Ford on the Road Neighborhood Guide: East LA

Ford on the Road’s first destination is the Versa-Style Ten Year Anniversary Festival, a two-day hip-hop festival at the East LA Performing Arts Academy! To prepare you for this part of your journey, we asked two Versa-Style dancers, Alli Gray and Kimberly Palacios, about their favorite East LA spots. 

2. We Are Not A Minority mural conservancy of LA

This East LA mural was featured in Tupac Shakur’s “To Live & Die in LA” video. (Courtesy of Isabel Rojas-Williams/MCLA)

Alli, you direct an after-school dance program at the East LA Performing Arts Academy. What do you love most about the area?

Alli Gray: East LA is a community ingrained with a deep culture and appreciation of the arts. What I love most about this neighborhood is being inspired by the youth of this community. There are so many young people who are open and eager to learn! They have a true passion for dance – its history, culture and purpose. I am constantly inspired by their hard work and dedication.

That appreciation for the arts is reflected in the area’s famous street art, as well. What murals would you recommend checking out? 

“Muro que Habla, Canta y Grita” (The Wall That Speak, Sings, and Shouts) at at Ruben F. Salazar Park.

“Muro que Habla, Canta y Grita” at Salazar Park. (Courtesy of Stephen L. Williams)

AG: My favorite mural is “Muro que Habla, Canta y Grita” (The Wall That Speak, Sings, and Shouts) by Paul Botello. It’s located at Whittier Blvd. and Alma Ave., atRuben F. Salazar Park. It is a breathtaking piece of art – the vibrant color and detail are truly captivating!

Kimberly PalaciosMy absolute favorite is “We Are Not a Minority” by El Congreso de Artistas Cosmicos de las Americas de San Diego. It’s a tribute to Che Guevara and it’s located at Estrada Courts. If you look closely you can see it featured in The Black Eyed Peas music video for the song “Where is the Love?”

What are some fun things to do for free? 

A view from the perspective of the famed
A view from the perspective of the famed “El Pino.” (Courtesy of Erick Molinar)

KP: People love to go to the top of City Terrace and look at the incredible view – you can see the whole city from there!

Also, one of the symbols of East LA is a famous tree called “El Pino.” It’s located on the corner of Folsom and N. Indiana Streets and has been featured in a few movies.

What’s your favorite place to grab a bite?

AG: My favorite spot is Tamales Liliana’s, an East LA favorite. I love going there to get their famous tamales, but everything on the menu is delicious.

I also love Artic Hotspot Bakery and Café. It’s a great place to get a healthy lunch. From wraps to juices, everything there is incredibly fresh and tasty. The atmosphere is cute and the staff is always friendly.

What is your favorite area to walk around? 

A vendor at El Mercadito, a traditional Latin American-style marketplace. (Courtesy of Jonathan Olivares)

A vendor at El Mercadito, a traditional Latin American-style marketplace. (Courtesy of Jonathan Olivares)

KPEl Mercadito is an incredible area full of authentic Mexican shops and restaurants — it’s like visiting Mexico without leaving LA. Almost everything in there comes from Mexico: medicine, clothes, shoes and crafts.

Versa-Style Ten Year Anniversary Festival is this weekend, May 16-17, learn more about it here

Allison “Alli” Gray is a dancer, choreographer and teacher based in LA. She directs an after-school dance program at the East Los Angeles Performing Arts Academy and is a member of Versa-Style Dance Company.

Kimberly Palacios is a graduating senior at the East Los Angeles Performing Arts Academy and is a member of Versa-Style: Next Generation.