History and Margaritas at El Pueblo de Los Angeles

Blessing of the animals, Mexican Consulate, Los Angeles
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One of the things I love about California is the profusion of different cultures: Chinese, Japanese and, of course, Mexican. I also take a perverse delight in ferreting out historical sites among the glass and concrete of the gleaming modern cities. So it’s no surprise that, on a return visit to Los Angeles, the first place I headed to was El Pueblo de Los Angeles. This is a thriving Mexican enclave and the oldest part of the city, packed full with historic buildings.

Blessing of the animals, Mexican Consulate, Los Angeles
A mural of the “Blessing of the Animals” outside the Mexican Consulate

Colonising Alta California

El Pueblo de Los Angeles dates back to the 18th century. The Spanish had started to colonise Alta California and in 1781 King Carlos III sent instructions that a new pueblo (town) was to be established in the area that is now Los Angeles. The story goes that eleven families congregated at the nearby San Gabriel Mission and marched to the new site accompanied by two priests and a military escort.

Avila Adobe
The Avila Adobe is the oldest surviving house in Los Angeles

Each family was given a plot of land to work and it was not long before other settlers came to join them and the town began to grow. The heart of the new settlement was Wine Street, known today as Olvera Street. Light industry soon developed here, along with houses, shops and restaurants, some of which still survive today.

Olvera Street, El Pueblo de Los Angeles
Olvera Street still has a number of historic buildings

Exploring El Pueblo de Los Angeles

Most visitors head to Olvera Street, with its vibrant market stalls and numerous shops and restaurants, where you can eat authentic Mexican food and drink several types of margarita. But there is lots more to see in this area, from the 19th century Iglesia de Nuestra Señora to a number of museums, including historic houses and the Old Plaza Firehouse (a museum of firefighting). Walk across the Old Plaza and don’t miss the Mexican Consulate, with its colourful mural of the Blessing of the Animals. (The Blessing of the Animals is one of many festivals that take place in El Pueblo each year.)

Olvera Street market, Los Angeles
Colourful goods for sale on an Olvera Street market stall

For us it was enough to wander around and enjoy the lively atmosphere of Olvera Street. We had a quick look at the Avila Adobe, built in 1818 and the earliest surviving house in Los Angeles. It has now been restored as an illustration of “the California lifestyle of the 1840s”. But then we went to another old building – La Golondrina, the oldest remaining brick house in Los Angeles and now a restaurant. I had tacos with fresh cactus and a pomegranate margarita. Great Mexican food in a historic setting – what more could I ask for?

Pomegranate margarita
Enjoying a pomegranate margarita at La Golondrina

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6 thoughts on “History and Margaritas at El Pueblo de Los Angeles”

  1. A pomegranate margarita: that sounds like heaven! El Pueblo de Los Angeles looks like the kind of place I’d enjoy exploring. My general impression of Los Angeles was not good at all, but I didn’t find El Pueblo. Thanks for showing us that it’s not all traffic and smog!

  2. I skipped past Los Angeles on my current road trip adventure because I just didn’t want to deal with the traffic but margaritas and El Pueblo de Los Angeles historic neighborhood could make up for the traffic jungle…will think about visiting on my next spin through the California coast.

  3. Betsy Wuebker

    I lived in LA for several years in the 80s and never made it to El Peublo. What a shame! And a great excuse to visit the city again with new eyes.

  4. It’s been awhile since I visited this enclave and historic area. Need to go back and have an nice authentic meal in some of those fantastic eateries.

  5. I grew up in LA and remember visiting Olvera Street as part of a field trip (along with Knotts Berry Farm, the Starkist Tuna Factory and the La Brea Tar Pits!) so your post was a fun trip down memory lane. I love the culture of Mexico and especially its fabulous food. Good Mexican food is one of the few things I really miss living in Portugal – Doritos just don’t cut it!

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About Karen

WorldWideWriter is owned and managed by Karen Warren. I have been writing and travelling for many years (almost 60 countries at the last count). I’ve visited every continent except Antarctica (I still hope to get there one day…), and my current favourite destinations are Italy, Spain and North America. This website is my attempt to inform and inspire other travellers, and to share some of the things I’ve discovered along the way.

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