Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Latinos and Greeks share common cultures

Greeks and Latinos enjoy a hearty embrace in Pico-Union.
By Rachel Levin LA Times February 10, 2009

At the corner of Normandie Avenue and Pico Boulevard, a large mural on the side of a public storage building offers a poignant message: "We are each of us angels with one wing. We can only fly embracing each other." Such is the essence of the Byzantine-Latino Quarter, a corner of the Pico-Union district where Greeks, Mexicans and Central Americans have found vibrant synergy. Once known as "Greek Town" for its concentration of Greek residents and businesses, community groups designated the area the "BLQ" in 1997.

FOR THE RECORD: An earlier version of this article mistakenly stated that worshippers attended "mass" at St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral attended. In the Greek Orthodox tradition, the service is called a "liturgy."

A history of faith

Although many Greeks have moved out of the immediate area, they return on Sundays to attend the liturgy at St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral (1324 S. Normandie Ave., [323] 737-2424, The massive green-domed church, which celebrated its 100th anniversary last year, boasts ornate frescoes and stained-glass windows. Around the corner, Latino families worship at historic St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church (2760 W. Pico Blvd., [323] 737-3325,, a congregation founded in 1903.


On Sundays, the crowds file out of Mass for a hearty meal. Greek institution Papa Cristo's (2771 W. Pico Blvd., [323] 737-2970, has been doling out plates of spiced gyros and golden spanakopita (spinach pie) since 1948. Authentic Mexican specialties are served at family-run El Farolito (2737 W. Pico Blvd., [323] 731-4329), which prepares birria (goat stew) and menudo on weekends.

Sports fans

Greek and Latino communities share a passion for soccer. Gear up with cleats and soccer balls at Niky's Sports (2743 W. Pico Blvd., [323] 735-2181,, and then fly your favorite team's colors with a jersey from Maldonado Sports (2645 W. Pico Blvd., [213] 925-8014).

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