A lot has happened for Echo Park in 2011… Our personal lives got a bit busier – I got married and had a grand celebration, and have been spending all my free time this year involved in many civic activities. We’re still living in the same spot, for about 6.5 years now, doing laundry across the street from Masa, but we’re hitting up some new watering holes. And that’s the big news for our community – Echo Park became a destination for our libation of choice (if there’s no tequila): Beer! Redefining Echo Park as a beer destination are two new establishments, Mohawk Bend and Sunset Beer Company, along with a slew of new beer/wine permits at existing locations. Xoia and Fix Coffee are the most recent ones, and about to join in on the fun are Red Hill and Cookbook’s new restaurant on the eastern end.

Land-use issues defined a lot of our time spent on civic activities, including the proposed 74-unit complex at the former Echo Park Community Gardens, 7-11 vying for a spot on Glendale Boulevard, and lots of community cleanups. Next year there will be a lot of new places to dine at (Cookbook, Red Hill, a new pizza place, and probably more), and hopefully we’ll get some more food trucks coming through.

And in case you missed it all, here’s a few things to get you updated – our top three posts of 2011 (based on how many times you all visited).

Top posts of 2011:

What they found at the bottom of Echo Park Lake

We got the scoop on what (and how many) they officially found at the bottom of the lake after the lake draining and some dredging. So if you were taking bets, they found 20 trash cans, one toilet, and two guns (and no dead bodies, guys).

A modern Echo Park Lake draining in pictures

As much as we want our lake back, the two year rehabilitation project (which started in August 2011) started off with a slew of images from many Echo Park residents. We’ve even got our own webcam of the lake progress, courtesy of a couple of nearby residents and their camera. Unfortunately the article sparked some debate, for a reason we’re not sure about, the comments sparked debate about the whole eastside vs. not eastside, which we won’t touch with a ten foot pole.

Maria the Goose takes up new residency away from Echo Park Lake

The infamous Maria the Goose was moved away from the lake in March 2011 to her new pad at the Los Angeles Zoo. The impending Echo Park Lake rehab project was, at that time, scheduled for that spring (it didn’t end up starting until August). Her bestie, Dominic Elhrer, was on the zoo guest list and was allowed to visit. But of course, once she got to the zoo, the veterinarians discovered she was a HE – and aptly renamed the goose Mario. We’re still partial to Maria…

Resolutions for 2012

Last year we made some promises of “Echo Parkian” things to do in 2011. We still haven’t read the Madonnas of Echo Park, but we’ve been reading a lot more after joining a book club. We haven’t climbed all the stairs year either, but got really close during the pre-wedding intense workouts I was doing. We have been doing a lot more farmers’ market shopping, have supported local businesses, and even wrote a lot of articles. We did the most amazing thing ever as an Angeleno and saw the lunar eclipse and sunrise at Griffith Park – that’s going to be hard to top!

For 2012… well, we got a new camera this year, so we will be taking a LOT more photos of Echo Park to document its place in the digital history books. We hope to write more articles on the sister blog, Atwater Village Now. We’d still love to have some more writers contribute to the website, so if you’re looking for an excuse to get out there in Echo Park and write about something or someone, do it! There’s no better way to get to know your community better!

A lot of people keep asking about advertising on Echo Park Now, and I’ll just say it’s not looking like that’s going to happen any time soon, but you’ll be the first to know if we do!

And finally, we’d like to wish everyone a wonderful new year. May 2012 be the best year yet!

Happy New Year!

Did you know…. In Portland you can go to a record store and sell your CDs?

That’s right – we’re talkin’ Portlandia. They’re coming to Echo Park on January 17, 2012 and well, let’s face it – you could re-name the show EchoParklandia and it’d basically be the same show. I have to say, I’m a fan!

The event at The Echo is one of six city tours (dubbed Portlandia: The Tour), and features co-creators Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein. They’ll be performing live music, talking about the show, and playing clips from the show’s second season, which premieres on January 6, 2012. Here’s a little sneak peak of what you can expect (from the show’s website):

Tickets are $20.00 advance BUT here’s the deal – it looks like it’s already sold out. You might be able to get the $26.00 tix on the day of the show, if there are any available.

Flickr photo via patrick_cates

Turn your Christmas tree into compost and mulch!

You can still enjoy your Christmas tree for a few more days until the next trash collection day, during which the Bureau of Sanitation will collect all those curbside trees (just make sure to place it by your cans on collection day). If your tree is small enough, you can also place it in your green bin for collection. Multi-unit residential houses can also place the trees curbside for collection.

Of course, make sure to remove all your ornaments!

Fire stations and Parks and Rec will also collect your trees, but only on Sunday, January 8, 2012 from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm. The closest station near Echo Park to drop off your Christmas tree is Griffith Park in the LA Zoo parking lot.

Click here for more information and additional locations for drop-off.

Flickr photo via sirimiri

Each year we put together a little guide for Echo Parkians to take advantage of local places to celebrate. There are some usual spots, and some new places to go, so if you’re going to head out Saturday evening make sure to support the local economy. And remember, if you do venture outside of Echo Park, the City of LA is providing free metro transportation on New Year’s Eve from 9:00 pm to 2:00 am, so don’t you dare drive under the influence!

Here are your dining options for earlier in the evening, and local spots for the new year countdown:


It’s a bit of a local tradition to have a little New Years Even dinner at Taix restaurant. In addition to serving their normal menu, News Years specials will be served from 4:00 pm to 11:00 pm with a reservation. Specials include Crab Cakes, Roasted Veal Rack, Pan Seared Chilean Sea Bass and other appetizers and desserts. Taix has a full bar, so be sure to enjoy some bubbly with their specials. Call (213) 484-1265 for reservations.

The Park Restaurant

The New Years Eve dinner special is six courses for $60, and includes scallops, oysters, lobster, duck and lamb for the omnivores. Tasty artichoke, Butternut Squash, Mushroom, and Gruyere courses for the veggies. And of course, The Park always has a great wine and beer selection, so we’re sure they’ll have some bubbly for you to enjoy! Seatings are between 6:00 pm and 9:00 pm, be sure to call for reservations! (213) 482-9209

Mohawk Bend

This will be the first New Year’s Eve celebration for the new bar/restaurant on Sunset Boulevard, and there’s a great dinner menu planned. $65 gets you Mohawk’s omnivore and vegan-friendly menu, along with specialty items like Roasted Porcini Mushrooms with potato gnocchi and in-house ricotta; Lobster Orecchiette Gratin with sea urchin and chive; and Lamb Chops with herbed polenta and tomato pine-nut gremolata. You can also add white (3g/$55; 6g/$100) or black truffles (6g/$35) to any dish.

By-the-glass and by-the-bottle bubbly will be available, as well as a beer toast in keepsake glasses at the countdown.

Reservations are required, and seatings are between 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm. The 10:00 pm slot will guarantee your seat until 1:00 am. Email nye2012@mohawk.la for reservations!

City Sip

We’ve spent a New Year’s Eve here before, and it was an amazing place for a chill way to celebrate.

They’ve got a pretty good deal for New Year’s Eve: for $50 a person you get bottomless bubbly, a plate of artisan cheese and charcuterie, and a panini dessert.

Allston Yacht Club

The short version of the menu: Lobster and fish terrine, warm olive oil poached beets, grilled beef tenderloin, wild mushroom fricasse, dessert, and wine pairings. Seatings are at 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm. Call 213.481.0454 for reservations.

The Echo/Echoplex

The annual Bootie LA New Year’s Even 2012 at the Echoplex  from 9:00 pm to 2:00 am. DJ Paul V., DJ Shyboy, DJ Faroff are the resident DJs spinning the mashups, with a midnight countdown and performance by resident dance crew R.A.I.D. (Random Acts of Irreverent Dance). Tickets are $20 in advance, $30 at door.

Funky Sole New Year’s Eve with Breakestra, Music Man Miles, and Clifton AKA Soft Touch. Starts at 10:00 pm at the Echo. Tickets are $15 until midnight (champagne and a toast for the countdown), $10 after.

Club Bahia

They’ve been hosting New Year’s Eve celebrations for over 30 years, and at a great deal – party all night for only $25. Click here for more info.


Masa will be hosting its annual Masa Fancy Pants Pajama Party on New Years Eve. PJs aren’t required, but are encouraged! They’ll be watching the ball drop in New York at 9:00 pm, along with a toast to ring in the new year.

Did we miss anything? Share the info in the comments section below!

For the week of Tuesday, December 27 through Sunday, January 1, 2011

Violent Vickie, Hanin Elias (Atari Teenage Riot), Miata @ Pehrspace

The Growlers, Tomorrows Tulips, The Abigails @ Echo
Dub Club @ Echoplex
2nd Annual Holiday Pehrgeant and Open Bar Mitzvah @ Pehrspace
Monte Mar December Wednesdays with Spencer Livingston @ Lot 1 Cafe
Live Jazz every Wednesday night at 7:00 pm @ Downbeat Café
Upground, Lilo, Fernanda Ulibarri @ Bootleg Bar

We Did It Fest With Shlohmo, Jonwayne, Groundislava, Rl Grime, Juj, D33j, Melonious Drunk, hosted by Zeroh @ Echoplex
The Growlers, Dante vs. Zombies, Thee Rain Cats @ Echo
Franklin Bruno @ Origami Vinyl
Programmed2thrash, The Obsidian Fortress, Rabble/Rabble @ Lot 1 Cafe
Yo Mammas House – Holiday Edition Pt. 2 @ The Short Stop
Snuffaluffagus, Korey Dane, Joey Dosik, Maston @ Bootleg Bar

Matthew Sweet Performing “Girlfriend” – 20 Year Anniversary @ Echoplex
The Growlers, Allah-Las, Trmrs @ Echo
Weyou, Nate Wood Band, TBA @ Pehrspace
Mack Marquard & The Slim Pickins’ play Rebecca Balin’s Residency @ Lot 1 Cafe
Mini Mansions, Deap Vally, Harriet @ Bootleg Bar

Bootie LA NYE 2012 @ Echoplex
Funky Sole NYE with Breakestra @ Echo
Italians do it Better Dance Party: Glass Candy, Chromatics, Desire, and DJ set from Goddollars @ Los Globos

Nothing on the calendar yet, we’ll all be recovering from New Years.

Visit the venue websites for more information on the cost and times of shows. Feel free to add more events in the comment section. All events listed are subject to change at any time, and new events announced for the week after this posting may not be included.

Don’t hit the spiked egg nog if you’re driving over the holidays, the LAPD is cracking down on drunk driving offenders with several sobriety checks around Los Angeles through January 1.

There will be a checkpoint on Friday, December 23, 2011 on the west end of Echo Park at Sunset Boulevard and Coronado Street (which is unusual as they usually set up at Sunset and Portia… perhaps trying to catch all those Mohawk Bend goers from the west?). The checkpoint will start at 8:00 pm and last until 2:00 am.

Click here for more information about the checkpoints over the holidays.

Christmas in Echo Park. Flickr photo via Alex de Corboba

With all the sewer construction going on in Griffith Park right now, the traditional holiday lights put on by the LADWP were canceled this year. But there are a few options in the Los Angeles area still worth checking out!

Train Rides and Santa at Travel Town Museum

Take a Holiday Train Ride and visit with Santa Claus himself at the Travel Town Museum in Griffith Park, where they’ve got the train route decorated with all sorts of holiday lights. The train rides go through December 23, leaving around 5:00 pm each night until 8:00 pm.

Tickets are $7.00 per person (infants 18 months and under are free) – which you should probably purchase ahead of time online. While you can purchase them at the Travel Town ticket booth, things might get a little crowded!

Digital photographs with Santa are available for $5.00 each. Kids will also get a candy cane!

Click here for more info.

Christmas Tree Lane in Altadena

So you’ll have to get on a freeway to get there, but it’ll delight the kids to see a real pretty Christmas Tree Lane. A bonus: It goes through January 1! Click here for more info and for directions.

For other holiday lights and events around Los Angeles and as far as Orange County, check out this Santa Clarita web page.

Where will the desire for twinkling holiday lights take you this year?

The Echo Park Improvement Association is holding itss regularly scheduled Neighborhood Issues Committee meeting tomorrow (Wednesday, December 21). The agenda includes a presentation by representatives from 7-11, who were also present at the last committee meeting. They’ll likely be addressing the same concerns by the neighborhood, including parking, the beer and wine permit, and traffic, among other issues.

With an approval by the neighborhood council, and the corporation’s willingness to work with neighborhood organizations means our magic ball predicts 7-11 will get the space. We’ll see what happens with the vote by the city after the start of the new year.

Also on the agenda are the developers from the Morton Village project, which has been left uncompleted for quite some time now.

Echo Park Improvement Association Neighborhood Issues Committee meeting
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Williams Hall, Barlow Hospital, 2000 Stadium Way

One more chance to get those unique and local gifts from Echo Park Pottery – Sunday, December 18 will be the last open house and sale before the holiday!

The Echo Park Animal Alliance will also be having one more day of Pet Photos with Santa, where prints are $10 each or three for $25, and you can get a bag of home baked dog biscuits for just $10. Zyana Aromatherapy products will also be for sale. Proceeds benefit the wonderful Echo Park Animal Alliance!

Take advantage from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm on Sunday. Echo Park Pottery is located at 1850 Echo Park Avenue.

The annual Curbed Cup is back – where website Curbed LA pegs sixteen neighborhoods against each other, competing for LA’s best neighborhood by popular vote over several rounds. Echo Park went up for the challenge last year and lost to Old Bank (ultimately, Hollywood took the title).

Today, Curbed LA features Echo Park versus North Hollywood in round one. Here’s how Curbed LA describes our little neighborhood:

“What is this, 2006?” you’re surely asking. Yeah, yeah, Echo Park already happened (even the LA Times discovered it late last year), but all those hipster move-ins were just prelude to the bigger and badder gentrification now underway. This year, a tiny 1881 bungalow went for $695,000, a hipster flip went for $739,000, and Heyday Partners’ Dick+Jane townhouses both sold almost immediately for asking or close to it. The Smurf Village/Durbin and the small lot subdivision Morton Village both got reanimated this year, as did the Metropolitan Water District apartments on a neglected side of the neighborhood. EP’s namesake lake was drained for a rehab this year and even snooty Conde Nast Traveler wanted in on the neighborhood action.

So far, Echo Park has the lead at 65%. Click here to vote!

This temporary art installation caught our eye as we sipped $5 mimosas at Lot 1 Cafe during the Echo Park Community Parade last Saturday. Nothing but a yellow mail box hanging from the tree by a chain, with a blank notebook and pen attached. With no directions or how-tos, but without a second thought, we professed our love to Echo Park, dropping that white piece of paper into the yellow letter box, wondering where it would turn up.

Along with my own letter, contributions to the yellow “Love Letters” box are published online at echoparkloveletters.blogspot.com. There’s already nearly 20 love letters published since the November beginning, with love letters ranging from deep poems to personally addressed letters and general love letters, like “What I love is happiness and peacefulness, as well as dirty sexy stuff!” Some of the first set of published letters are transcribed on the back of Lot 1 Cafe beer coasters.

Still no word on who’s behind the art piece and why, but we’re very fascinated with the different types of letters being published on the website that we’re keeping a close eye!

P.S. Click here to read our love letter to Echo Park from last September.

What a sweet face!

This bulldog breed was found in Echo Park today – there is a collar but no tag. Anyone missing a “huge” cute-faced bulldog?

Movember might be officially over, but for all you longer-term bearded fellows out there in Echo Park, Silver Lake and beyond, now’s your chance to show off those long facial locks at the first annual Beard and Mustache Competition at the Silver Lake Library.

Library staff member Johathan Pitre told the LA Times that he wanted to coordinate the event after learning that Jack Passion, two-time world beard champion, had recently moved to Silver Lake. Jack will be on hand at the event to talk about his new book, The Facial Hair Handbook, and Joel Stein will be the celebrity judge. Johathan hopes to introduce people to the fairly new Silver Lake library with the event.

And we’re predicting this event will be a popular one! Categories for entries include: Hipster, Santa Claus, Most Scholarly, Most Outrageous, and Go Big or Go Home. Prizes will be given to winners placing 1st, 2nd, or 3rd. Registration is free, email silver@lapl.org for more details or to register.

Sponsors include the Friends of the Silver Lake Library, Silver Lake Wine, Cha Cha Lounge, Rockaway Records, Red Lion Tavern, Relapse Records and Mane ‘n Tail shampoo. The Cha Cha will also be selling commemorative pint glasses to help raise funds for the library.

If you miss the competition, be sure to follow the many great events going on at the Silver Lake Library, including Sustainable Silver Lake’s monthly series Sustainable Saturdays.

See you at the competition!

The First Annual Beard and Mustache Competition
Tuesday, December 20 at 6:00 pm
Silver Lake Library located at 2411 Glendale Blvd.
Registration deadline: Monday, December 19 at 5:00 pm
Email silver@lapl.org for more details or to register

Echo Park is among a few LA neighborhoods where violent crime has spiked in the past week, according to the LA Times crime mapping report.

From December 1 through December 7 there were five violent crimes and 10 property crimes, averaging 3.4 crimes per 10,00-00 people (which is higher than surrounding neighborhoods like Silver Lake and Chinatown).

The report also indicates that the property crime reports were about average. However, we’ve heard before that there can be an increase in thefts from vehicles around the Christmas holiday – you should never leave your iPod and other valuables in the car, but it’s also risky leaving any clothing and other seemingly non-valuable items.

Stay safe out there! Consider subscribing to Select Patrol, which is not only a great deterrent for crime but a fantastic resource for the Echo Park community.

This Christmas, we’re really excited to start a new family tradition by chucking the whole turkey idea, replacing the traditional holiday meal with some really great, local tamales. Of course, there are a lot of great places to get tamales in Los Angeles. Celaya Bakery in Echo Park and Mama’s Hot Tamales Cafe are probably the most well-known in the immediate area, but we’re adding “White-Girl Tamale Maker” La Guera Tamales to the mix as a healthy and sustainable source for a new really tasty new family tradition.

The owner, chef, and self-proclaimed “white-girl tamale maker” is a sweet, soft-spoken but passionate Echo Park resident named Deborah. Her tamales are hand-tied, the salsas made from scratch, and none of her products have any lard, trans-fats or gluten, and are made of local, organic ingredients whenever possible. To Deborah, the corn is the most important organic ingredient – it is non-GMO, organic/pesticide-free, and really delicious. She describes the masa as being a little coarser than store-bought masa (which is highly processed), but it is definitely lighter and fluffier – it doesn’t leave that “brick” in your tummy feeling that over-processed tamale ingredients can do.

I thought I liked tamales before, but let’s face it – I’m not a traditional tamale type of eater. I don’t eat red meat or pork, and frankly I’m not a lot of meat at all these days; I grew up in a health food store, eat tofu, and probably might be labeled as a some kind of hippie/hipster. But I also know good healthy food – so we tried the Blue Corn Jalapeño tamale, and LOVED it.

Blue Corn Jalapeno tamale

The jalapeños in the Blue Corn tamale I ate are from Tutti Frutti Farms, which you can find at the Atwater Village Farmers’ Market. I topped it with sour cream and her homemade salsa (which also uses ingredients from the local farmers’ markets), adding another layer of flavor that just makes my mouth water. One Yelp! reviewer sums it up nicely for us: ” Oh my god oh my god oh my god oh my freakin god these things are delicious.”

Although Deborah’s professional background is mainly in business rather than cooking, she learned the secrets of making tamales from a tamaleros family from Veracruz, Mexico. She also worked in Mama’s Hot Tamale Café through their business training program. The company tagline, “merging tradition with nutrition,” might help you more traditional tamale eaters digest her concept. It’s really important to her that the tamales are artisanal, not produced by a big factory.

It wasn't hard to finish the whole tamale....

For the carnivore, you have the choice of Organic free-range chicken or family farmed pork. There’s the Blue Corn Jalapeno and cheese for the vegetarians. The vegans (which are very excited about her tamales) have Spinach and Shiitake Mushroom Sesame Kale, Blue Corn Jalapeno and Dayia, and “Sasquash” (baked yam and butternut squash masa with sweet red bean filling). She also has vegan dessert tamales with fillings like FigNana, Ginger Pear, and Strawberry, that also make really great breakfast options.

Keep in mind that La Guera Tamales are not the cheap, frozen food aisle type of meals – although some might cringe at the $5 each price tag, it’s actually a pretty cheap meal as they will fill you up! A half dozen gets you a slight discount at $29, and a dozen for $58.

Where you’ll win at price-wise is the free delivery: Deborah personally delivers tamale orders for free to local Los Angeles locations. This works out for customers mainly because as she’s delivering to a regularly scheduled customer, she’ll let you know on her email list if she’s going to be in your neighborhood – that way she can deliver (for free) an order as small as two tamales.

Holidays are a busy time of year – but Deborah still delivers on Christmas Day. She just started offering nationwide shipping for those customers outside of LA who are craving La Guera Tamales (make sure to order by December 18). For local delivery, place your order with La Guera as soon as possible! Placing an order is easy online, but you can also find Deborah hanging out with her friend, The Flan King, at the Echo Park Farmers’ Market every Friday.

Go to gttamales.com to order and for more info!