When you hear “Los Angeles”, what comes to mind first? Most people might summon images of the Santa Monica Pier or the Hollywood sign. If you’re a jaded local you might have flashbacks to your commute on the 405. Understandably, many of the images that capture the cultural imagination are situated on the westside of Los Angeles, but this part of the city is huge and portions of it are often forgotten– parts of the city where real Angelenos live, work and eat.
Mid-City is one such place. Tucked between downtown and the sunny Instagram-famous parts of West LA, is the home and formative muse of Charles Bukowski, Ray Charles’ recording studio, a dispensary at the forefront of cannabis retail, and hidden in an unassuming gas station, the best al pastor taco in LA.
Situated on the frontage road off Venice Boulevard, the Pottery is hard to miss with its vibrant pink and blue mural painted across their in-house cultivation center. The check-in process is short, cursory and allows you a moment to take in the rest of the modern, open concept space that shows off their product. The minimalist geometric designs bring to mind a “record store vibe”, an atmosphere that veteran budtender Willy Christie actively tries to curate. “The difference is immediate when you walk in,” Willy reminisces, “I told myself I’d never do retail again. Literally said the words ‘I’m never Windexing a countertop ever again.’ But I was a brand ambassador doing demos across every dispensary in LA until I came here and… I knew I had to work here.”
To the left, there are equally minimalist and surprisingly tasteful apparel. In the center of the floor, long tables feature everything from premium accoutrements like modular titanium water pipes to leather and rum-scented MALIN+GOETZ candles. Even if this is all Greek to you, the place is designed to welcome the curious, something Willy is proud of. “We really tried to make this a place you could feel comfortable bringing your mom or your grandma. We’re happy to give them our full attention, baby them through every product.”
We really tried to make this a place you could feel comfortable bringing your mom or your grandma.
Willy continues, “but if you’re a vet, we also love to talk shop; what new strains are good, what’s making waves in the industry.” Which makes sense because as one of the few dispensaries with an in-house indoor cultivation center for their Fade Co. brand, the floor staff are uniquely qualified to discuss the ins-and-outs of what sets good flower apart from the best. Alex Brown, one of the managers, explains, “Everyone is working towards being the best dispensary in LA but it comes down to customer service and we make that our #1 priority.” The best part is, whether it’s due to their decidedly un-touristy location, their Fade Co. Friday deals, or their kickass first time patient deal, their price point is exceedingly reasonable. And as if that wasn’t enough, they also have their own delivery service, complete with huge service area and an incredibly convenient 25 minute delivery average. You can’t even get Postmates that quickly.
That’s not to say this part of the city doesn’t have activities or good fare to offer. On the contrary, Mid-City is home to two legendary Los Angeles staples. You’ve got the new flagship Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles location, started by a Harlem native Herb Hudson in 1975 when he wanted to bring good ol’ down home Southern soul food to this corner of the country. The classic Southern combo has been a quintessential cultural institution in LA ever since, sporting mentions in Rush Hour, Swingers, Tarantino’s Jackie Brown, and countless West Coast hip-hop songs.
But the real hidden gem is Leo’s Taco Truck. You know when you sit down to have an 8 dollar taco and it’s pretty good– but you think to yourself, “I bet there’s some taco truck at a gas station on a random street corner that blows this out of the water.” Well, this is that taco truck. Virtually across the street from The Pottery, perennially parked at the Sinclair on the corner of La Brea and Venice is this mythical taco truck. For an honestly criminal $1.50, the good people of Leo’s shave off a glistening, sumptuous portion of their al pastor spit, top it off with a pineapple piece and pop it on a fresh mini-tortilla. A tradition brought to Mexico from Lebanese immigrants, the eternally roasting, vertical spit, pineapple-and-pork combo is now a common sight among most Mexican cities, but Leo’s is LA’s preeminent ambassador of this serendipitous culinary remix that embodies what it means to be an Angeleno.