The Los Angeles area loosely bracketed by Robertson Blvd and MacArthur Park, just above a stretch of Santa Monica's 10 freeway, is known today as Mid-City, but that's a new designation. Up until about 2000, the neighborhood existed within the kind of colloquial, unofficial boundaries that defined so many of L.A.'s amorphous enclaves. Mid-City's rebranding is part of a larger trend of upscaling and renovation sweeping across the city as a whole, stretching from the coast to Downtown L.A.'s infamous Skid Row.
Djavan Santos, bka WeDidIt producer and Shlohmo bandmate D33J, grew up off of Washington and Crenshaw, in the middle of Mid-City. "For a long time [the area] didn't have any identity," he's tells The FADER over the phone from the WeDidIt office space. "Now people call it Mid-City but before it was just this weird zone with no name." The new nomenclature has ushered in an influx of new residents into what Santos characterizes as "this weird little ethnic pocket in South L.A."
Santos still lives in Mid-City, as does his family, and he remembers growing up there fondly. "I never had any issues. It was just me and all of my Mexican neighbors playing soccer in the streets. It was a really nice vibe growing up." We asked D33J to talk us through the old-school neighborhood with the new name, and he did us one better, giving us a run-through of his five essential haunts.
Close up Barber and Beauty Salon
D33J: My braid spot is called Close up Barber Shop and it's 200 feet from my parents house. The lady and guy who cut my hair there are named Sugar and Rick. I like to get braided while I'm on tour because it gives you a chance to explore different parts of the city you wouldn't usually go. Close up is a classic barbershop, there are people hanging out all the time, all these ladies talking shit. I get to hear all of this neighborhood drama I'm not really a part of, but it's a good experience for an hour while I'm there. It's super fun.
4563 W Washington Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90016
Western-Pico Discount World
Whenever I need any supplies or clothes there's the Swap Meet. The thing is literally called Swap Meet Price. It's this little Mid-City plaza and they have all of these pawn shops and Mexican grocery stores and then all the Korean ladies are selling all knock-off shit. You can get stuff embroidered; it's this nice little hood center.
1233 S Western Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90006
Mateo's Ice Cream & Fruit Bars
The spot Mateo's is just the fucking jump off. There was a period of a month where I would go get a juice there every morning. And they have this juice there, called the Vampiro, and it's just beet, celery, orange, carrot, and ginger and it has saved my life. They just make the best Mexican ice cream in the city. They have a flavor called smoked milk which I've never heard of anywhere else. It just tastes like smoke and milk. It's awesome.
4234 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90010
La Cevicheria is this ceviche place off of Pico and the chef is super rad. When you're eating there he'll come out and ask you how the food is. It can maybe seat like 20 people and it's not always open but it's just some of the best ceviche in the city. I hadn't even been big on eating fish or meat really and that place fully convinced me to start eating fish. Yeah, it's super dank.
3809 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90019
Taqueria Los Anaya
Taco trucks are the vibe, and there are a few that are really good. El Chato is a really excellent truck. There's also Leo's which is really good. But the other Mexican spot that's the best is Tacos Anaya. It's always been a block or two away from my house and I didn't know about it until this year. It just fully changed my life.
4651 W Adams Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90016