Best Meeting Place to Question Authority - 2011
Even before the Los Angeles Times investigation into Bell City Manager Robert Rizzo's million-dollar salary led to the arrest of Rizzo and his seven alleged conspirators, the 90 percent Latino population needed a place to organize to reclaim their town. El Tacazo, a bright, family-owned Mexican restaurant, was that haven for the Bell Residents Club. And once City Hall was flushed of its key perpetrators, community meetings became crucial to undoing the slimy culture the Bell Eight left behind. Last winter, City Council candidate Nestor Valencia showed off a long meeting room in the back, where dozens of neighbors hatched a strategy for getting out the vote. Rizzo and the politicians, Valencia recalls, "thought we were meeting in my garage, but my garage got too small." He recommends the molcajetes at El Tacazo, which serves heaping plates for about $6. A grassroots movement has to eat, after all. No fees or reservations required for big groups. "Sometimes when you gotta meet, you gotta meet today," Valencia says. No one knows that better than Bell. 4148 Florence Ave., Bell. (323) 771-2118.
Best Horror Celeb Art MuseumVincent Price, who appeared in 105 movies and has three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, is best known for his ghoulish performances. But the St. Louis–born, Yale-educated actor, gourmet cook, "gray-listed" activist and art collector also was, unbeknownst to most Angelenos, responsible for one of the city's first public art institutions. After accepting an invitation to visit the modest art program at East Los Angeles College, Price was so impressed by the multicultural, working-class student body that he and his wife donated 90 pieces — then valued at more than $5 million — to the campus. Opening in 1957, the Vincent Price Art Museum now boasts a permanent collection of more than 9,000 pieces (many donated by the artists themselves) and recently reopened in new and modern digs. Not surprisingly, numerous ELAC students have enjoyed illustrious art careers of their own, and Director Karen Rapp ensures this "teaching art" museum takes into account the rich "artistic and cultural legacy" of the area. 1301 Avenida Cesar Chavez, Monterey Park. (323) 265-8841, vincentpriceartmuseum.org.