Culture

Forget Santa Monica And Beverly Hills, Here’s How You Can Experience LA Like A Latino Local

There are guides to experiencing Beverly Hills and the Santa Monica pier, and then there are guides that actually loops you into the good stuff. Guess which category this one falls into? Instead of spending your vacation time trying to beat the crowds at Runyon Canyon and watching white boys skateboard at Venice Beach, this guide will help direct you to the true culture of Los Angeles: Latino-style.

Try to stay on the East Side if you can.

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While Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and Santa Monica are the hot spots for most tourists, all the culture is on the East Side. Echo Park and Silver Lake have become more and more gentrified, but there are still Mexican-owned restaurants that could use your business. If you stay in the Echo Park / Boyle Heights area, enjoy some of the best tamales from Tamales Alberto.

Ride the swans at Echo Park Lake.

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While most of us locals have always wanted to ride the swans, you’re on vacation so enjoy it! Locals love to gather at Echo Park Lake to meet up for dog walks, picnics and to watch the quinceañera celebrations. You don’t even have to pack any food because the street vendors have all the fruta and esquites you could ask for.

You must go to Olvera Street.

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Olvera Street is the heart of Mexican culture and history in Los Angeles. You can visit the Avila Adobe, L.A.’s oldest, still-standing house, built in 1818 by Francisco José Avila when Los Angeles was still Mexican territory. You truly can’t go wrong with any food on that block, but La Noche Buena Restaurant is the most popular lunch spot.

Salvadoreños have a huge presence in Los Angeles, and you can’t leave until you sit down for a two-hour lunch at a pupusería.

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Expect a lazy lunch because the best pupusas in Los Angeles are hand made from scratch. Expect the same kind of homemade meal from any food truck you order from as well. While you’re here, you haven’t experienced Los Angeles until you’ve eaten from a food truck. For a vegan take on tacos, you can’t go wrong with Cena Vegan or Plant Food for People.

The Grand Central Market has un poquito de todo for whatever you’re craving.

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Located in the heart of downtown, Grand Central Market is the place to go when nobody in your group can decide on what to eat. You can enjoy vegan ramen at Ramenhood, or plátanos and pupusas at Sarita’s Pupusería. Be sure to stop at Chiles Secos to bring back specialty mole for your mama.

Skip Pink’s Hot Dogs and go to the Latino drag club, Plaza, next door.

Credit: Plaza / Yelp

Pink’s Hot Dogs is a cult favorite hot dog stand in Los Angeles, with hour-long lines between you and dinner. If you have the time to go to say you did, go for it, but be sure you don’t miss the real gem down the street. Plaza has been open for over 40 years and remains the spot for Latinx queer folks looking for a great show. The venue is cash only, with drinks as expensive as $8. Show up with cash in hand and lose the disappointment to hear about the cash, and you’ll look like a local.

We’re not going to Runyon Canyon today.

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Just a thirty-minute drive from the East Side of Los Angeles is Hermit Falls. It’s a relatively easy hike, at 2.5 miles with just 700 feet of elevation gain, but the rewards are endless. In the LA summer, even a mile-long hike will leave you yearning for a cold pool to plunge in, and Hermit Falls offers just that, plus enormous granite rocks to jump off from into the cold water. Hermit Falls isn’t maintained by a forest service, so the graffiti art is there to stay.

If you don’t have a car to get to Hermit Falls, try Griffith Park instead of Runyon. You get all the same views, with far fewer crowds. 

While you’re already out of town, stop at Mitla Café, the restaurant Taco Bell ripped off.

Credit: Netflix

Mitla opened in 1937 when Mexicans were still segregated from the newly settled white population of San Bernadino. The local activists who would gather at Mitla, their solitary safe space, would go on to form the Mexican Chamber of Commerce. Mitla is a keystone of the Mexican community in San Bernadino, and while Glen Bell ripped off the family recipes and turned it into a billion-dollar empire (Taco Bell), the family is still running the same taquería that’s been passed down for generations.

READ: Los Angeles Is Home To Some Of The Greatest Pupusas And Here’s Where You Can Find Them

Lisa Frank And Hotels.com Created An Apartment That Looks Like The Inside Of Your 3rd Grade Backpack

Culture

Lisa Frank And Hotels.com Created An Apartment That Looks Like The Inside Of Your 3rd Grade Backpack

LisaFrank / Instagram

Calling all ’90s kids. Was there ever a better feeling in the world than getting a new shimmery, colorful Lisa Frank binder? We all know that one person who had the whole kit; pencils, erasers, notebooks, stickers. Maybe that person was you or maybe they were someone you were always just a little jealous of, whether you admit it or not. It was a rainbow-colored explosion in every elementary and middle school in the ’90s. Yet, Lisa Frank stationery wants to make the experience immersive. You now have a chance to stay in an apartment decorated in the signature rainbow-colored and slightly psychedelic style of the ’90s brand.

The Lisa Frank apartment, a collaboration between Lisa Frank and Hotels.com, screams nostalgia.

Credit: Hotels.com

Lisa Frank teamed up with Hotels.com to bring your ’90s backpack to life. Hospitality company Barsala, which specializes in delivering the best value for price to their customers. A lucky few fans will be transported to the wonderful world of fluffy rainbows, unicorns, golden retrievers, and technicolor dolphins. The Lisa Frank-themed penthouse is in the Los Angeles Fashion District in downtown. But if you want to stay there, you better hurry. The room is only available for a couple of weeks this month only.

“We wanted to design a room that celebrates all things ’90s, and nothing screams childhood nostalgia more than these iconic designs,” Adam Jay, president of Hotels.com told Curbed LA.

The bed has Lisa Frank sheets and duvet and there are pillows with the trademark colorful kitties and puppies of the brand.

Credit: LisaFrank / Instagram

The bedroom features a hot-pink four-poster bed with a light-up canopy outfitted with Lisa Frank’s signature chromatic bedding and rainbow-hued curtains. There’s a wall-sized mural featuring some of Lisa Frank’s most iconic designs like the rainbows coming out of fluffy clouds, the bear dressed like an Elton John-styled magician, and all of the animals and characters we remember.

The bathroom is an underwater technicolor oasis with all of the Lisa Frank nautical designs we all recognize.

Credit: LisaFrank / Instagram

The bathroom walls are decorated with Lisa Frank’s underwater scenes that graced out school folders for years. Heart-shaped bubbles, rainbow colored tropical fish, and the famous pink and blue dolphins cover the bathroom walls. It is everything you ever wanted your parents to do for your bedroom and bathroom growing up.

Of course, Lisa Frank’s chromatic animal print collection is on full display in the kitchen. 

Credit: LisaFrank / Instagram

You’ll find a true rainbow color spectrum in this kitchen from bright pink to pale blue and all the colors in between. Lisa Frank’s iconic animal prints come to life on the cupboards. Yellow zebra print, a red leopard print that fades to orange. The best part? The kitchen comes fully stocked with the most iconic vibrant-colored candy from your childhood —like Gushers, Pop-Tarts, Pixy Stix, and Planters Cheez Balls.

Get in touch with your inner pop artist with all the stationery and Lisa Frank goodies you can take home.

Credit: Hotels.com

If all the rainbows and colors are making you inspired, next to the lounge area, there’s an office space complete with all the cutesy rainbow Lisa Frank stationery you could ever want. The desk comes supplied with pencils, post-its, notepads and stickers. If ever we wanted to smuggle something out of a hotel room, this is it. 

Guests even get limited edition robes, slippers, and sleep-masks.

Credit: Hotels.com

With your booking, you get to take all of the goodies you like. The candy, the stationery, the Lisa Frank-embroidered robes, and slippers, all yours for the rate of $199 a night.

Yes, Lisa Frank is a real person, but the art was a collaborative effort.

Credit: LisaFrank / Instagram

The Lisa Frank brand first rose to prominence in the 1980s and ’90s as purveyors of hyper-bright, animal-centric school supplies, including Trapper Keepers, pencil bags, backpacks, stickers, and stationery. Lisa Frank is a real person and started the company while she was still in college. However, many artists collaborated to design the illustrations. 

“The artwork was a collaborative effort, but it all began with me putting it on paper as a marker rendering,” Rondi Kutz, who was Lisa Frank Inc.’s Senior Designer and Product Development Leader told HelloGiggles. “The concepts came from Lisa, James (her husband), or me, so I can say that some of the characters were my idea and original design. But by the time it went on to an illustrator to redraw it, adding detail, then to a computer artist who rendered it on the computer (which entailed hundreds of hours of work), it had many artists’ stamps on it.” Kutz went on to work at the company until 2002.

Other notable themed properties available to rent (not on Hotels.com) include Bella Swan’s house from “Twilight,” a “Taco Bell inn” pop-up and the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile. Stays at the Lisa Frank Apartment are available only from October 11 through 27. The cost per night is $199 and the room can only be booked through Hotels.com.

READ: This Mexican Hotel Will Give You Unlimited Tequila And Let You Sleep Inside A Tequila Barrel

Snapchat And El Pollo Loco Is Using Augmented Reality To Let People Revisit Lost Murals In Los Angeles

Culture

Snapchat And El Pollo Loco Is Using Augmented Reality To Let People Revisit Lost Murals In Los Angeles

El Pollo Loco

For National Hispanic Heritage Month, El Pollo Loco is paying tribute to lost Latino heritage in Los Angeles by restoring a series of murals across the city. Through the power of Snapchat and augmented reality, the California-based food chain is teaming up with Warren Brand, a curator and board member of Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles, to have users go to five blank walls in Los Angeles where iconic murals used to be. There, you can open the Snapchat app, tap on the background to prompt the World Lenses feature and point your phone at the wall. Users will then see a mural that was once located there come to life on their phone screen. The various five mural locations can be found by visiting the website Lostmuralsla.com.  

“We wanted to pay tribute to our Hispanic heritage and Los Angeles roots by preserving the lost Latino artwork and culture for a new generation to experience,” says Bernard Acoca, President and Chief Executive Officer at El Pollo Loco. “For us, this is more than just a moment in time, this is part of our continued commitment to serve the communities that molded and influenced our company.

The campaign is more than just a showcase of cool technology but a way to educate and spread awareness on an issue many might not be aware of. 

Credit: El Pollo Loco

Los Angeles has a deep and profound history when it comes to murals. During the late 1960s and ’70s, Latino artists took to walls to express views on political and social issues, including student uprisings and civil rights struggles. This coincided with the Chicano Pride movement during that period that flourished in East LA and the San Fernando Valley. 

With all this explosion of creativity happening, LA would be referred to as the “mural capital of the world,”  with an estimated 2,500 murals up on city walls during the height of this movement. Then, they started disappearing. According to El Pollo Loco, “Around 60 percent of murals in Los Angeles have vanished due to whitewashing, censorship, carelessness, or a lack of resources for preservation.” 

This was reason enough for the company to bring awareness to this and celebrate the legacy of these murals. Murals are also a part of the history of El Pollo Loco as the food-chain had it’s start in LA and has a mural of it’s own at it’s first store. 

“Los Angeles, one of the greatest mural capitals of the world, has seen an estimated 60 percent of murals vanish experts say,” Acoca said. “Because Los Angeles has been our hometown since 1980 and is the city that inspired the soul of our brand, we want to honor it and our mutual Hispanic heritage.”

In this spirit, El Pollo Loco will also be restoring some murals of their own, including one at its original location.  

Credit: El Pollo Loco

While the campaign will run through October 15, El Pollo Loco will be making some permanent fixtures on LA city walls. To ensure that this restoration of murals survives, the company will be donating its own storefronts as canvases to new murals.

“El Pollo Loco is paying homage to its heritage and the art that was once on Los Angeles’ walls by donating storefronts as the canvases to new murals. The first mural will be painted on El Pollo Loco’s original restaurant location on Alvarado Street, which since opening in 1980 has featured an indoor mural depicting life in Sinaloa, Mexico, the childhood home of the company’s founder,” Acoca said. 

For LA-based muralists Juan Hector Ponce and Hector “Hex” Rios, this campaign is personal to them as some of their work was once erased due to whitewashing. They both were contacted by El Pollo Loco to be a part of the project and help recreate some of their past work. Ponce and his son will be recreating a storefront as part of the campaign that will be a permanent fixture. He says that he is confident that a new generation will take a lot from this campaign and be able to lead a new era of murals in the city. 

“The new generations, with use of technology and the internet, are stronger than previous generations. And those of us older painters still left are proud to see them create,” Ponce said. “While it saddens me that at times people don’t appreciate the beauty of our walls, it serves as a reminder of how important it is that we as a community continue painting more of them.

You can find the digital murals at the following locations:

“Nuestra Gente es Linda y Poderosa” – 2841 Boulder Street, Los Angeles

“Hex BBOY” – 417 East 15th Street, Los Angeles

“SK8 Still Lives” – 7753 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles

“Migration” – 1262 South Lake Street, Los Angeles

“Zapata” – 2000 W 6th Street, Los Angeles

READ: Historic Chicano Murals Were Whitewashed All Over Los Angeles But A New Movement Is Bringing Them Back