Christy and Paul 2013

A year without internet, media and junkfood. Lord, help us.

Category: Reasons to Live in LA

Reason #33 to Live & Die in Los Angeles (In No Particular Order): Vallarta


Also known as Vallarta Supermarket and Carniceria Vallarta, VALLAAAARRTTTAAAAA is a Latino supermarket chain. The first Vallarta opened its door (I assume it was only one door, since the whole place was only 1,000 ft^2) in 1985 to the citizens of sunny, porny Van Nuys, CA.

Big, Beautiful Vallarta.

Big, Beautiful Vallarta

The owner, Enrique Gonzalez Sr., grew up on a small subsistence farm in Jalisco, Mexico. He immigrated to the US in the 1960s under a guest worker program, and worked in the fields harvesting asparagus and tomatoes. In 1974, he opened a bar called La Cabaña with $2,000 ($10,000 in today’s worthless money) he’d saved from a 14-year stint at Corky’s restaurant. After the bar came a nightclub called Puerto Vallarta (guess where Vallarta got its name), and when PV burned down, Gonzalez decided to rent out the space instead of re-opening the club, and used the rent money to start his first grocery store.

VegeTable... Yeah, I Just Came Up With That

VegeTable… Yeah, I Just Came Up With That

Although the small store got off to a slow start, often taking in a mere $15 a day, the first Vallarta began to generate a profit in 1986, and with the help of his four brothers, Gonzalez opened another location in San Fernando Valley: “The key to success is that the profits of the business have to be reinvested in it.” The family capitalized on serving the growing Hispanic community of Los Angeles, which, whew… Apple stock and Vallarta in 1985, amiright? No. Apple’s share price on May 31, 1985 was $1.98. ONE DOLLAR AND NINETY-EIGHT-BUTT-FUDGING CENTS! I wasn’t born yet, and I had no money. What is YOUR excuse?


Strawberries, Cilantro, Tomatoes, Limes, Kale, Green Onions, Radishes, MEGA YAM y uno Mamey Dulce.

^^($16.78 for Everything on this Table, $12.84 if you don’t count the fancy Mamey.)^^

Anyway, they got 41 stores now. We go there a lot. The meat section always smell nasty to me, but I still buy carnitas, chicharróns, and goat birria from the taqueria. Buy that shit up… And I buy meat when it’s too cheap to refuse (99¢/lb chicken breast? Damn you, Vallarta!). Eh, just cook it that day, you’ll be fine.

At $3.49/lb, this Mamey Dulce might have been the most expensive produce at Vallarta

At $3.49/lb, this Mamey Dulce might have been the most expensive produce at Vallarta

Plus, you get to try new shtuff all the whenever you build up the nerve. This ^fruit^ up ^here^ is soft and salmon colored on the inside, and apparently tastes like sweet potato, pumpkin, cherry and almonds. I… will post.

And, if you’re interested, here are some lovely receipts:


2lbs Strawberries + 3.5lbs Tomatoes + 2.5lb Yam + 2 Bunches of Kale + 4 Bunches of Green Onions = $9!!!

photo 2

Went Back in for Carnitas and had to get Mamey and Taco Fixins

photo 4

One Pound of Carnitas and a Big Ass Mamey Agua Fresca

Fuck couponing for 12 packs of soda! The CRV will always make it a bad deal! Buy produce, don’t be stuck up about it being organic, and get on to living healthier and cheaper (no tax on groceries, but that’s another post).



Reason #67 To Live & Die in Los Angeles (In No Particular Order): Wing Hop Fung


While not the best-known green leaf in LA, high-quality, loose-leaf tea at low-low prices is a wonderful privilege of those who choose to live along these God-forsaken fault lines.

Beautiful Hondeydew Sencha Green Tea

Beautiful Hondeydew Sencha Green Tea

Boring Story Part:

[If the South deprived me of anything growing up, it was the wide-world of real tea. Hating sweet tea is one of my earliest memories! I was 2 or 3, scooping small cups of powdered “fake tea” from a yellow Lipton cylinder and wondering how crappy real tea must have been if fake tea was this bad.

It really does taste like honeydew!

It really does taste like honeydew!

Then, a couple of months ago, while still in the heat of my Starbucks-every day routine, I decided to start drinking tea, partially to reduce the butt-load of sugar I was consuming in sweetened coffee-drinks, and also because the extreme intake of caffeine was starting to make me a little loopy. So, I eased myself in with Green Tea Lattes, then pushed on through to a brief period of sweetened green teas (brief because of how bad sweetened green tea is) and finally, I made it to unsweetened iced green teas. I also joined the Starbucks rewards program because you get free refills on iced teas (provided you stay on the premises)! So, if you’re doing work at Starbucks, you’d be a fool not to get with the program!

From Starbucks, I moved on to drinking cheap tea bags from SUNLAND PRODUCE, then, to loose-leaf black tea from India, and finally, Silky Green loose leaf tea from Wing Hop Fung in Chinatown. ]

End Boring Story Part

I was a little shocked by the prices at Wing Hop Fung. Some teas are upwards of $600/lb (most are around $40-70/lb), but because of the quality of the tea, you can get 8-15 steepings (except black teas, but I re-steep them anyway). Two teaspoons is enough for two people to drink tea all day. Now, compare that with LA’s most famous green at $5,200/lb (usually only good for one “steeping”), and tea is basically free! Hooray!

Our most expensive tea to date. Noticeably better than our $50-60 oolongs.

Our most expensive tea to date. Noticeably better than our $50-60 oolongs.

My only advice to first-time Wing Hoppers is not to buy cheap ($40/lb) Pu-er. It’s not worth it, man! Just save up your money and buy the fancy stuff.

Fun Fact #1: Tea bags are usually filled with fannings (or tea dust) that have been swept off of tea factory floors. I mean, what’s the difference between crumbled up outdoor leaf dust and dirt/human hair, really?

Fun Fact #2: The bacteria sprayed onto Pu-er is a Chinese national secret.

Fun Fact #3: Chinese tea is far superior to Japanese tea. There, I said it! Whatwhut?! You got a problem with that? Bring it!

Fun Fact #4: Sweet tea still tastes like ass to me. Oh, we’re offendin’ everybody up in chya!