The Five Best East L.A. Backyard Punk Bands: Bonus Story on LA Weekly Music!

Growing up in the East L.A., it seemed like everyone tried to form a punk band. Even I did. The scene goes through bands quickly, as kids graduate high school and get into metal, thrash or New York style hardcore. But there are a proud few that have evolved musically without forgetting their roots.

Here is my personal list of the top five East Los Angeles punk bands that play backyards. It wasn’t easy to compile; after all, lots of groups claim East L.A. for street cred, but aren’t even from the ‘hood! Disgusting right? So, I did my research. (On Monday look for my top five East L.A. punk bands of all time.)

To find out the bands, check out my bonus article on the LA Weekly Music Blog!


Introducing The Boyle Heights Farmers Market: A Neighborhood Place For Seasonal Fruit And Live Music (Fridays 3-8 PM; Mariachi Plaza)

boyle heights farmers market

Boyle Heights Farmers Market: No, Que No?

Its with great honor and East L.A pride that I introduce to you a new Farmers Market on the L.A scene: Boyle Heights yo!

…AND What!?

The community focused celebration of the seasons takes place every Friday from 3 to 7 PM in the historic Mariachi Plaza on First and Boyle (that’s right! that new Eastside extension gold line stop…)

This was four years in the making, it was the mutual efforts of Juan Romero, Juan Escobedo and Antonia Juarez that made it all finally materialize into full seasonal fruition. It probably didn’t hurt that popular councilman Jose Huizar fully supported the project since the beginning.

The market is still in its infant stage, with maybe a little less than 10 booths to cater to quality-product-hungry boyle heightarians, but it will only grow as it gets more known. Just today I saw that Antojitos Carmen will now have a booth there (via their active twitter account). So at least you know that you won’t go hungry for Mexico City style antojitos.

Amongst booths that caught my ojos golozos was one that sold Middle Eastern spreads and fresh flatbreads, another with an old man who sold ice cold shrimp cocktails from an ice cooler, a cupcake booth, and a specialized coffee one, courtesy of Primera Taza. Of course, the standard fruit and veggies booths need not be mentioned since well, a farmers market just wouldn’t be one without them! And lastly, there is a taco truck. How could a Boyle Heights farmers market be complete without one?

There were also a number of non-food booths that caught my attention. Some that sold artisan jewelry, clothes and handicrafts and another one that lent out books. Libros Shmibros is the project of David Kipen, owner of a small non-corporate bookstore in BH (yes…believe it or not, there is another BH in town) across the street from Corazon Del Pueblo. When I asked Kipen about how he thought up of Shmibros, he replied with “Well, I don’t know whether to be sad or happy but a lot of people give me their books.” The rest is just history, literally.

There are high plans for this market. Romero tells me of things to come such as movie night’s where they will project classic movies on to a wall and Lucha Libre!!! And live music is already in full effect every Friday, as well as weekly resident DJ’s.

Boyle Heights…why not?

Boyle Heights Farmers Market
Mariachi Plaza
Fridays 3-8 PM
Puro Pari

My middle school homies band, The Shagrats will be playing tomorrow for free at 7 PM. Yes, this is the same band that played at my infamous 21st Birthday gig where I cracked my head last year.

These guys broke out of the stereotypical power-chord punk rock rut and have developed a mellow, groovy, bluezy beat of their own so come by and dance a little!

Judging At The 2010 Los Angeles Vendy Awards

line 'em up
Line “Em Up!

Last Saturday marked the battle of the greasiest, as both worlds of L.A street food duked it out for the title of the first annual Los Angeles Vendy Awards. The coveted event has become a cult favorite in the East Coast, where more than 660 New Yorkers gathered for it last year to eat street foods of all kinds.

The event was held in the nicas (and day street food) capital of Los Angeles: Macarthur Park. And I could not had thought of a better place.

vendy front

It was to be The Grilled Cheese Truck, India Jones Truck, The Hot Dog Kings, Ninas Food, Bigmista’s Barbecue and Tacos El Galuzo Truck duking it out for the Vendy Gold.

grilled cheez duo
Grilled Cheese Truck: Keepin’ It Cheezay

delectable franky and paratha
India Jones: Representin’ That Indian Spice And Swoon

The Hot Dog King
Hot Dog Kings: Bacon Wrapped And Guacamole Topped…Ayy Guey!

ninas pambazitos
Nina’s Food: Griddling Up D.F Deliciuosness

big mistas bbq
Bigmistas Barbecue: Smokin’ Up A Little Somethin’, Somethin’

bland ass tacos
Tacos El Galuzo: Taco’s Are A Way Of Life

I was lucky enough to be among the few judges at this historic event, along with Street Gourmet L.A, John Shook and Vinny Dotolo of Animal Restaurant and the one and only Evan Kleiman of Good Food. Along with the smoooooth Emceeing of Jeff Miller of Thrillist.

bill, john and jeff working hard

But it was one taste that prevailed amongst all of us: Nina’s Quesadillas and Pambasos. It was an instant unanimous decision.

judging sheets
No Need For Judging Sheets

nina this ones for ya
Nina, This One’s For You!

Inner City Bites: A Couple Of Food Reviews From Roosevelt High School Students

roughrider emblem
Roughriders!: Arch Enemies Of My Bulldog Blood But They Write Food!

A while back, I was privileged enough to be asked to be a guest speaker in Mr. Gertner’s journalism class in Roosevelt High School. I talked about blogging and its significance in contemporary media…and or course food blogging!

I must of rubbed off on them!

Here is an awesome review of Mariscos El Jato in Boyle Heights by Norma Briseno and Elizabeth Bolanos

Eat At Mariscos El Jato Today!

If you love fresh seafood, look no further because Mariscos El Jato is the place for you! Before coming to the United States, owner “El Jato” sold shrimp tacos in Mexico. When he finally came to the U.S in 1980, he began to sell his famous shrimp tacos from home to home in the community. After a short time, people began to recommend him and by 1996 he was selling his food from a vending truck he purchased. After opening his restaurant approximately nine years ago, the place continues to draw a crowd.
Located on the corner of 4th and Evergreen, this restaurant has been serving the Boyle Heights community and because their food is simply delicious, their cliental ranges from locals to hipsters.

Because the restaurant uses fresh ingredients, they are able to price the food at remarkably low prices. Not only are the prices good, but the family-friendly atmoshphere allows you to feel like if you were at your grandmother’s house in Mexico. The restaurant has brightly, painted colored walls in colors such as orange and lime, and Aztec calendars are also mounted on the walls. Not to mention that a display of the Virgin de Guadalupe occupies a window still. In addition, soccer jerseys hang from the walls, making it pretty evident that ownder “El Jato” is a Chivas fan.


Recently the restaurant added oysters to their menu, but they are most famous for their shrimp tacos. The shrimp tacos are only a dollar each. Nothing can really compare to devouring a juicy shrimp taco after a long day. When you bite into the crunchy tortilla that tightly hugs the soft, juicy shrimp, you would probably think you were sitting alongside a beach. If you really want to send your taste buds on a ride, then add sour cream, avocado, or squirts of lemon juice. This savory meat of the sea goes down great with a cool, refreshing soda.

However, if shrimp tacos don’t seem to interest you, then definately try their fish tacos. For $3.75, you receive a huge amount of breaded fish served on two tortillas. The breading doesn’t overpower the taste of the fresh fish at all, and the fish remains moist and flaky. To be honest, the taco can probably serve two people so if you happen to eat your two warm tortillas and find yourself having leftover fish on your plate, feel free to ask the friendly waitresses for more tortillas, which come free of charge.
Not only does the resturant serve tacos, but their menu also includes tostadas de camaron, coctel de camaron, and fried shrimp. For $1.50 each, you can also feast on tostadas de ceviche. All of the tostadas are home-made.

The restaurant has authentic Coke bottles from Mexico, as well as Jarritos. All of their beverages are two dollars. And although the resturant does not sell beer, some customers tend to bring their own.

Overall, this small restaurant serves great tasting food at very low prices. Mariscos El Jato is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 6p.m., but the place is usually packed with customers on Saturdays and Sundays so if you are tempted to try the food, it is suggested to come during the week. If you happen to run late, fear not! Just because the restaurant is closed, it does not mean that you can’t enjoy the food. “El Jato” sells his famous tacos from his vendor truck on the corner of Ferris and Olympic. So what are you waiting for? Visit Mariscos El Jato today!

For more reviews, including one on The Pantry Cafe check out the High School Paper.

The Rough Rider (Roosevelt Adult High School Newspaper)

…aww, reminds me when I was a wee little food writer, he he.

Hoping at LA Parrilla, Fetish Eating under British Rule and Indian Street Foods in L.A: Just Another Glutster Weekend

Day 1 (Friday): Dinner at La Parrilla

My yoga gurus had invited me to their infatuating daughter’s graduation dinner, don’t know if it was because of her actual request but…one could dream. She chose La Parrilla in my neighboring Boyle Heights of all places (Peruvian-German Family living in S.G.V?).

Obviously, like everyone else knows, going out for food that you grew up on is not going be quite like “mom’s” cooking. It will be good, but everything just has that trademark subtle, stale grease “restaurant flavor” that I always pick up, no matter where , its not too bad, just…there. Nonetheless, I wouldn’t mind recommending this place when asked that ubiquitous “where do you go for Mexican” question though. Can’t go wrong with their veggie butter known as Guacamole, since it is of the safe, non-offending kind (highest-fat Hass avocado’s, tiny, super-fine palatable minced onion, generously seasoned). Going by the restaurants name (“the grill”), I chose their Molcajete Mary Carmen , a bunch of grilled things tossed together in the infamous Mexican lava rock tool: fresh-shucked scallops, lobster, shrimp, cactus paddles, green onions, oozy Panela cheese–all swimming in this boiling chile broth. I forced myself to share it though, since it cost $40 and well, I didn’t want to scare them by being “that one guy” at the dinner.

La Parrilla
2126 E Cesar E Chavez Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90033
(323) 262-3434

Day 2 (Saturday): Deep End Dining under British Rule

After driving all the way to the northern outskirts of Glendale, in the wee A.M hours, to get some sort of Truffle Infused ________ and whatever other one dish wonders at this 50-75% off sale at Ingredients Gourmet Market, only to find out that it was canceled because somebody had bought the whole remaining inventory earlier, I mustered the courage to show up at the Deep End Dining house for my call of duty. The Man Eddie Lin invited me to participate in this “weird food show feast filmed by some British network”. “Weird Food” was an understatement, these people were filming for a special called “7 Deadly Sins”…you can only imagine.

Gluttony would of been o.k, but they were portraying us (the few, the proud, the fearless: Rameniac, Oishiieats, Eatdrinknbemarry) like some sort of fetish freaks who ate everything while it was still live and kicking, dwelling deep into the psyche of our “pleasures of eating things that were still crawling down our throats”.

Disappointed, but like someone pointed out, “any press, is good press”. So, after trying to ingest some unborn duck fetuses (Vietnamese Delicacy known as Balut) and imagining the amniotic liquid to be a just really rich duck broth, chewing on the flesh of a lobster while it was still looking at me eat it, and dismembering shrimp that were “wasted”–or marinated–in rice wine (“Lobster Sashimi off the menu” and “Drunken Shrimp”; not like the Seafood Village I remember)

By the end of the day, we were tired, exhausted and in desperate need of real food, substantial, normal food…not food that will get ratings. So, after our last tender-crisp ligament of “live” eel at The Hump, something needed to be done. 5-6 Chef Sashimi Plates, several pieces of Seared Toro topped with house made ponzu, shaved truffle, pickled Japaneses radish, and 24 KARAT GOLD SHAVINGS, and a large order of Kobe Beef later…maybe the day wasn’t so bad after all. I don’t know if I can say the same for the producers though (estimated meal cost +$1,500!).

Like another fellow blogger pointed out, “you do not leave a bunch of hungry foodies with an open bill”…

C&C Express (C&C Food Co.) (Balut
9200 Bolsa Ave. #308
Westminster, CA 92683

Seafood Village (Live Lobster Sashimi and Drunken Shrimp)
1463 Nogales St
Rowland Heights, CA 91748
(626) 913-2338

The Hump (Live Eel, everything else)
3rd Floor
3221 Donald Douglas Loop S,
Santa Monica, CA 90405

Day 3 (Sunday): Mumbai Street Food Brunch

One day I’ll actually go to Mumbai and eat their famed street foods, until that magnificent day comes though, I will have to settle with this though. Flavor of India was having this special fundraiser brunch for Mumbai featuring a couple of their infamous urban delectables.

Crispy, saggy, sweet, spicy, salty, starchy, pungent Bel Puri’s rice that is puffed up in India’s sweltering sands. Burrito-like Lamb Franky’s with a thick pancake like roti whose chewiness is provided by its yogurt+milk+flour base, bartha (eggplant) done in the street, convenient style of roasting it, slicing it, and used as a carrier for 3-4 different chutneys and yogurt.

The Sam?dhi inducing experience though was eating two scoops of Nemo’s Saffron Silk exotic ice cream from Saffron Spot in Artesia, homemade thick, Indian cream tinted neon orange by the saffron and rose water used to flavor it.


Flavor of India (food)
9045 Santa Monica Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90069

Saffron Spot (exotic ice cream)
18744 Pioneer Boulevard
Artesia, CA 90701

Traditional Latino Flavors with A Contemporary Twist”? And in the 'hood?: Homegirl Cafe

Going out for Mexican Food is something that i usually frown upon, it kind of goes against the reason for me going out in the first place (to eat something different that i haven’t been eating all my life) I know Mexican Cuisine is extremely diverse and don’t get me wrong, i still love a Good Plate of Mole and find myself eating a bowl of Legumes with Tortillas as a Main Course often but…i don’t know.

If you guys don’t know, HomeBoy Ind. is a non-profit program for those who wanted something different than the usual “A foo, where you from?!” life. This was one of their projects, highering former “chola’s” to be exposed to something different. It wasn’t until recently that i decided to make it a goal to eat here after a friend told me about her Jalapeno Pesto Tofu Torta and her drink, some lemonade blended with Mint and Spinach that i concluded, this was no typical Mexican Place.

You can’t miss it, a Huge colorful Mural in the front depicting the writers skills. Good, Alright, Gabachos were eating here, that told me something. I was kind of turned off by seeing a huge bag of Mission Tortiila Chips being emptied out into little half-cut sandwich bags, but quickly changed when i dunked the sad little chips into this plastic cup of chile that came with them. Some warm, creamy chipotle sauce sans any actual cream or dairy. A good start.

Like i said, i love a plate of Mole as much as the next “Mexican-American” so i decided to try their tofu-swapped version, claiming to be “a homeboy favorite”. It was alright, lighter than my moms and neighbors deep, thick brew and toned way, way down-probably to suit unsuspecting Gabacho palettes. Not as good as my mom’s but…heh. I don’t know why almost all Mexican Restaurants tend those slightly warm, soggy “Guerrero” Tortillas though. The small caraffe filled with their House Dressing was pretty good though. Almost like pure orange juice and goes perfect with their Julienned Jicama, Mango and Pepita House Salad that it came with.

My dad’s Panela Sandwich truly showcased their light, fresh approach to their food: Milky Panela Cheese, Romaine lettuce, Ripe Tomato, Crisp Jicama, and sweet Mango and some of that errant Jalapeno Pesto (Jalapeno, Pepitas, Cilantro?)

Don’t be surprised if the Waitresses give you a little attitude though, they’re just being friendly. And that free refill on that Green Potion will make you forget all about it.

Homegirl Cafe
1818 E. First Street
Los Angeles, CA 90033
(323) 268-9353
(323) 265-3595 fax

Alright, Alright…(El Tepeyac: Boyle Heights)

I’m still in a tight schedule but i just had to mention this.

I finally went to El Tepeyac yesterday with my mom (you would think after living in East L.A for over over 10 years, i would of at least know all the local gems, huh?).
Long story short, this is probably the exception I’ll make when it comes to Mexican restaurants. I don’t think it could get any more comfort than this. Almost-like-moms food, extremely generous portions and amiable waitresses that i would confuse for my own family members. I felt some sort of soothing and safe feeling there, like if i was at home. If only the food didn’t have that signature “Mexican Resturant Flavor” that I notice almost every where I go, don’t know how to put it, its this slightly stale grease flavor, its not totally offending but…it would be nicer without it.

Oh yeah, and I just want to say,

I could of finished The “Manuel Special” but i wanted my dad to see.

El Tepeyac Cafe
812 N Evergreen Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90033
(323) 267-8668