be.”
Best street food: The churro truck on Echo Park Avenue.
Runner-up: Those creamy yogurt/granola/fruit cups they sell in the alleys downtown. I thought I was eating healthy until I discovered they’re made with tons of cream and sweetened condensed milk. Can you tell I have a serious sweet tooth?
Best on the Ones and Twos: Anthony Valadez makes super sexy and danceable soul, electronica, and hip hop beats.
Hardest working band: Upground. They’re everywhere. So talented and so young.
Latinosploitation film of the year: That Beverly Hills Chihuahua movie. WTF? Sure the actors got paid out by Disney, but damn!
Most Latin film-friendly theater: There’s a lack of Latino-friendly theatres where large majority of Latinos live in the city. For example, in Montebello, where I grew up, we have an AMC but they don’t feature any indie films or movies with substance. All we get are the big blockbuster movies that usually suck. I’d have to say the Highland Theatre in Highland Park. $3 movies anyone?
Breakthrough artist: Germs. His work is the shit.
Runner-up: Abraham Acosta. This kid’s story is amazing. He spent his whole teenage years behind bars, but taught himself to paint while locked up. Now he creates art to deal with the stress of a brain tumor and crazy ass life. I have mad respect for people who turn their lives around.
Best meal under $10: J&S in Montebello. Hands down. Can I just say, bean and cheese burrito, an order of taquitos with guacamole and dark red mole sauce, and an orange bang for $3 bucks? I die and go to heaven every time I eat there.
Most inauthentic “Latin” restaurant: Any spot that has a white table cloth and serves dishes over $20. I won’t condone such places.
Best spot for drinks: Barragan’s in Echo Park. Yes, I’m cheap when it comes to alcohol. $2.50 margaritas rimmed with plenty of salt taste like they’re made with top shelf tequila after two.
Wish we had: more nonprofit organizations that work with young people incarcerated like they do in S.F.
Most Latin music-friendly venue: La Cita
Best spot to buy mole paste: El Mercado in East L.A.
Most innovative cultural program: Plaza de la Raza in Lincoln Heights. They offer really good performing arts classes to the community, like mariachi voice and guitar, salsa and folklorico.
Song of the year: “Autonomo” by Bocafloja.
Most memorable Independence Day Celebration: Our annual block parties on Eckhart Avenue in South San Gabriel. Imagine: Slip ’n Slide, DJ The Future, food cooked by every family on the block, a dessert table, all the alcohol you can drink, and illegal fireworks once the sun goes down.
WTF? Why are hipsters giving us young and hip a bad rep?
Best taco truck: Ford and Findlay at the border of Monterey Park and East L.A. The best fish tacos outside of Ensenada! God, I’m craving one now!!!!