Are The Paisa Bars Disappearing?

My compa Don Ignacio SMC, inspired me to write this post because he had some videos on his Facebook page with old Rancheras/Corridos/Nortenas. While browsing through  the videos and listening to others on YouTube I noticed a common theme of old paisa bars, they seemed always pop up in the older videos. Artists such as Vicente Fernandez and Los Tigeres del Norte and countless others always had scenes in old paisa bars. Most of these are classic movie clips they starred in from back in the 1970s and 1980s.

No tengas miedo metete…..

The typical paisa (to me) is described as:

  • Big with lots of booths and tables
  • Usually a baby blue or dirty white color/wood paneling
  • The occupants,  mostly men and the women mostly ficheras
  • Regulars from 1971
  • The best juke boxes around
  • Budweiser and Tequila
  • Cheap drinks
  • Ripped up pool tables with cheap wood paneling
  • The smell of windex and cloro
  • The womens bathroom almost non existent

Growing up I noticed there were tons of these spots all over Los Angeles including San Pedro/Harbor Area. These joints always looked forbidden to go into and mostly always had that infamous cortina covering the doorway. As time went by and the era of newer bars/clubs, sports bars and lounges started popping up many of these places started shutting down. In some instances many of these places started getting gentrified by younger hipster kids ( look at Echo Park or downtown) . However, there are still some of these spots scattered around the hood. In San Pedro we got the Kan Kan on 1st and Paciific and in Wilmington there is a good handful left along Avalon Blvd. Now that am old enough to get into these places it is always a historical treat to be able to check one out.  For now I’d like to give some recognition to some of these paisa cantinas and bars from back in the days…Cheers!!!!

Karla’s Bar 1st Boyle Heights

“Lobo” he always posts behind Dino’s Bar in Wilmington, he got the thickest fur ever!

I think someone said this was a gay paisa bar but I don’t know the picture of the hot girl is throwing me off. Boyal Heights 1st Street

This place is a done deal probably been shut down since 1919.

Franco’s Bar still active South Central.

Los Cowboys, Wilmington B Street is long gone. This photo was personally given to me by photographer John Humble thanks again.

Indian Room circa 2006, San Pedro it used to be a straight up paisa bar but in the last four years it got all cool and hip the paisa’s left and another generation took over. Pacific and 10th st.

3rd Street Los Angeles

It’s a wrap here..Wilmington

El Tarasco…Wilmington, Avalon Blvd still active.

El Puerto Bar still poppin…Wilmington, Avalon Blvd

1st st billiards. Boyal Heights

Mi Tenampa on Santa Fe city of Vernon…Not sure if this place opens up late night but it was closed when I seen it.

Kitty Kat Bar… on Santa Fe city of Vernon

Amelia’s Club, Wilmington

Long Beach

Why do you love/or dislike these paisa bars so much? please share your feelings.

Asta la proxima gueyes!


17 thoughts on “Are The Paisa Bars Disappearing?

  1. El Puerto in Wilmington next to the Don hotel used to be The Portlight. My adopted son’s real mom’s hangout in the late 80s.

  2. These are the kind of bars I grew up in, only in San Jose, not LA. From when I was nine years old, my dad would take me in with him. It’s where I learned to play pool, order a drink, double-knot my shoelaces (you don’t want your shoes to fly off if you have to give somebody a pateazo in a fight), and where I learned music through the jukebox, among many other things, all before I hit adolescence. You never forget the smell of those places. I just got back from a visit there. Most of the ones I remember are gone–like, the buildings completely gone, new strip malls in their place.

  3. Ha, I just took a pic of the kitty kat bar recently. I love the door and sign of the Taxy bar: the door is all inner city security gates and the sign is yuppies classing it up! Excellent!

  4. Awesome post DJ! You’re brave girl! I’m always afraid to go into those paisa bars. On our first Drinkin Heights expedition we went to Bob’s Plush Cellar on Daly Ave in Lincoln Heights and it fit all the above requirements. Me and Vidalia were the only non-fichera ladies in the place and damn, did those women give us some hard looks, haha!

    Here in LH too most of the paisa bars have been gone for awhile. I know we’ve talked about em before but there was The California Night Club, Mi Barra, Hanstadt’s (where a guy told me you used to be able to get a lap dance for $5!).

    I read an article in the LA Weekly how a lot of the bars have gone private and into people’s houses and garages away from the meddling rules of the authorities. Maybe the paisa bars are all underground now?
    Here’s the horribly written and full of cliches article:

  5. Haha I wish I could put all of the bars on here but I only picked the ones I had pix of …
    Chimatli haha I never go alone of course usually with a few people or a larger group. We always chat with the paisas n make them feel like we are part of the crew so it works out. However, there are times that yes, we get stares from the hombres or the ficheras lol but its all good. At the Kan Kan bar on Thursday nights they used to have strippers too and you could get a 2 min lap dance for 1 dolla! haha. Interesting artical I have heard of after hour houses where they sell beer but never full blown bars now those seem shady scarier. If you notice the happy hour sign on the Indian Room picture… how cheap is that 1, 50 for beer wow thats a bargain lol that most liky do not exist anymore.

  6. Those paisa bars are way too shady. Most of the people are all doing/selling cocaine and crystal meth in there. Growing up living next door to one of them I’m glad those paisa bars are shutting down.

  7. Reds is a lesbian bar and they have an internet juk box !!! There’s also Las Palomas, which is right next to East Side Snob and it totally shows the incoming gentrification of old paisa bars getting competition from bars that wanna have that paisa feel without all the paisas, but that’s another post I’m working on. I go to paisa bars and feel at home, but when I go to East side snob I get looks from everyone ? chale, fuck that.

  8. the same with La Cita. From opening to 9 p.m. it’s a straight out paisa bar, but in a flash it turns into a hipster bar. Mucho Wednesdays are pretty dope too 🙂

  9. Redz (I think it was called La Chupa Rosa) is a lesbian bar. But regulars range from men that could be your tio, young gay paisas, latina lipstick lesbians and your unmarried middle-aged tia. On Friday and Saturday nights they have a show with the likes of Thalia, Shakira, Laura Leon and Paquita la del Barrio – oh and I’ve even seen Beyonce! Beer is cheap and the proprieter Gabby is really nice.

  10. The irony with loving these places is that our presence in them, endangers their existence. 10 years back, groups of us would ‘invade’ some of the neighborhood watering holes [Dusty’s in Highland Park, Jalisco Inn downtown and others] for impromptu birthday parties. Our appearance was obviously daunting to the customers—and we are people of color too. However, we were not in the same economic situation—and that was a high enough wall to mark us as tourists. In truth, we were curious and rolled up in a herd, to feel safe. I don’t feel comfortable doing that anymore—I feel its like breaking something that is sacred.

  11. random hero: try M bar across from east side luv. they aren’t as pretentious and the owner actually grew up in the east side…and the michelladas…ni se dice! While everyone was posted outside the door at east side luv…we walked right in at M.

  12. I wouldn’t know a thing about any of these bars, I went to a paisa club once when I was like 18 and was uncomfortable… anyway that Tigres song is awesome, one of my faves! and P.S. I went to eastside luv once and hated it

  13. Great piece. Maybe some of the bars are shutting down but not all and they will remain just as sure as the sun rises, but the way things usta be the old school times will always live through people like you and me because we wont let that fade away.

  14. Hi, my name is Anayeli Hernandez and I am an undergraduate research assistant at Cal State Long Beach. Dr. Macias and I are working on a project about Disappearing Queer Latinx Spaces in East L.A.. We are specifically looking at two bars: Plush Pony and Redz. Unfortunately, the queer latinx community is underrepresented, so we are hoping to find members who used to attend those bars so we can interview them for our project. If you know any regulars or can point us in the right direction please feel free to email me at

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