As the final season of late director and screenwriter John Singleton’s critically acclaimed and semi-autobiographical series Snowfall draws to a close, a climax of drug lord sit-downs take place in some of L.A.’s most iconic urban eateries – a recurring theme throughout the series from the start.
Over the course of six seasons, the FX series has chronicled how an off-the-books CIA operation contributed to the destruction rock cocaine leveled upon South Central L.A. during the 1980s. Singleton co-wrote the screenplays for the first two episodes with series creators Eric Amadio and Dave Andron and directed the finales for the first two seasons. The family saga stars Damson Idris as Franklin Saint, a young drug dealer. It was one of the last projects Singleton worked on before his untimely death in April 2019.
Singleton, who at age 24 was the first Black American nominated for a best director Oscar in 1992 for Boyz n the Hood, was keenly familiar with some of L.A.’s most beloved places to eat. Whether it was Yamashiro in Hollywood or Sam’s Tacos in Boyle Heights, food was a universal language for Singleton who weaved L.A.’s culinary ethos throughout the series.
Season five had pivotal moments at Taylors’ Steakhouse in Koreatown, Tam’s Burgers #7, Tal’s Cafe in Hyde Park and the recently shuttered century-old Airliner bar in Lincoln Heights.
“One thing Snowfall gave me was my obsession with Hawkins House of Burgers, an amazing spot in Watts,” says actress Gail Bean, who plays Wanda opposite Isaiah John’s Leon in an integral storyline during the final season. “It’s an absolute must-have for me. It’s a staple in the community and for us to go and actually shoot at a black-owned burger joint that was there in the ’80s was so special. Every time somebody comes to visit I take them there.”
The final season is a whirlwind of sit-downs and explosive family confrontations filmed on location everywhere from Mr. Chow and The Boulevard Lounge inside the Beverly Wilshire in Beverly Hills to The Original Pantry downtown, Foster Freeze, Little Jewel of New Orleans, Jim Dandy Fried Chicken, Woody’s Bar-B-Que, The HMS Bounty in Koreatown and the since closed Hop Louie in Old Chinatown.
John, whose character most reflects Singleton on the show, fondly remembers culinary outings with the late producer and cast to some of his favorite haunts like Aduke Nigerian Cuisine in Inglewood.
“My favorite food is sushi,” says John, whose character travels to Ghana with wife Wanda this season to discover his own roots and find himself after growing up in a drug-infested housing project in Los Angeles. “I’ve been going to Sakana Sushi Lounge in downtown L.A. for years. It’s super fresh and the chefs are nice. They know who I am when I walk in the door and not because I’m on Snowfall.”
Both Georgia natives, it’s been a challenge for Bean to find that one southern food spot that’s hit her hometown palate yet.
“It was hard for me to find a really good wing place in L.A. after coming from Atlanta, but I absolutely fell in love with Hot Wings Cafe,” she says. “And Bludso’s is the best BBQ in town.”
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