Interview with POW! WOW! founder Jasper Wong

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Please introduce yourself to the L.A. TACO readers. Who you are and what you do?

My name is Jasper Wong and I’m the founder of POW! WOW! Primarily a mural festival that has become an art and music school, creative community centers, and more. It’s currently held in Hawaii, Texas, California, Taiwan and Japan.

This year is Pow!Wow!’s fifth anniversary. Congratulations. Please describe what Pow!Wow! was when you first started and what it has now become in 2015.

POW! WOW! originally started as an excuse to bring my friends together and paint. A very simple idea that became much larger in scale over the years. What began as a gallery exhibit became a mural festival with 100+ artists painting 70 murals over a period of a week. We’re now expanding globally and creating related programming with our free art and music schools for the youth.

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My Favorite Taco ~ Seven Davis Jr.

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(photo by Marc Sethi)

Seven Davis Jr. is the musician your favorite producer listens to, because he pushes subtle but important boundaries in house music and beyond. On July 24th, he will release his long-awaited debut album, Universes, via Ninja Tune. The album is said to be deeply personal, bringing a positive message rooted in freedom, integrity and self-improvement: “Finding your place. Knowing yourself. Being where you belong.” A mysterious figure who who quietly lived in Los Angeles for years, we got the chance to interview Seven over email last week to discuss music, travel, tacos, and happiness…

Favorite taco spot?
La Victoria in San Jose California

You’ve lived all over the world, what eventually brought you to Los Angeles?
Once upon a time I moved to Los Angeles to get away from a bad environment I had been in for years and to begin a new creative life. After almost 8 more (less harsh) years living in LA, I moved to Europe. I now live various places around the world. I still occasionally visit LA.
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Recap: Taco Madness 2015 at Villains Tavern

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In honor of Taco Madness being an event for the people, we decided to give our staff photographers the day off to enjoy their tacos, and instead collected some of our favorite photos from Instagram.

The day long event consisted of good vibes and delicious tacos in every direction, along with some of L.A.’s best graffiti artists doing their thing while being serenaded by the sounds of our favorite DJs. We couldnt help but notice how it seemed like we were hanging out in one of our Tio’s back yards enjoying ice cold drinks and some of the most amazing tacos Los Angeles has to offer. The winner of our Best in Show taco was Tacos Cuernavaca– our mystery judge said it was a very difficult decision because all of them were great, but Cuernavaca was the best.

Huge thanks to Villain’s Tavern, Red Bull LAX, Azul212, AlexandertheGreatestofThemAll, and all the people who came out to celebrate Los Angeles and the taco lifestyle with us.

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10 Essential Street Foods in South Los Angeles

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First We Feast continues to impress with their coverage of all parts of Los Angeles, rare for any publication without its HQ in the city, and often uncommon even for purely local publications. Following up on Tony Chen’s coverage of The Rise of the Compton Taco, editor Erin Mosbaugh files a survey of street food options in South L.A. as recommended by Street Gourmet LA Bill Esparza.

Opening with the line “For those Angelenos who don’t make it south of the 10 Freeway, we have one thing to say: We feel sorry for you.” the roundup includes ten essential street foods including this blog’s favorite carnitas (Carnitas el Momo, winner of our taco of the year award). Here’s an excerpt and the link:

Tortas at Super Tortas D.F.
Address and phone:
 E 41st St (just off the southwestern corner of E 41st St and S Central Ave), South L.A. (323-351-8379)
Good for: Expertly-layered combo sandwiches prepared by trained torteros 

Esparza says: “These guys are genuine, skilled sandwich makers trained in Mexico City, which makes a world of difference. They’re really conscientious about the bread they’re using—it’s made for them at a local bakery to their specifications. They’re offering all those different, fun combinations that you’d find at a Mexico City-style torta stand: sandwiches named after people from different countries (Suiza, Española), states in Mexico (Poblana, Toluqueña), and sexy girls. But the Cubana is the mother of all tortas; it has everything. For the Cubana, the tortero takes some eggs, scrambles them, throws them out on a huge flat crate, and drops some chorizo in there. Then he starts cutting the omelet and folding it in layers. He takes that super-thin, layered omelet and puts it onto the sandwich, along with hot dogs, milanesa, several different cold cuts, yellow and white cheese, avocado, a thin layer of mayo and refried beans, tomato, lettuce, onion, chiles chipotles, and pickled jalapeños.”

Read the full article here.

The Photography of Meet Frankie C

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We first met Frankie C. when he shared his remarkable photos of Sikhs in Los Angeles with us earlier this year. His low profile and humble approach are rare in the era of social media and self-promotion, but his work speaks for itself. A native Angeleño, Frankie is deeply connected to the people of Los Angeles, and you can see that in his portraits of the city’s residents, and the details he captures on his sojourns around every part of L.A. Please enjoy this selection of his photography along with a Q&A with this emerging local artist.

What’s your favorite taco?
-Cheese tacos from Taqueria El Tapatio in Glendale. Traditionally made with cheese in between 2 small tortillas. I’m hungry thinking of them now.

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Taco Madness 2015: Let the Madness Begin

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Welcome L.A. Taco lovers, it’s that time of year again, when we band together as a community and argue passionately over what is our city’s best taco. This year we’ve shaken things up a little bit, let us walk you through the basic changes.

Update 4-9-2015
We have a winner! Congratulations to Guerrilla Tacos in their first Taco Madness victory. It was incredibly close, and clearly both spots were deserving of victory. Both will be at our event on April 19th!

Update 4-3-2015
Our Taco Madness Party at Villain’s Tavern is ON. April 19th is the new date. Get Tickets now! There will be tacos, DJs, live art, and surprises!

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A Beginner’s Guide to Offal Tacos by The Offalo ~ Part Three

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We’ve long admired the food writing and reviews of “The Offalo,” an Angeleño who loves food and especially cuts of meat that others may be unfamiliar with. We asked him if he would be interested in exploring the offal side of our city’s taco scene, and he jumped directly into the job, as you can read below. We hope this guide will help the uninitiated be bold and try some delicious tacos they ordinarily wouldn’t have ordered, while also guiding those who do walk on the offal side some suggestions for where to get their fix….

Missed Part One? or Part Two?

A Beginner’s Guide to Offal Tacos: Part Three, Variety

Now that we’ve covered beef and pork, the two more popular animals on taco menus, we can begin to tackle some other animals. Of course, I can’t hope to cover every edible part from every kind of animal, but here are some popular and delicious variety meats I’ve come across here in Los Angeles.

Borrego, or lamb, is used in many Mexican dishes such as birria, a stew often made with either goat or lamb, and barbacoa, whole lamb traditionally slow-cooked in the ground, similar to Hawaiian pig roast. It is in this latter preparation that we’ll find offal tacos:

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A Beginner’s Guide to Offal Tacos by The Offalo ~ Part Two

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We’ve long admired the food writing and reviews of “The Offalo,” an Angeleño who loves food and especially cuts of meat that others may be unfamiliar with. We asked him if he would be interested in exploring the offal side of our city’s taco scene, and he jumped directly into the job, as you can read below. We hope this guide will help the uninitiated be bold and try some delicious tacos they ordinarily wouldn’t have ordered, while also guiding those who do walk on the offal side some suggestions for where to get their fix….

Missed Part One? Click Here. Part Three is here.

A Beginner’s Guide to Offal Tacos: Part Two, Pork

Probably the two best known types of pork tacos are al pastor, marinated pork stacked and spit-roasted like shawarma (which it is derived from), and carnitas, thick cuts of pork slow-cooked in fat (lard or oil) like French confit. Though delicious, al pastor does not contain offal and will not be discussed here.

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A Beginner’s Guide to Offal Tacos by The Offalo ~ Part One

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We’ve long admired the food writing and reviews of “The Offalo,” an Angeleño who loves food and especially cuts of meat that others may be unfamiliar with. We asked him if he would be interested in exploring the offal side of our city’s taco scene, and he jumped directly into the job, as you can read below. We hope this guide will help the uninitiated be bold and try some delicious tacos they ordinarily wouldn’t have ordered, while also guiding those who do walk on the offal side some suggestions for where to get their fix….

Offal. The word itself doesn’t sound that great. Depending on how you pronounce it, it could come suspiciously close to “awful”. However, as “awful” meant “awesome” once upon a time, “offal” wasn’t a four-letter word with Americans until recent decades (see “Liver & Onions” in many an old-fashioned diner menu). But with factory farms bringing affordable beef steaks and chicken breasts to the masses, the need, and thus the demand, for organ meats has declined in the last half century-plus.

However, like the maligned boiled-grey Brussels sprouts of yore reborn as one of the past decade’s hottest vegetables, offal is making a comeback of sorts.   High end restaurants around the country are highlighting dishes made with pig ears and tails, beef and lamb hearts, and housemade terrines of headcheese. And roasted bone marrow might be just as ubiquitous as roasted Brussels sprouts these days.
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Preview: Mtendere Mandowa “Overgrown” ~ Opens March 14th

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Mtendere Mandowa, known to many as Teebs, first got onto our radar as a musician. His otherworldly music and unique sense of time and space within sound was mind-unravelling. As soon as we heard him play at Low End a few years ago, we knew he was on to something very special.

Back in 2012 he agreed to do an interview with LA TACO and while researching him, we discovered that he was an exceptionally talented visual artist. Many creative people excel at various forms of art, but it was still surprising to see just how accomplished and interesting his painting was, even back then at a fairly early stage.

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My Favorite Taco ~ The Most Best

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The Echo Park collective known as The Most Best make catchy electronic pop that can be either chill, or danceable and are winning new fans in LA and worldwide thanks to the single “Gold” (stream below). The band plays TONIGHT at Lot 1 in Echo Park, and on March 10th at Harvard and Stone. They also really know their tacos, as we found out below…
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