We had a lovely meal at Casita Mexicana this last week, courtesy of one of the owners, who is the neighbor of a friend of mine. The mole was just excellent, along with the stuffed peppers with cream and a flap steak dish.
It is completely worth a trip out to Bell, and if you drive through Vernon, you will also get to see the Farmer John slaughterhouse pig murals, which I have been meaning to take a look at ever since reading about them in LA Bizarro.
Since we were going for dinner, we took surface streets on the way there. The route took us through the “real” South Central, which I will say parenthetically, looked pretty OK to me. We also crossed through Huntington Park, one of the many little cities inside LA that along with Bell, Vernon, Cudahy and City of Industry, I really do not understand the purpose of. Why are there all these little cities of 36,000 residents (or 777) in the middle of the metropolis? A lazy-man’s jaunt through Wikipedia leads me to believe that in most cases, someone rich bought a lot of land, started a proto-suburb (this was before there were suburbs, proper, so these were more like semi-rural towns near LA), and incorporated it as a city. In some cases the city boundary marked a color line, such as with Huntington Park, which was a all-white city next to South Central.
All of this conspires to make the city of LA a very weird shape.
On our way through South Central, my husband commented that LA could accommodate a lot more people. This is a somewhat contrarian view, but indeed, there are big swathes of LA filled with cheaply-constructed 1-story buildings, which could be replaced with multi-story condos.
I think that eventually, if LA continues to grow, we will all be taking the subway everywhere, simply because all the highways and surface streets will be in perpetual gridlock. (I drove up Western to Larchmont Village yesterday and, as usual, was reminded that I hate, hate, hate traffic. Free wireless and power at Le Pain Quotidien made up for it, though.) At that point, the busses aren’t even going to help, so we had better hope all these proposed subways and trains go through.