Day and Night

Here we see a Lincoln Heights street corner during the day, an average mini-market with the usual fare  and the occassional pedestrian stopping in to pick up some snacks. Click ahead to see what happens to this sleepy corner at night!

Once the sun starts to set food vendors set up shop and transform this little spot into a bustling corner of commerce and taco consumption. In just a few short weeks, they have built up a steady clientele and even some lines. This might be an example of Latino Urbanism but it’s also a very rational way to make ends meet, though I imagine this kind of impromptu street kitchen might not go over very well in non-Latino neighborhoods.  I’ve been noticing many more of these sidewalk and frontyard food stalls around the neighborhood, maybe they’re a hint that La Crisis is going to be a much more significant storm than we were expecting.

Since some of these food spots are extra-legal, those that run them are a bit wary of fools taking pictures of them: I got chased down by two cars and had to explain my motives for taking the pictures above twice. I think they thought I was a health-department or annoying-neighbor rat instead of someone that values their presence. Maybe I should have pretended to not speak Spanish…

18 thoughts on “Day and Night

  1. They refused to serve me. Are my dollars less green? I even translated for the guy to for the owners of the cornerstore for him and still I can’t buy a taco.

    First rule of immigration; a dollar is dollar, no matter whom it comes from.

  2. Salty,
    That’s crazy, what happened? Maybe these taqueros are super paranoid, but that still doesn’t excuse not serving someone.

  3. I translated for the owner of the taco stand to the store owner and helped them resolve their power bill, yet the next time I show up wanting a taco the guy can’t look at me. Sure, I’m white but wtf? I left in disgust, I’m sure his tacos rock but I don’t care. He’ll be out of the neighborhood before I am.

    Not sure he recognized me but how many other gueros are walking around Pasadena Ave? I’m not asking for love but a simple taco would be nice.

    mmm… Tacos…

  4. Salty, if this guy starts pulling that kind of shit then I would suggest by all means making a complaint and shutting his ass down. Hey it’s a dog eat dog world right now and there is somebody else ready to take this guys corner de voladas, and be more respectful besides.
    F””K Him!

    I agree with Chavo that with the economic situation looking as grim as it is, maybe we should all learn some hustle and be ready to make some lana in the underground economy. In fact I think that after the fiasco of the right wing and their failed “supply side, trickle down theory of economics”, the country should try something else, namely deregulate small business’s and street hustles, a trickle up theory of economics from the infantry of workers at the bottom of the pyramid, paraphrasing FDR during the great depression of the thirty’s.
    Allow small business’s to operate without all the bullshit that has been put in place to hinder free enterprise like ridiculous fees for insurance, permits, licensing, ect ect. Maybe just a small business permit involved.
    Matter of fact I was thinking about how good and cheap the bags of fruit are from the Frutero on Ave 64 and York in HP. With a little cart, fruit, sal, chile, limon, the fruit of course, and some plastic baggies and a sharp knife, a person could make a good living in the right spot.
    Hmmmm!

  5. Salty, I’m sorry to hear about you getting denied like that. So wierd.

    I hope you don’t get them shut down, because this cart has some good eats. There is a big bald man who takes your order and grills the meat. He says everything in a sing-song rhyme in spanish, “Dos de asada, mejor que nada.” And usually by the time he’s done with his song the tacos are neatly packed onto a paper plate with a roasted onion and chile in the middle.

    The Korean guys that run the liquor store get a lot of foot traffic in the evenings, and they told me they feel safer.

    The little triangle of real estate between Workman and Pasadena really could be much more than a gateway to Broadway, but I guess that is a discussion best left for another day.

  6. Wow, Salty that sucks! What did they say to you exactly? Do you think it could have been some misunderstanding? Those folks DO seem paranoid though, chasing down El Chavo just for taking photos. I think Vidalia took a couple of photos too, wondered if she got the same treatment:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/vidalia/2917211525/
    Oh well, Lencho’s down the street just opened up and you can always get your tacos from them. They seem to be a happier bunch.

  7. Oh by the way, the correct way to pronounce that liquor store’s name is JU-WANS. It’s a long time LH tradition. Although, someone did recently say the Korean pronunciation might be more applicable: JOO-AHNS.

  8. Chimatli-

    Actually they didn’t say anything, or even look at me. Maybe they didn’t know I can speak Spanish? Thought I was La Migra? I don’t get it either. After 5 minutes of standing there feeling like an asshole watching other people get served before me, I just left. Never to return. I doubt they care, they seem to have plenty of business without me.

    True, Lencho’s is open but who knows for how long. They do seem eager for cash regardless of the wallet it comes from, so if I need to get my taco on, I guess I’ll go there.

  9. Re: The case of non-service for Salty at Taco Stand.
    Just to throw alternate theories out here, (I could be completely wrong, but I tend to over-analyze things) I’ve been to this place myself a few times and I noticed that they had kind of a weird way of doing things. They take a person’s order and prepare it, serve it, charge, then clean up the grill before they even take someone else’s order.
    In other words, they don’t multi-task at this place like were accustomed to seeing at other joints. Even though there’s at least a couple of guys working there, this is the way I’ve observed their system to work. I’ve stood in front of the table for several minutes before the one guy even asked: “Que le damos?” My first time
    there, they finally took my order mere seconds before I was about to say F-this and walk away. Anyway, another theory is that many times you’ll find some Spanish speaking individuals out there who may not feel 100% confident with their English skills. Sometimes they’re a little hesitant to engage someone who they feel may be an “English-only” type. (On the flip side to that, many people here have no problem at all trying with various degrees of success, to communicate with each other, particularly in commerce. Both parties have what the other wants!) I’m not saying here that it’s not possible that they were trying to be deliberate Jerks to Salty, but
    it just seems so uncommon and unusual for that to happen. I takes a planned, concerted effort to pull that kind of dumb shit off and also they’d have to consider the risk of confrontational scenes and the possible attention it would bring. If those guys are working under the radar at any level, it just doesn’t seem likely to me that they’d have the inclination to pull off some racial-based exclusionary policy. I guess I wish there could be some more digging into what was in their heads before dropping the race hammer. But, I think we can agree on ONE thing though: Bad Service, is Bad Service!

  10. Salty all I have to say is that sucks tacos !!! I myself have never gotten that kind of treatment at a taco stand, but if I did I would tell them something. That or i would yell out that the guy handling your food just went to the bathroom and didn’t wash his hands. Don’t let this single experience sour your taste for taco stand tacos. Just the other day on my home I stopped by a taco stand in front of a store. I ordered more than i could afford and the guys at the stand let me get off the hook and let me pay them back in full the next day. In fact that was a couple of days ago so i really need to go see those guys and pay them their two dollars.

  11. Salty, I think El Random Hero, using his obvious judicious and fair sense of logic may have your answer as to why you were not served. I on the other hand tend to rely on emotions, and like the old Duke Ellington Song
    “I got it bad, and that ain’t good”.
    There could be some ulterior motive as to why you weren’t served, maybe the guy was afraid of you due you being a gavacho and he may have thought you were some kind of authority? Maybe he was out of food and too embarrassed to say so? There are places (Seafood Outlet, Downtown) that are so busy that if you hesitate to long they go to the next customer in line.
    I don’t know Salty but you might want to give it one more try and be assertive and speak up loudly if need be.
    I personally would appreciate a report on the real lowdown there.
    Hey one more thing, be careful while standing at that spot because when I was a youngster there used to be a “Richfield” gas station there and one night some drunk truck driver ran his Semi right through there and flattened the bldg like a tortilla. They rebuilt it and within a year someone else who was drunk or confused ( Workman St. or Pasadena Ave? Oh well I’ll just go down the middle), flattened it again.
    It’s a target, cuidado!

  12. In the end, it’s only tacos.

    True, I know LA’s finest culinary offering is the humble (but tasty!) taco, but unless they are OMFGBESTACOEVAR!! I’m not going to spend my time worrying about it. Al might be right, missed connection, took too long. Either way, no me importa.

    Anyhow, I love my little slice of LH and unless they are selling crack in those tacos they are just as welcome as anyone else to be selling them here. The more the merrier, in my mind. But if they are, I might ask you to buy me some 😉

    What I want to know is are the tamales any good at that place at 34th and Pasadena? I used to work at Mama’s in MacArthur Park, and I think I should know the difference, but I’ve never been. Anyone?

  13. I had a feeling they might flip if I took photos of their stand, so I stood across the street and waited til they weren’t looking in order to get a shot. I then walked up and waited almost 20 minutes for tacos. (They do have a weird way of cooking and taking your order).

    I noticed that they would stop in the middle of an order and cook up more of several kinds of meat, then continue with some large order (12 or 14 tacos), then some old lady would wander up and scream out an order without standing in line and they would make her tacos and hand them to her, then continue with the large order, cook more meat… it is a wonder they get through the line at all.

    Plenty of people were willing to wait without complaint, and I was really interested in watching the way they cooked tripa, cabeza, lengua and all the other kind of tacos i won’t eat.

    I had breakfast at Lenchos and it’s GOOD. I’d try their tacos too. The guy that owns the place is super nice. Diego’s tacos are horrible, but i’m willing to try them again on a night where I evaluate all 3.

    I really don’t think you not getting a taco has anything to do with race. When I was in line a white couple and 3 Japanese kids got tacos. Yes… they were Japanese and not Korean or Chinese… and they had expensive gear on too.

  14. Yeah-I’ve noticed at a few places that the “loud & pushy bird gets the worm”, oh well-whatever…..
    Also, I’m reading good things about Lencho’s. May be checking it out soon.

  15. I had chilaquiles at Lencho’s when the Mexican cook was there and they were very good! I went back yesterday and the super nice owner made them. Unfortunately, they weren’t so great and worse, they served them on Styrofoam plates with plastic forks and knives. It takes away from the food. I hope it’s just a one time thing.
    As for pasadena ave tamales, they were okay but not so great. I admit though, I’m pretty picky about tamales. Most restaurant tamales are too fluffy, lardy and skimp on the fillings. That’s why today I’m making my own!

  16. When that taco truck ban went into effect, it seemed like three cart and table operations started up for every truck that was off the streets. So much for whatever Molina’s goal was. If anything, the health risks increased, the competition increased, and, since I’ve seen some of the operations using charcoal, the fire risk has increased significantly. Now the inspected-and-legal tracks have competition from these new startups.

    One other thing – I’ve seen at least one meat griller advertising Korean BBQ and kebab alongside the tacos. If it catches on, the Koreans, Armenians, Arabs, and Israelis will be setting up on the streets too.

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