Forget those dainty cheese-and-cracker platters. The 24th Street Theatre, in the University Park enclave a mile from USC, welcomes audiences with hundreds of fresh, free, homemade tamales each year. The practice started 10 years ago as a way to entice Latino audiences to the bilingual playhouse's Spanish-language productions, and the fragrant tradition soon took hold. On a given night, you can take your pick of spicy chicken, pork or vegetarian options hand-wrapped in cornhusks by Maria, a woman from the neighborhood. Alongside a standing 24-cent ticket policy for local residents, the hearty snacks make the arts more accessible to the theater's working-class surroundings. More importantly, they give audiences an excuse to come early and linger late, basking in the warm, post–curtain call glow. 1117 W. 24th St., University Park, 90007. (213) 745-6516, —Jenny Lower

LA Weekly