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HEALTH's John Famiglietti Hated LA Until He Moved to Echo Park

John tells us where to find the best tacos in the city and where we can drink at 6 AM.

In honor of our new VICE Guide to Los Angeles, we asked some LA-based musicians and artists to act as our virtual tour guides and fill us in on their favorite spots in the city. This time, we hit up John Famiglietti, bassist for LA's legendary noise band HEALTH, to talk restaurants and dive bars and why he loves Echo Park.

VICE: How did you end up on the Eastside?
John Famiglietti: I'm from San Diego, I moved to LA as soon as I could and like most people who move to LA, made the mistake of moving to Hollywood. I hated the city until I moved to Echo Park, where I've been ever since.


Where are some of your favorite places to shop?
OAK and the Well (downtown). Both are purveyors of delightful wacky ass clothes that are mighty expensive, so I'd wait for a sale.

If someone who has never been on the Eastside decides they want to check it out, what are the "must visit" spots?
LA is not the greatest tourist town, however Echo Park in Echo Park is a great park. I love it. Some entertainment highlights in downtown are LA Gun Club (Indoor pistol range) and MAX (Karaoke with private rooms, you can drink there until 4 AM). Both great date spots.

Let's talk food! What are your favorite food spots on the Eastside?
My favorite un-Mexican restaurants are Kazu Nori—incredible sushi hand rolls from the people who do Sugartits downtown with insanely low prices; it will blow your dick off— Pho Cafe in Silver Lake, and Gigo's Pho in Chinatown. Best pho in the city.

Favorite dive bar?
The most notorious dive bar in the area would be the Drawing Room in Los Feliz. It opens at 6 AM and is always packed with the true degenerates who are just leaving the after-hours.

My favorite, though, would have to be Smog Cutter in East Hollywood, even though I'm kind of cheating on location here. It's a dive with a rock 'n' roll flavor and seriously jank-ass fun karaoke on the weekends.

What's the best place to go for a good cup of coffee or tea?
I have no love for coffee, but I have an undying passion for green tea. A-Market in Echo Park sells the finest Chinese Green Tea: 100 bags for four bucks.


Who is your favorite neighborhood character?

That would be the Captain, an extremely charming homeless man that was kind of the "mayor" of the neighborhood. His health began to degenerate and he died publicly on the sidewalk a few years ago. It was very sad.

This interview has been edited and condensed.


HEALTH's 24-Hour Guide to Mexican Eats in Echo Park and Nearby Breakfast
Mom's Tamales (8:30 AM – 4PM )
The fresh tamales usually sell out by noon, but all the food is extremely good for taco truck prices. This is the most sophisticated, subtle chile relleno you've ever had.

Llamarada (8 AM – 5:30 PM)
Very authentic Mexican breakfast spot. Locals only. The tastes are different than you might expect. Can't promise you'll love it, but the machaca and chile relleno are excellent.

Birreria de Don Boni (8:30 AM – 8 PM)
My favorite go-to spot. The record might skip when you walk in, but the goat will blow you away. They do not serve rice, beans, or anything that's not goat.

Guisados (10 AM – 10:30 PM)
This and Cacao in Eagle Rock are part of a new wave of great places I call "authentic white man Mexican food" (Not exactly true. I met the owner, but whatever). This type of places is a lot pricier (comparatively) to the other spots listed here, and its a different vibe. No grease, but its still really good and most people you know would like this place the best. Still recommended.


Dinner and Beyond
Raul's (La Reyna) (6 PM – 12 AM)
The best tacos in LA. Raul and his mother operate this stand on the corner of 7th and Mateo downtown in front of defunct restaurant La Reyna. Three Michelin stars.

Taco Zone (8:30 PM – 2 AM)
Taco Zone revolutionized Echo Park as the standard by which all other taco trucks would be judged. Still great. The quality is not as consistent as its glory days, but its a must eat.

El Flaming Asshole (8:30 PM – 3 AM)
El Flaming Asshole is really special in that it's a top-tier taco truck that offers LA and San Diego-style Mexican food. All excellent. They even combine the two with a pastrami California burrito. Try it sometime. It's just as good as Taco Zone.

El Gran Burrito a.k.a. Midnite Tacos (3 AM – 8 AM)
In the old days, this was the spot, but now it's completely obsolete in the age of Taco Zone and El Flaming Asshole, but if its between 3 – 8 AM, you have no choice but to walk down memory lane.

Check out more from the VICE Guide to Los Angeles.