Intelatin: Food + Music in Los Angeles With Wil-Dog

Wil-Dog, left, eats a taco at Jimmy Shaw’s Lotería Grill on Hollywood Boulevard

Wil-Dog, right, eats a taco at Jimmy Shaw’s Lotería Grill on Hollywood Boulevard

Willy “Wil-Dog” Abers discovered his community in MacArthur Park as a child borne to communists in the labor movement. Forty years later, as a musician in the band Ozomatli​, Wil Dog has been able to dissect Los Angeles from a very unique perspective as both a musician and also as a recovering addict and alcoholic. On the 20th anniversary of Ozomatli’s birth in Los Angeles, Wil-Dog will tour the city and its offerings to see what he understands about his home.

There are close to four million people living in Los Angeles in 503 square miles. Los Angeles is the second largest city in the United States and the third largest metropolitan economy in the world. Malibu in the north and Long Beach in the south. Santa Monica in the west and Pasadena in the east.

“The culture that has most influenced me in Los Angeles is the Mexican culture,” Wil-Dog says. “Close to fifty percent of present-day LA is originally from Mexico or Latin America. Los Angeles is the ancestral home to the Indigenous cultures of the Americas but soon thereafter the mestizos came north and created what has become the modern version of LA.”

In Los Angeles, in San Diego, in Valle de Guadalupe in Baja California, in Monterrey, Nuevo León, even in New York City: the star of Mexican food — the taco — has laid itself flat this year and evolved. Chefs everywhere are forgoing the traditional asada, pastor and carnitas of the past and venturing into more adventurous ingredients. Lalo Plascencia of the Center for Gastronomic Innovation in Monterrey, México has initiated a project called #1000tacos2015 to document and showcase this star of Mexican cuisine.

“Con este video se apoya el proyecto #1000tacos2015 del Centro de Innovación Gastronómica, en Monterrey, México,” Lalo explains. “Se trata de la mayor acumulación de tacos de la historia de la cocina mexicana. Apoya este proyecto subiendo tus tacos a Instagram con el #1000tacos2015 para que se publiquen en Storify.

Wil-Dog begins his tour in the belly of Hollywood at Jimmy Shaw’s flagship Lotería Grill on Hollywood Boulevard. Born in the colonia Hipódromo in Mexico City, Jimmy Shaw was raised on la comida de batalla in his parent’s kitchen. While he was educated in Pennsylvania, he began his career as a private chef to pay for his tuition. In time, he relocated to Los Angeles and while working for La Agencia de Orcí, he experienced a bad plate of tacos and decided that he would open a restaurant. Today, Jimmy Shaw has eight restaurants in Los Angeles. The Tres Cochinitos taco is a mezcla de tocino, chicharrón y carnitas.

Special thanks to Grimanesa, Tatiana y Betty at Lotería Grill and Damon, María y Belle at Ozomatli.

The latest Ozomatli release is called Place in the Sun. It is available on iTunes. Here are links to their Sizzle Reel and also to a single from the new album called “Tus Ojos.”


About Intelatin: The radio broadcast for Intelatin was started in 2012 at California State University Long Beach as outreach for their majority Latin@ campus. The broadcast aired on KBeach Global and KKJZ 88.1 FM. It podcasts in 2015 on iTunes and Audioboom. Intelatin is managed by Sergio C. Muñoz. You can connect with him @Intelatin.