Los Angeles

Harvey Guillén's Day Off in Echo Park Is a Melting Pot Experience

The ‘What We Do in the Shadows' actor shows us his favorite Mexican-American joints and has our outfits judged by an actual cat.

Thrillist/YouTube
Thrillist/YouTube
Thrillist/YouTube

Harvey Guillén likes the Los Angeles neighborhood Echo Park so much he’s tempted to gatekeep it. “I almost don’t want to tell everyone how great it is,” the What We Do in the Shadows actor said in a recent interview with Thrillist. “Because then it’ll just get full!”

Echo Park has everything Guillén could possibly want from a neighborhood. Deep-rooted culture and history? Check. A big Latinx community? Check. Queer activism landmarks? Also check. And of course, there is a vast selection of delicious Mexican restaurants and cafes that Guillén-a proud Mexican-American-swears by.

Guillén’s Echo Park embodies both Mexican tradition and American transformation, and Guillén feels at home here. A true born-and-raised Angeleno with Mexican roots, he loves walking around the neighborhood knowing it carries such a rich history. Plus, some of his go-to spots include Americanized versions of authentic Mexican food-and he just loves it when both his cultures are combined together.

In our series “Ride With Me,” Guillén guides us through the culture and community of Echo Park, spilling the tea on where to find the absolute best hard-shell tacos and giving us tips on his favorite thrifting store. Juicy burritos, mango and sticky rice desserts, and gorgeous Downtown LA views are just some of what makes Guillén’s Echo Park so special-and we’re ready to experience every piece of it.

So pack your bags and come with us-we’re going to Echo Park.

Places to Eat & Drink

Los Burritos
The “green salsa versus red salsa” debate isn’t really one for Guillén. Green salsa just wins. At Los Burritos, a long-established Mexican restaurant, he definitely always adds green salsa to his tacos.

His favorite order? The hard-shell chicken taco. Don’t get him wrong, he loves the authentic soft-shell tacos, but he does like a crunch. “For me, it’s a combination of both traditional and Americanized,” he said. “Which is kind of like me!”

Sticky Rice
At Sticky Rice, a Thai joint featuring an open-air bar, it’s imperative that you try the curries. You can’t go wrong, according to Guillén.

At the same time, it’s tough for him to choose his favorite items because that always changes. Besides the curries, he highly recommends the spring rolls and Tom Yum Su. “On a cold day, that’s the perfect thing to have for dinner,” he said.

But don’t settle the bill before trying the mango and sticky rice dessert. “That one’s a great way to finish everything,” he said. “Like a button piece!”

Tierra Mia Coffee
Cafe Tierra Mia is a treasure trove for caffeine fans and abstainers alike. One of Guillén’s absolute favorites is the Chocolate Mexicano Frappe-a cold, blended drink with the flavors of Mexican hot chocolate-because it reminds him of his abuelita’s hot chocolate he used to drink growing up.

Tierra Mia is a nostalgic and cozy spot for Guillén. It makes his mind travel back to his childhood, and he loves to sit down, sip on a drink, and do some writing by the window. “It has a really great actual booth by the window,” he said. “And you can do [some] great people watching there.”

The Black Cat
The Black Cat is a landmark in LA, and it paved the way for queer activism. “It was the first place that actually had LGBTQIA riots,” Guillén recalled. “But it wasn’t really publicized-so it was actually before Stonewall.”

Plus, they have great cocktails and tapas. His go-to drink? The Moscow mule, which is served in the traditional copper cup and is super refreshing.

“Just being in that room is just so invigorating,” said Guillén. “Just to know what has gone down and the people who’ve gone through those doors and have paved the way for people like me. I’m just happy that The Black Cat is still there and you can visit it!”

Things to Do

Sundays Best
At thrift store Sunday’s Best, the store cat-named Sunday-will judge your outfit. “If you pick something and they don’t like it, they’ll give you a look,” Guillén warned.

Sunday’s Best is his go-to store when he’s looking for some good thrifting finds. One time, he even found a vintage Dior cardigan from the 1960s. Owned by his good friend Denisse and her partner Adriana, Sunday’s Best is a major fashion destination for the Latinx community in Echo Park. “It’s become a staple to those families who depend on it to clothe their whole family for the year,” Guillén said.

Guillén shops at Sunday’s Best for both himself and his What We Do in the Shadows character, Guillermo. “When I auditioned for the show, I went to Sunday’s Best to pick out something to help me land the role because I was trying to envision what this character would look like,” Guillén said. “Eventually, I did put pieces together that ended up being the palette for Guillermo.”

The Swan Boats
If you’re in the mood for some scenic exercise, pedaling away with the Swan Boats is what you need. And the view of Downtown LA from the lake is just majestic.

It’s the perfect date spot, but maybe avoid it on a first date. To Guillén, it makes best for a second or third date, “where you’re okay with sweating in front of the person!”Want more Thrillist? Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat.

Serena Tara is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

Wil Fulton is a senior development producer Thrillist. If you told him he could only eat one food for the rest of his life, he’d be frightened and confused. Follow him @wilfulton.

Los Angeles

Marcus Scribner's Day Off in Crenshaw, LA Is a Tour of BBQ, Fried Chicken & Soul Food

The ‘Blackish' actor takes us to his favorite restaurants in his hometown of Crenshaw.

Thrillist/YouTube
Thrillist/YouTube
Thrillist/YouTube

Without tooting his own horn, Marcus Scribner likes to say that Los Angeles made him into a well-rounded human being. It’s all thanks to the city’s diverse mix of experiences, people, and culture.

“What I love most about LA is I feel like we have so many different biomes and people from different backgrounds,” the Blackish actor said in a recent interview with Thrillist. “I would just hop all around town all the time and get all those different experiences.”

Crenshaw, though, holds a special place in Scribner’s heart. It’s kind of like an oasis of peace and community for him. “It’s still a predominantly Black neighbourhood,” he explained. “Which is pretty dope to see in the centre of Los Angeles.” His dad used to say that getting into the neighbourhood feels peaceful and quiet, but as soon as you step out, it’s like, “Welcome to the jungle!”

Besides the tight-knit community, there’s another main thread in Scribner’s Crenshaw: fried chicken. While guiding us to the discovery of his neighbourhood in our series “Ride With Me,” Scribner realized that every single spot he took us to offers really good fried chicken. “It says something about me, I think,” he said. Scribner knows all the best fried chicken spots around town, and we’re definitely here for it.

The best breakfast spot in the world, Los Angeles staple chicken and waffle joints that even President Obama goes to, and delicious, Black-owned soul food restaurants are only some of the many Crenshaw gems Scribner shares with us.

Get ready to taste the best soul food LA has to offer. We’re going to Crenshaw.

Places to Eat & Drink

Jacks N Joe
Scribner doesn’t care what anyone else says, this is the best breakfast spot “on planet Earth.”

According to Scribner, their pancakes are amazing, and they come with maple butter syrup. But his favourite dish is the hash browns. “You can get the hash browns extra well done,” he suggested. “It’s over, it’s over. You’re having the best meal of your life.”

Roscoe’s House of Chicken N Waffles
President Obama stole Scribner’s special here-or at least that’s what Scribner will tell you.

“I’ve been ordering that, [and] all of a sudden they changed it to Obama Special when he popped out the cut,” Scribner said. No disrespect to Obama, but Scribner’s order has always been the Obama Special, which includes three wings with a waffle (or potato salad or fries). Scribner just adds an extra waffle to the mix, and that’s his all-time favourite order.

Phillips Barbecue
Scribner is aware he’ll get a lot of flack for saying this, but that’s okay. “Phillips Barbecue is hands down my favourite barbecue location,” he said.

“The meats are pretty good quality and the meats themselves are delicious and I love them,” he explained. “But it’s the sides and the sauce that just hit.” Their baked beans and macaroni salad are incredible, and you should put them right on your barbecue sandwich.

Just be careful: Their sauces are spicy, and the highest level is just too hot according to Scribner. His advice? Get the mixed sauce, and you’ll receive mild and hot together.

Alta Adams
This Black-owned soul food restaurant looks amazing, and it tastes even better. The setting is high-end, and their dishes are authentic soul food. They have “the best fried chicken,” according to Scribner.

“I like it because the chicken is moist, but it’s not too moist,” he explained. “This is some real chicken, which has some good moisture and the skin is perfect.” If you’re not in the mood for chicken, their oxtails are also a great choice. You shouldn’t miss out on the cornbread, either.

Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken
This place is so good that it started in Tennessee and eventually expanded into LA.

“It’s just the bomb,” said Scribner. “The fried chicken is so good and spicy, which I love.” Their collard greens and baked beans are both must-trys as well, and Scribner would be the one to know. “I love baked beans,” he said. “I used to just eat straight up Bush’s baked beans out of the can, bruh. I’m wilding. I’m about that life.”

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Serena Tara is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

Tiana Attride is a former associate editor at Thrillist. She cares a little too much about the Cowboy Bebop soundtrack.

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