If you want to explore an important piece of Los Angeles history, then Olvera Street is a great place to start. Originally called Wine Street, it was renamed in honor of judge Agustin Olvera and is located in the oldest part of LA, even including the city’s oldest existing house. Today, Olvera Street is a short pedestrian stretch of restaurants and vendors and is one of the places in Los Angeles where Mexican culture really comes alive.
All the vendors have some really interesting stuff for sale, ranging from bags and purses to luchador masks to other knickknacks and toys. I found my name on a keychain, which almost never happens, at one of the stalls here and of course I bought it. I think that even with a budget of ten or twenty dollars, you can come away with some great souvenirs. I’ve been to Olvera Street four or five times already and there are some places that I think people should check out:
Earlier, I mentioned that Olvera Street houses the oldest standing home in Los Angeles and that home is called the Avila Adobe, which was built around 1818. Visitors can enter the house for free and see the different rooms that are decorated similarly to when the house was inhabited and there are some interesting things such as a water tub for bathing in the kitchen and a candle with a wire that acted as a time limit for possible suitors to woo the owner’s daughter. There is also a courtyard with a carreta, or cart, that was a replica of those used by merchants in the 18th and 19th centuries.
If you have never had a churro filled with custard or caramel, then you are missing out big time. Churros are already great on their own, but its awesomeness becomes magnified when you stuff it with semi-liquidy goodness. When you order a churro here, you have a choice of several different fillings that include the aforementioned custard and caramel as well as guava, cheesecake, chocolate, and more. Of course, they have other food items for sale, but this place is called Mr. Churro for a reason.
Cielito Lindo stands at the edge of Olvera Street and is famous for their taquitos drenched in avocado sauce. The sauce really makes the dish and I am getting really hungry just writing this. Since this place has been around since the 1930s, it has been regarded as a beloved Los Angeles staple among locals. There isn’t really much room to sit inside, but I took my taquitos to a bench in the plaza during the last time I ordered them and was treated to some music to go along with my meal. Very enjoyable experience.
Olvera Street is close to many other cultural hubs in Los Angeles such as Little Tokyo and Chinatown, showing just how diverse this city has become. I want to go back later this month for the Dia De Los Muertos celebrations, but we’ll see. Like I said earlier, if you really want to get a piece of LA history, then this is a location that you should not miss.