TEAM TACO: BEST HIDDEN GEMS IN LA

So, it’s the Teamwork Issue, and we could have bored you with pairings. But then we thought, “Hey—it’s summer, summer in LA!” and realized it would be sacrilegious to deliver anything other than a taco roundup. A matter of civic pride and a de facto dietary staple, tacos are a cross-genre crowd-pleaser, gutturally satisfying to every Angeleno. It wasn’t easy, but we powered down our user-friendly, fascist laptops a little early and did a little research. Someone had to.

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EAST LA | TACOS BAJA ENSENADA


You either frequent this spot on Whittier Blvd. or have been planning to. Tacos Baja Ensenada has a well-deserved rep for having the town’s best fish and beer-battered shrimp tacos. There’s a consistent line out the door, but worth the wait.

WHAT TO GET: Fresh and festive, cop the Fish Taco and top it with “chiles gueros,” seasoned roasted yellow peppers from the bar. Be advised—everything here is seafood, and they’re not stingy with the salsa. And when the festivities of Taco Tuesdays come to a close, don’t be discouraged—Baja Ensenada offers $1 fish tacos on Wednesdays too.

 

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MID-CITY | LEO’S TACO TRUCK


Leo’s Taco Truck is marvelously stationed on Venice Blvd. and La Brea Ave., adjacent to a 76 gas station—fill up your tank and your stomach in just one stop. The business is in operation seven days a week, from T-shirt time until 3 AM during the week and 4 AM on weekends.

WHAT TO GET: Like any self-respecting taco truck, Leo’s is cash only, folks. Priced at just $1, the Al Pastor is their most popular item, kept moist with sliced pineapple and a subtle hint of spice. Leo’s also boasts a full condiment bar, but chances are you probably wont even need it.

 

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DOWNTOWN | MARISCOS JALISCO


Meandering around the Fashion District getting you hangry? The big white truck with blue and red letters spelling “Mariscos Jalisco” can be spotted even without your Oliver Peoples Warby Parkers. Just bordering Boyle Heights, Mariscos Jaliscos proudly serves up some of the city’s most savory, hearty, seafood tacos.

WHAT TO GET: The taco de camaron is a seafood enthusiast’s dream come true, filled with fried shrimp and spicy sauce, fried again, and topped with avocado and even more red sauce. Oysters and octopus are also on the menu, in a cocktail or on a tostada. Make it a threesome—you can have whatever you liiiiiiike. 

 

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EAST LA | LOS CINCO PUNTOS

Carnitas for the count! This eastside gem is a neighborhood grocer, a local lunch haunt, and a cheap dinner pick-up all rolled into one. You might want to wear stretchy pants; portions here are as big as the taste. Extra points for the hand-made tortillas (we watched). Get there early, these guys close at 6pm.

WHAT TO GET: Los Cinco Puntos gives you your choice of cut by the pound. You might also want to grab a burrito, quesadilla, or taco instead to fill their homemade tortillas, and garnish it with pickled nopales and an awesome red salsa. Or, you can live a little. One word: chicharones. 

 

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BOYLE HEIGHTS | GUISADOS


At Guisados, it’s all about the meat. Well, it’s also about their grilled vegetables and freshly patted, corn tortillas too. You might discover a thin slice of avocado, a few pickled spicy onions, but that’s pretty much it. These guys let the quality of their ingredients speak for themselves. Parking struggles keeping you away? Fear not—a second location in Echo Park should quell those hunger pangs, and there’s a 3rd under construction in DTLA.

WHAT TO GET: Our vote goes to the sampler plate. Made with six mini-tacos, each one is filled with a savory meat or vegetable, surrounded by one of their famous handmade tortillas.

 

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ECHO PARK | BELLEVUE STEAKHOUSE


La Movidita, affectionately dubbed The Bellevue Steakhouse by locals, almost didn’t make our list. You see, this place is such a gem that we were reluctant to give it away. But alas, your gain is our crux—the woes of journalism be damned. Initially a taco stand on Bellevue Ave., this taco purveyor has since moved to a dimly lit garage farther up the street (ask a local). Get your asada fix Thursday through Sunday evenings, rain or shine.

WHAT TO GET: The real claim to fame is the suadero taco. At just $1.25, this taco is meaty, rich, and absolutely delicious. Top it off with one of four (or go big and try ‘em all) of their salsa offerings, or some pickled onions and chopped habaneros.

Model Behavior with Leila Goldkuhl

You may recognize Leila Goldkuhl. With notable campaigns with Mink Pink, Urban Outfitters, and BCBG under her belt, the former 3rd place contestant of America’s Next Top Model (cycle 19) is now living in LA and signed with NEXT Model Management.

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The Massachusetts native grew up playing sports and was initially hesitant to enter the modeling world. But with a little success and a few trips around the globe later—she’s since changed her tune. Our gal, Hillary Comstock sat down with the 5’11 beauty to talk travel, competition, and marine biology.

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photography LOTUS JOSEPHINE
hair + makeup BRITTANY SULLIVAN
styling + interview HILLARY COMSTOCK

CATCH THE INTERVIEW IN OUR E-ISSUE HERE

M+B: DIVIDE & CONQUER

M+B EMBRACES A NEW CHAPTER IN
THEIR CONTEMPORARY ART PROGRAM

It should come as no surprise that LAC shares a breath of the same artists as M+B. The gallery has remained a steady fixture on our radar, nurturing some of the most enticing new artists right here in our very own backyard. From our past features like Matthew Brandt, Hannah Whitaker, and Mona Kuhn, we’ve been pillaging (or rather, graciously and inspiringly appropriating) the M+B arsenal for a cool minute now. Can you blame us?

We were first introduced to M+B long ago when a collection of Andrew Bush’s “Vector Portraits” surfaced for what became one of our favorite exhibitions yet. Bush’s voyeuristic, large-scale photographs of man and his automobile were beautiful, humorous, and poignant, and fueled our curiosity about M+B as a whole. So when the opportunity arose to get up close and personal with the team behind the magic, we pounced.

M+B sits between Melrose Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard, in what appears to be a quaint and picturesque bungalow home. Beyond the front cottage with charming French doors, in a second (and equally inviting) space, lies the nucleus of the gallery, its traditional white walls and track lighting nestled within the ivy-coated driveway.

We sneak a walk-through of the property before Alexandra Wetzel, M+B’s Assistant Director, greets us. “It’s the perfect example of an indoor/outdoor California space,” she smiles. Indeed, the space is relaxing and comfortable, with a grateful lack of somber stuffiness or pretension. Through a mutual love for photography and general aversion for Pilates Plus (can you slow it down just a little?), Alexandra takes us through the gallery’s inception, its artists, and its evolution.

We bring on new artists when we see something amazing—an idea, perspective, or aesthetic that is unique and relevant to our time. Something we haven’t yet seen before.

At the helm of the gallery is Benjamin Trigano, who founded M+B in 2008 out of a deep passion for photography. Together with his team, M+B has spent its formidable years cultivating a roster of artistic mastery, not to mention developing a reputation for signing on undiscovered talent. “We bring on new artists when we see something amazing—an idea, perspective, or aesthetic that is unique and relevant to our time. Something we haven’t yet seen before,” Wetzel tells us. “LA is blessed with three of the country’s best MFA programs: USC, UCLA and CalArts. The number of artists moving to LA is greater than it ever has been.”

Recently, the M+B program, which has maintained a long-standing foundation in photography, has broken its own mold, transitioning into a wider understanding of the medium. The gallery announced its two-program split—with M+B, their newer, contemporary focus, and M+B Photo, their existing program that remains true to their photographic roots. “Almost all of the artists that we’ve shown in the past few years are contemporary artists. They don’t see themselves as photographers or particularly tied to that medium,” Wetzel explains. The need for the two programs became an obvious trajectory, with its former approach transcending its own limits of photo-based practices.

“This result was really about the artists and the work,” Wetzel imparts. “By always riding the edge and constantly pushing boundaries, the program reached a point where there were two different focuses and it was time to make that distinction.”

Now, with both M+B and M+B Photo under their belt, the programming is really taking off, shedding their more established ties to the lens in favor of prompting a new dialogue on the consumption of art in the digital age. So what’s on deck for the gallery? Soft Target, an ambitious group show curated by M+B artists Phil Chang and Matthew Porter and featuring a parade of artistic talent will be taking over the gallery until the end of August. Additionally, a stunning new body of work from Jessica Eaton is set to take shape (“It’s her first time working with
carbon printing,” Wetzel declares), and Mariah Robertson, one of the latest additions to the M+B roster, will have her west coast debut solo show in the spring of 2015.

We want to do something different and create a destination…where you can feel comfortable asking questions.

Evidently, this new chapter is slowly and steadily growing, filling the page with freshly innovative processes of artistic production—one that lies beyond the bounds of a once “traditional” medium. “We want to do something different,” Wetzel affirms, “and create a destination…where you can feel comfortable asking questions.”

photos + text RACHEL MANY

Q&A: APHIDOIDEA COLLECTIVE

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If you havent heard of the name Aphidoidea, chances are you’ve likely seen some of their work. Born out of Los Angeles’ downtown arts district, the self-proclaimed “open collaborative think tank of design” has created some of the most stunning environmental and visual art installations to grace the best coast. The collective is the brains behind this past Coachella’s ‘Through the Cattails’ massive illuminated light sculpture, Burning Man’s ‘Crystalline Centrum’, and a long list of equally inventive and all-around awe-inspiring architectural installations. Next project on their list? Sitting down with the LAC team and entertaining our seriously ridiculous questions.

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So, what’s up? Nothing much, just prepping for a long year of work.

Can we get you something to drink? Sure, a redeye with a side of expresso.

Aphidoidea? What’s up with the name? We work collectively like a colony, plus we love tomatoes and hate ladybugs.

Coachella or Burning Man? A walk in the park or sand in everything? At least at Burningman you don’t get any tanlines. If you know what I mean…

Rock, paper, or scissors? Rock beats everything, whoever tells you otherwise if full of shit.

Do anything last night? Coming up with drawings for a piece we are submitting, exciting stuff.

How late did you stay up? Usually as late as it takes, but last night it was probably around 3ish. Long nights are part of the game.

Meals or snacks? Meals. AYCE KBBQ.

Your craziest installation to date? Burning Man 2012 had some of the harshest weather and dust storms, it was lovingly referred by some as Burnapocalypse 2012. So, being in the middle of the Playa in a whiteout trying to hold up our project from the winds was pretty crazy.

Who would you invite to your fantasy gallery opening? Jabba the Hutt, as long as we don’t get thrown in the rancor pit.

If life could resemble any film… It would be PRIMER meets BRAZIL meets JURASSIC PARK meets THE NOTEBOOK meets GREASE ends with HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN.

Who would you commission to create your portrait? Any one of those caricature portrait artists on the Santa Monica Pier. Gotta support the budding artists.

Your favorite hiding spot in LA? A long night at King Eddie’s Saloon followed by post last-call Chinese at Won-Kok in Chinatown.

Blue or black ink? Black, darker the ink, the deeper the hue…

An art project you most regret? We got stranded in the middle of the Yuma desert at night on some sand dunes for a lame independent movie prop. We ended up having to get picked up by a relative who lived in Calexico. Never a dull day.

Ever sit down in the shower? No, but now that you mention it, it actually sounds kind of cool. I guess it’s like taking a bath without brewing in your own dirty stew.

When was the last time you really froke out at someone? WTF is froke! Froke you! Lol. No, seriously, WTF is froke.

What was the first thing you said aloud this morning?  Coffee. Now.

Are you listening to music right now? Whatever Pandora thinks I like at the moment.

Your dream project? Anti-gravity museum.

If we gave you $50, what would you buy? With 5 of us @ $10 bucks each we would get the following: Cocoa Krispies & milk, beach ball & Tapatio hot sauce, a case of Monster energy drinks, a six-pack, and a bottle of cake flavored vodka.

Last 3 google searches? 16 gauge shear press nibbler, Camp Bisco, Froke.

Where can we catch your next installation? On the beach at Santa Monica’s GLOW event in September.

What are you doing later? Working on a scale model for a public art project in Colorado.

Can we come? Don’t know, do you get your hands dirty?

See all of Aphidoidea’s latest work here

21 QUESTIONS: PAIGE SMITH

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Street artist, graphic designer, and all things in between, Paige Smith has been busy beautifying dingy corners and dilapidated sidewalks with her “Geodes” project. Since its conception in 2011, her geodes have traveled the world, popping up in the strangest of places. (LAC writer Ross Gardiner just stashed some in his suitcase en route to his hometown of Ballachulish, Scotland. Ever heard of it? Neither had we. Where on earth do we find these characters?)

We sat down with Smith to pick her brain and find out what she’s up to next. (for a more in depth look into Smith’s work, be sure to check out her artist feature in our newest issue here)

 

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So, what’s up?

Busy making glittering minerals before my trip to Bali this month.

Can we get you something to drink?

Whisky please.

Do anything last night?

I saw my long lost sister who lives in Australia and wrestles koalas and we got drunk. True story.

How late did you stay up?

I hit the pillow at 4am.

Meals or snacks?

Meals, I really like to eat a lot in one sitting.

Ever gotten caught installing your Geodes?

Not yet. The only person that’s ever asked what I was doing was a homeless woman who stuck to that spot and told everyone that passed by not to touch it.

Where’s the farthest place your Geodes have travelled?

There are some in Amman, Jordan, but a box is on its way to Johannesburg right now.

Who would you invite to your fantasy gallery opening?

Walter Murch

If life could resemble any film…

The Goonies

Who would you commission to create your portrait?

Chuck Close

Your favorite city spot you installed a collection of geodes?

My kind friend that owns the Daily Dose in DTLA keeps letting me install them. I’ve done some great experimenting there.

Blue or black ink?

I don’t care; it really depends on how nicely the pen writes.

An art project/idea you most regret?

I spent a year and months attempting to create an installation that never ever worked. I finally let it go, but it was an awesome lesson.

Ever sit down in the shower?

When I’m hungover.

What was the first thing you said aloud this morning?

I’m hungover…

Are you listening to music right now?

I have “Everything Everything” and “Mother Mother”, on repeat.

Will you text the person you like today?

I do every day. He really can’t shake me.

If we gave you $50, what would you buy?

I’d buy something shiny; probably gold paint.

Last 3 google searches?

Wilson Phillips, Garbage Pail Kids Paige, The Mighty Boosh

What are you doing later?

I’m going to eat cookies on my couch.

Can we come?

Please do, will you bring me cookies?

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Learn more about Paige Smith here: http://acommonname.com/