The 18th edition of the Great Los Angeles Walk returns on Saturday, November 18, 2023! (Always the Saturday before Thanksgiving.) Details to come.
To join in, just EMAIL US at or check out our Facebook page:

Make sure you're on the email list! And check back here for more details!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

One Last Word: "Pico and Sepulveda"

A number of Great Los Angeles Walkers have referenced this song, by Felix Figueroa and His Orchestra, from the film "Forbidden Zone." One group of walkers even paused at the intersection last Saturday to view this video off YouTube. Here ya go... one more Pico mention, in song!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Pico Boulevard, Conquered!

(UPDATED Monday morning with new links to more recaps and pics! If you've written something up or posted pics, let me know, and I'll add you to the roster!)

My legs are sore. Blisters are forming on a few toes. I could use more sleep.

Yet I can't wait for next year.

The Second Annual Great Los Angeles Walk took on Pico Boulevard on Saturday. More than 70 people joined me as we hiked nearly 16 miles, from the historic Coca Cola Bottling Plant (at the corner of Pico and Central) straight to the ocean in Santa Monica.

Not all 70 walked the entire way... but at least 40 did. (Others joined late, left early, or had some help along the way.) Great Los Angeles Walkers who made it from end-to-end got to experience, along the way, the bustling (even at 9 in the morning) fashion district; the Convention Center (currently home to the Auto Show); the Central American-dominated Byzantine-Latino Quarter; the city's shortest street (Powers Place); the beautiful old homes of Alvarado Terrace; a slice of Koreatown; the gut-busting food of spots like Oki-Dog and Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles; the sight of a massive crane that tipped over (smashing the roof of a yoga studio) in Mid-City; the closed (for the Sabbath) Jewish shops and restaurants west of Fairfax; the Fox lot; dodging golf balls next to the Rancho Park golf course; the cool ocean breeze once we hit Santa Monica; and much more. One group even stood by to help as a homeless man fell and required an ambulance.

Some pics of sights on Pico:

And they're off!

The shortest street in Los Angeles: Powers Place. Yes, that cobblestone stretch is the entire street. And yes, that's next year's Great Los Angeles Walk, which will take place from 9 a.m. to 9 a.m.

Beautiful homes on Alvarado Terrace -- at least the ones, like this, that weren't stuccoed at some point.

Scarface watches over Pico

Arnold Schwarzenegger: Exist. Poofy.

"Sorry, no physicians are currently on duty. Consume this pastrami burrito at your own risk."

There it is -- the grease bomb known as Oki-Dog's pastrami burrito.

Oops. Pico was shut down between La Brea and Fairfax because of this mishap, but the cops still let us hike on the sidewalk.

"City of Los Angeles -- Made in Mexico"

Winner, worst pun on Pico

One group of walkers, hitting the ocean around 5:10. (Another group made it earlier, while a third group made it there around 5:30.)

The walk began around 9:15 a.m.; we broke for lunch around noon and hit back up at 1:30 (although some had resumed by 1); and the first crowd made it to the end by 4:45, which the majority arriving by 5:10. Victory jerk chicken enchiladas (not to mention booze purchased on the way at the Santa Monica Trader Joe's) was consumed at Cha Cha Chicken, near the finish line.

I'll be posting walker accounts (and their photos) as they hit online. An early list of recaps:

  • Will Campbell's recap and his 165 pics (including the one above, of the crowd taking off at the Coca-Cola Bottling Plant).

  • Scott Trimble's recap and his photo gallery (including the one above, of the Byzantine-Latino Quarter).

  • Atwater Village Newbie's take on Favorite Pico guy here and his large collection of photos (including the one above, of a crazy row of mannequins in the garment district) here.

  • Check out Don Hosek's amazingly detailed post about the walk; Don has a lot of info especially about Pico on the west side. And check out some of his pics (including that shot of the ocean at 5:30) here.

  • N at Pico and the Man has a nice wrap up here (including the pic above).

  • Raul says the walk reminded him "that there are innumerable wonderful people who make up this city who truly and proudly call themselves Angelenos." Check out his recap here and his pics (including the one above) here.

  • Great recap here by Davey G., who, I'm jealous to say, stopped at El Parian to try one of the birria tacos (something I'll have to do on another trek to Pico!). Check out his full photo set (including the shot of a tortilla worker at El Parian, above) here.

  • Meeko and SeanYoda have some great pics here, and have also started a Great Los Angeles Flickr pool for everyone to deposit their pics here.

  • Check out Graham -- G12 The Outsider -- and his writeup here and some pics (including the cool B&W shot above, of someone filling up their stationwagon with junk from a recycling bin) here.

  • Joni had a lot to do on Saturday... but decided to chuck it all and join us instead! Glad she did; here's her post from the day.

  • Yeah, not so sure I'm ready to do it again next week, but I may just join other walks being planned for the future. And don't forget to clear the Saturday before Thanksgiving next year, for the third Great Los Angeles Walk!

    One more note: I'm still figuring out why the Great LA Walk T-shirts aren't appearing on Cafe Press. I'll let you know when that issue is resolved.

    Now, head over to Franklin Avenue, where we've got a great recap by walker Margaret Cherry! And more to come.

    Friday, November 16, 2007

    The Great LA Walk Happens Tomorrow!

    In case you haven't yet, check out the FAQ here.

    Some additional info:

    Unfortunately, I didn't hear from enough interested bus riders for it to make financial sense; ultimately, only about 10 or so of you could firmly say yes, but that would have made it $30 each -- and that was too steep for some of the 10. So I've had to scrap plans for a return bus... but I know several of you are researching MTA options; hopefully carpooling, friends, etc. can also help with return trips. Now, if I suddenly hear from 30 of you that you still are interested in a bus at $10/pop, I can still see Friday if I can rent one (no guarantees).

    OK, now the fun stuff. You've probably seen the list of recommended Pico eateries from Jonathan Gold on the blog; obviously, we can't eat at 'em all... but we'll try to hit a few of them. (Or, hell, you're welcome to try 'em all! You're gonna be walking it all off anyway.)

    Also, if you're interested in walking just half way, in joining us along the way, in dropping in and out as you explore Pico at your own pace, it's totally cool. This is a very loosely-organized walk, you can do as much or as little as you want.

    Lunch: Because we can't judge how fast/slow the pack of walkers will be going, it's tough to tell where we'll be around noon. When we do break, walkers will choose where they want to eat on their own (we'll make sure to break close to several eating options). We'll break for 90 minutes, then pick up the walk where we left off.

    Be sure to bring your cell phone, in case you lose the group. Or if you're joining late.

    Finally, a word to the wise: We're gonna be out there a big portion of the day. Sunscreen, sunglasses, hats and white T-shirts (not to mention tennis shoes) will keep you from regretting it later. Plus, if we're all in white shirts, it will more easily identify us.

    Any more questions, feel free to email. We'll see you Saturday morning at 9!

    Thursday, November 15, 2007

    Two Days Until the Walk: Eating Down Pico

    (Flickr pic of birria taco at El Parian by larryleenyc.)

    Before we all embark on the Great Los Angeles Walk this Saturday, here's some required reading: Jonathan Gold's recap of he year he ate down Pico Boulevard.

    He writes:

    Sunset may have more famous restaurants, La Brea better restaurants and Melrose more restaurants whose chairs have nestled Mira Sorvino’s gently rounded flanks. No glossy magazine has ever suggested Pico as an emerging hot street; no real estate ad has ever described a house as Pico-adjacent. The street plays host to the unglamorous bits of Los Angeles, the row of one-stops that supply records to local jukeboxes, the kosher-pizza district, the auto-body shops that speckle its length the way giant churches speckle Wilshire. And while Pico may divide neighborhoods more than it creates them — Koreatown from Harvard Heights, Wilshire Center from Midtown, Beverly Hills–adjacent from not-all-that-Beverly-Hills-adjacent, neighborhoods your cousin Martha lives in from neighborhoods she wouldn’t step into after dark — there isn’t even a Pico-identified gang.

    But precisely because Pico is so unremarked, because it is left alone like old lawn furniture moldering away in the side yard of a suburban house, it is at the center of entry-level capitalism in central Los Angeles, and one of the most vital food streets in the world.

    Indeed. It was partly Gold's gradual eating trek down Pico in his 20s that inspired me to pick Pico for this year's walk.

    So, of course, I had to contact the Pulitzer Prize-winning scrbe. To my pleasant surprise, he emailed back quickly, and even said he read Franklin Avenue! I managed to pick his brain on a few spots we should all consider trying once everyone's bellies start growling. A selection:

  • El Salvador Cafe. 575 E. Pico

  • El Parian. 1528 W. Pico ("I went on record in 1990 claiming that El Parian’s birria was the single best Mexican dish in Los Angeles, and nothing in the thousand L.A. Mexican meals I have eaten since then has done anything to sway me from that belief," Gold wrote in 2006)

  • La 27th Restaurante Familar. 1830 W. Pico (Nicaraguan food -- Gold suggests "nacatamals and fritanga").

  • El Colmao. 2328 W. Pico (Cuban food -- Gold suggests "fried pork leg with onions).

  • Las 7 Regiones de Oaxaca. 2648 W. Pico. ("It is Las 7 Regiones’ coloradito, its version of one of the famous seven moles of Oaxaca, that is a really remarkable concoction — thick and dense and sweet-hot and unctuous, the product of hours of labor and probably 20-odd toasted seeds and chiles and spices," Gold writes.)

  • Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles. 5006 W. Pico. ("Roscoe’s is the Carnegie Deli of L.A.’s R&B scene," Gold wrote in an old review.)

  • Oki-Dog. 5056 W. Pico. (Go for the pastrami burritos, Gold says.)

  • Magic Carpet. 8566 W. Pico. (Gold once wrote that he used to live close by: " if I had tasted Magic Carpet's melawach back then, I might never have moved - a bronzed, pizza-size fried Yemenite pancake that seems to have a hundred levels of wheatiness, a thousand layers of crunch and the taste of clean oil, melawach is one of the greatest dishes in Los Angeles.")

  • Twin Dragon. 8597 W. Pico. (Gold admits that he likes some of the Shanghaiese dishes here, writing a few years back: "Although the kitchen is perfectly capable of turning out dishes stunning only in their mediocrity, some of the truly Shanghainese dishes -- smoked fish, round steamed dumplings, shredded pork sautéed with salted vegetables -- are fine.")

  • Pico Kosher Deli. 8826 W. Pico. (Gold recommends the pastrami sandwiches, and wrote in 2004 about its "PLT" -- like a BLT, but with pastrami.)

  • John O'Groats. 10516 W. Pico. ("Smoked pork chops," Gold recommends.)

  • Pico Teriyaki House. 10610 W. Pico. (Gold notes it's nearly impossible to get in, so it's not a spot to visit during our hike. But for future reference, he says try the robatayaki.)

  • Torafuku. 10914 W. Pico. (Their izakaya dishes are a little too pricy for he hike, but Gold named it one of L.A.'s 99 essential restaurants in 2005.)

  • That's it for now-- "Man, it's a long street. I'll try and think of some others," he writes. Thanks to Jonathan Gold for sharing his insight on eating down Pico!

    Wednesday, November 14, 2007

    Some MTA Advice for Saturday

    Great LA Walker Will Campbell did some research for those of you interested in taking the MTA back to the start of the walk...

    I took a look on and found the best way back would be aboard the No. 720 "rapid" bus running from Colorado and Ocean (maybe even Pico and Ocean, if I'm readying the bus' route map correctly) in Santa Monica all the way 6th and Central downtown. The schedule states there's an eastbound 720 bus that runs about every 10 minutes between 5:30 p.m. and midnight and the travel time is probably somewhere around 75 minutes.

    If you put out any additional updates you might want to suggest that any walkers planning on returning via the MTA park their cars in the neighborhood of Sixth and Central to minimize any additional after-the-bus walking. In other words, I'd rather park there and walk in the morning light down Central to the Coke building than park down at the Coke building in the morning and have to get off the bus and walk down there to get back to my car after dark.

    But for better or worse the area around 6th and Central is mainly industrialized on the eastern fringes of skid row with street parking but little in the way of supervised lot parking, so maybe people wanting the added security of off-street parking should park at lots along 6th Street through downtown and plan to get off the bus accordingly. They should make sure the lots are open late at night though!

    Thanks, Will!

    Saturday, November 10, 2007

    The Great Los Angeles Walk FAQ

    Go here for just about everything you need to know about the walk.

    UPDATE: One Week Until the Great Los Angeles Walk!

    Hi all -- hope you're getting your feet ready for our 15 mile jaunt down Pico!

    Now, some info:

    1. I haven't heard from enough of you yet about whether you want to rent a bus to take you back downtown. The price overall is $300; I figure we'd need at least 10 people (at $30 a pop) to make it reasonable. If you want to join in, email me by Monday... the bus people have to know by Tuesday. If there's not enough takers, then everyone may have to figure out the return trip (MTA, I guess) on their own.

    2. We've got a spot for the party! Cha Cha Chicken happens to be right there at the end of Pico in Santa Monica -- so it's perfect. What's more, they can accomodate all of us, PLUS it's BYOB, so if anyone wants to celebrate with a little booze, it's completely allowed.

    3. If you drop out of the walk but still want to return for the party, just hope down to Cha Cha Chicken (at Pico and Ocean in Santa Monica). I assume we'll be there no later than 6.

    4. If we do rent the bus, I'm guessing it will probably leave for downtown by 8... we need to cushion in that time in case we're running late and bus riders want to still have dinner with us.

    5. If you can't meet us right at the start line, simply wait for us further down on Pico. When you see a big crowd walking down Pico for no real reason, that's us!

    6. Please spread the word this week -- on your blog, to friends, etc. LA Weekly is doing a blurb on the walk, and Thrillist is doing a write-up for its daily email.

    7. T-shirts are on sale! Unfortunately, they won't be ready until after the walk is over. But if you want to buy one (there's no markup, we're not making a dime off it), go to our Cafe Press store: There, you'll see a couple of different shirt styles with the cool Great Los Angeles Walk logo designed by Maria.

    8. Keep checking the website for info!

    9. See you Saturday, 9 am at Pico and Central, in front of the Coca-Cola Bottling Plant building!

    Thursday, November 8, 2007

    Bus Info: Let Us Know Soon If You Want To Join In

    Hey Walkers,

    American Transportation Systems, which operates the bus that the Esotouric folk use, is up for providing a bus back to downtown for anyone stranded in Santa Monica after the walk.

    The price: $300.

    Of course, the more of you up for this option, the cheaper it will be. The catch: Enough of you have to choose this option *prior* to the walk, so that we can confirm the bus. So let me know ASAP if you're interested by emailing here BY MONDAY; I'll then let all of you know on Tuesday if it's a real possibility.

    One other tidbit: Some of you have noted that the historic Coca-Cola Bottling Plant at Pico and Central is a bit out of the way, and also not close to a decent bus option.

    No prob, here's the simple solution: Hit the portion of Pico downtown that is easiest for you. Then wait for the crowd of Great LA Walkers -- I imagine we'll be past downtown by 10 am, so you won't be waiting long. Just be sure you find me, Mike, when you join the line so we can add you to the list!

    Any more questions, feel free to email!

    Sunday, November 4, 2007

    Details, Details, Details!

    Here it is... the info on where the walk will begin, and what time:

    The Great Los Angeles Walk takes place starting at 9 a.m. on Nov. 17 at the corner of E. Pico and S. Central Ave. Most importantly, that's at the landmark Coca-Cola Bottling Plant -- the Streamline Moderne building shaped like a cruise ship (above).

    Meet right in front of the Coca-Cola building, and allow yourself plenty of time -- we're leaving at 9 a.m. sharp!

    There isn't much right there by way of pre-walk food, other than a McDonalds and Burger King close to Olympic. But we'll be passing by plenty of great spots to grab food along the way.

    What's more, Pulitzer Prize-winning food writer Jonathan Gold is passing along a list of Pico restaurants we can't miss -- all the more reason to come join us on Nov. 17!

    P.S. Don't forget, if you're already on the email list, to make sure we're deemed OK and not seen as spam!

    Thursday, November 1, 2007

    "Picoesque," by Michelle Shocked

    Across the street they're raising wolves
    And it don't take much to make them cry
    A fire truck or a car alarm
    Police drive by with their sirens on
    And suddenly they're running with the pack
    And remembering the call of the wild
    They cry ooo ooo

    Pastor Leon, he's the neighbor to my right
    Twice on Sunday and every week night
    He cranks up the PA, his wife is the choir
    And they start preaching like a house on fire
    And then his wife gets happy and begins to shout
    Allelujah Allelujah! and then they all fall out
    They cry Allelujah! Glorio! Glorio de Dios!

    Baby pull on your old Dan Posts
    Fire up that old GTO
    And take me on a little ride down Pico

    Now you're riding down Pico Boulevard and for the first time
    You notice how many churches
    Foursquare Baptist Catholic Cathedrals
    Buddhist Temples Synagogues Mosques
    Keith Dominion COGIC Pentacost
    Iglesias de Cristos Iglesias de Dios and the
    Sweet (swear to God) Aroma of Jesus

    Down by the hardware store men are pitching pennies
    Or standing by the paint store dressed in white
    Or waiting by their trucks to hire for haul
    Or collecting cans in shopping carts
    Or carrying guitars and accordions
    Into cantinas and restaurants

    Or selling onramp oranges or offramp roses
    Or ringing bells for 'paletas' 'raspados'
    Or standing by a pay telephone
    With a baby carriage and a beeper on
    With last night's sermon still ringing in my ear
    Allelujah! Allelujah! Don't despair....