Episode 1: The Future of Restaurants
Avenue 26 Street Market
Avenue 26 Street Market, named after longstanding Mexican food stand Avenue 26 Tacos, is a Lincoln Heights night market that housed a wide array of food vendors every night. The open-air market was shut down by the City of L.A. in August 2021, citing complaints from local residents of the market's lack of trash cans, dangerous vehicle traffic in the narrow alleyway and claims of "public urination and defecation" and "crime and violence." There is currently no timeline for the night market's return.
No Us Without You
No Us Without You was formed by partners Damian Diaz and Othón Nolasco during the pandemic when the restaurant industry crumbled in early 2020 and back of the house workers found themselves without a job and ineligible for unemployment. The public charity is aimed at providing food relief to the most disenfranchised hospitality workers affected by the pandemic and currently distributes over 160,000 pounds of food every week, according to their website.
Visit the No Us Without You website and stay connected on social media:
Spago is the flagship restaurant of celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck, located in the heart of Beverly Hills along Canon Drive. The fine dining restaurant serves up farm-to-table California cuisine, with rotating seasonal menus that utilize local California produce and products.
Visit the Spago website and stay connected with Puck on social media:
Located on the edge of Silverlake and East Hollywood, Bé Ú was opened by Uyên Lê in February 2021 and serves up Vietnamese comfort food at affordable prices. After a decade-long career in community building, urban planning and workers' rights, Lê started Bé Ú to implement her own ideas on equitable workplaces with her own restaurant, prioritizing worker health and safety and offering liveable wages.
Visit the Bé Ù website and stay connected on social media:
- @BeUKitchen on Instagram
Hawaii Supermarket is a supermarket specializing in Asian groceries shoppers may be hard pressed to find at their local chain grocery store. The market is situated at the heart of San Gabriel Valley at 120 E. Valley Blvd.
Visit the Hawaii Supermarket website and stay connected on social media:
Episode 2: From Seed to Table
Shiku is a mom-and-pop food stall located in Grand Central Market serving homestyle Korean food from their Andong-style soy-braised chicken to their hambagu steak rice plate. Headed by husband-and-wife duo Kwang Uh and Mina Park, Shiku is dedicated to sharing and preserving Korean vegetables lost to factory farming. In line with Shiku’s mission to amplify Korean vegetables, the vegetables utilized in their recipes are derived from Korean seeds provided by farmer Kristyn Leach of Second Generation Seeds.
Visit the Shiku website and stay connected on social media:
Kristyn Leach is a farmer based in Winters, Calif. growing produce for Namu Restaurant Group. Her work focuses on preserving Korean heritage varieties and natural farming practices, growing produce to grow and preserve seeds. Leach is a member of Second Generation Seeds, a collective of Asian American growers devoted to "helping communities of the Asian diaspora discover and deepen their cultural heritage through seeds."
Visit the Second Generation Seeds website and stay connected on social media:
- @SecondGenerationSeeds on Instagram
Connect with Kristyn Leach on social media:
- @Namu_Farm on Instagram
Alice Waters is a celebrity chef and restaurateur whose influence began in the 1970s when she opened her restaurant Chez Panisse in Berkley, CA. The iconic chef lives by slow food values and eating simply, devoted to changing our relationship with our food and our planet. Her mission to bring farm-to-table education to schools manifested in 1995 when she founded the Edible Schoolyard Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the “transformation of public education by using organic school gardens, kitchens, and cafeterias to teach both academic subjects and the values of nourishment, stewardship, and community.”
Visit the Edible Schoolyard Project website and stay connected on social media:
Stay connected with Alice Waters on social media:
Compton Community Garden
The Compton Community Garden is a system of community gardens owned and operated by the neighborhood. Founded by Sheridan Ross, who spent his retirement developing urban gardens and healthy living programs, Compton Community Garden aims to bring "hope and restoration" to the community by providing space for growing produce and offering classes in gardening.
Visit the Compton Community Garden website and stay connected on social media:
- @ComptonGardens on Instagram
- @ComptonGarden on Facebook
Wahpepah’s Kitchen - Chef Crystal Wahpepah
Wahpepah’s Kitchen was opened by Crystal Wahpepah in Oakland, CA with the objective to "acknowledge that we live on stolen land" and "educate communities and organizations on the health benefits of Native food ways using the knowledge passed onto her." An enrolled member of the Kickapoo nation of Oklahoma, Wahpepah uses ancestral ingredients in her recipes to bring recognition to Native American tradition and foodways to the table.
Visit the Wahpepah's Kitchen website and stay connected on social media:
Crenshaw Dairy Mart
Crenshaw Dairy Mart is an artist collective and art gallery dedicated to "shifting the trauma-induced conditions of poverty and economic injustice, bridging cultural work and advocacy, and investigating ancestries through the lens of Inglewood and its community." But it wasn’t always an art hub. The original Crenshaw Dairy Mart first opened its doors in 1965 as a local convenience store, serving the Black residents of the recently desegregated neighborhood. Keeping the dairy mart’s name and original sign was intentional for founders Patrisse Cullors, noé olivas and Alexandre Dorriz, all of whom actively seek to archive and preserve the area’s history. The reimagined space debuted in February 2020 hosts exhibitions, installations and visiting artists year-round.
Visit the Crenshaw Dairy Mart website and stay connected on social media:
- @CrenshawDairyMart on Instagram
Grand Central Market
Grand Central Market, one of Los Angeles' longest-standing public markets, first opened as the "Wonder Market" in October 1917. Originally touted as "the largest and finest public market on the Pacific Coast," Grand Central Market has since evolved to a thriving microcosm of immigrant cuisine and bustling activity. Today, Grand Central Market is home to over 40 stalls hosting legacy vendors like China Cafe and Roast to Go and rising stars like Eggslut and PBJ.LA.
Visit the Grand Central Market website and stay connected on social media:
Episode 3: Food as Resistance
First known as Hilda’s Market upon its first opening in East L.A. over 60 years ago, Sara’s Market is a family-run corner market handed down three generations. Today, Sara’s Market is headed by Sara and Steven Valdes and carries small, local producers for things like wine, coffee, chorizo and tortillas. Owners Sara and Steven Valdes also allow food trucks and other vendors to sell in front of her store, making Sara’s Market a haven for pop-ups and food trucks especially when restaurants closed down due to the pandemic in early 2020.
Visit the Sara’s Market website and stay connected on social media:
Goat Mafia is a birrieria dedicated to preserving classic birria, originating from Jalisco. Helmed by chefs Juan Garcia and Ivan Flores, Goat Mafia is lauded for its traditional birria taco recipe over 100 years old, according to their website. Though Goat Mafia is firmly rooted in the classics, their menu also pushes towards modern takes like their chivadillas that use beets as a meat substitute.
Visit the Goat Mafia website and stay connected on social media:
Kernel of Truth
Kernel of Truth is an L.A.-based tortilleria on a mission to get traditionally-made, quality tortillas back into homes and restaurant kitchens. Co-owners Ricardo Ortega and Ommar Ahmed started making tortillas in a small kitchen in Boyle Heights in 2014 and expanded to their small factory space in 2018. Today, Kernel of Truth tortillas are used in restaurants across L.A. and can be found on shelves at Sara’s Market in East L.A., Cookbook in Echo Park and Highland Park, and El Machete at the Hollywood Farmers’ Market.
Visit the Kernel of Truth website and stay connected on social media:
- @KernelofTruthOrganics on Instagram
Milpa Grille serves up fast Mexican eats and pays homage to the Mesoamerican milpa system of cultivation where corn, beans and squash are planted together to help each other grow. Opened by Deysi Serrano in 2018, the restaurant pays tribute to the practice of milpa through their dishes, featuring the three core ingredients throughout their menu. Additionally, Serrano offers the restaurant’s infrastructure to budding chefs who don’t have a brick and mortar yet. Currently, two other businesses operate under Milpa Grille’s roof: Macheen and Cafe Cafe.
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Headed by chef Jonathan Perez, Macheen serves up modern breakfast and brunch with a Latin American twist. Macheen operates inside Milpa Grille in Boyle Heights from Monday through Saturday and conducts pop-ups at Smorgasburg L.A. on Sundays.
Stay connected on social media:
Boyle Heights Bridge Runners
Boyle Heights Bridge Runners is a community running club based out of Boyle Heights on a mission to empower and strengthen community through weekly group runs. Initiated in 2013, the running crew meets every Wednesday at Mariachi Plaza at 7:45 p.m. and welcomes all levels of runners.
Stay connected on social media:
Angry Egret Dinette
Angry Egret Dinette is a torta and sandwich shop started by Chef Wes Avila, serving up genre-bending L.A. street food in Mandarin Plaza in Chinatown. The casual eatery is lauded for its cuisine-blending dishes like the highly requested Roy & Jon burrito, filled with duck adobo, a kimchi omelette and salsa macha white rice.
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Steep L.A. is a modern tea room located in the heart of Chinatown and was founded by Lydia Lin and Samuel Wang in September 2019. Inspired by their Chinese tea drinking experiences within their respective families, Lin and Wang opened Steep to offer the “serenity of tea ceremony” to the “fast-paced” Los Angeles setting. Steep L.A. offers a selection of premium black, green oolong and pu-er teas sourced from China and Taiwan.
Visit the Steep L.A. website and stay connected on social media:
Episode 4: Returning to Chinatown
Hailing from a family of cooks, Liang Ye "Lupe" Ning opened Hop Woo with his wife, Judy, in 1993 in the heart of Chinatown. Hop Woo serves up Chinese American favorites like orange chicken and beef steak with asparagus as well as traditional dishes like roast duck. The restaurant gained infamy in the neighborhood for being a Latino-friendly Chinese restaurant after customers learned of Lupe’s Spanish fluency, which he picked up during his time living in Mexico before settling down in Los Angeles.
Visit the Hop Woo website and stay connected on social media:
Phoenix Bakery, located along North Broadway in Chinatown, has been owned and operated by the Chan family since 1938. Well known for their fresh strawberry whipped cream cake, the long-standing Chinese bakery serves cakes and pastries made from recipes passed down across three generations.
Visit the Phoenix Bakery website and stay connected on social media: