A Night At Dollar Hits
Filipino-Angelenos gather at Dollar Hits, a Pinoy street food truck that lets you grill your own meal, at dusk. Photo by Kirsten Judson
Skewers of Pinoy meats and seafood lie ready to hit any of the sidewalk grills. Photo by Kirsten Judson
Meat isn’t the only thing grilling: these cobs of corn are about to get a nice char. Photo by Kirsten Judson
The nighttime scene at Dollar Hits: rightfully so, it gets crowded. Photo by Kirsten Judson
It’s an arduous task to find an anonymous eatery in the gentrified Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles these days; the gritty, run-down East L.A. of yore is almost gone. Taco trucks are no longer meeting points—they’re fuel stations to alleviate weekend drunken stupors. Any derelict area in the five-mile radius of the Lake has been made into a frippery of coffee shops.
But there is still hope in a little pocket south of Silverlake, west of Echo, north of Downtown: the Historic District of Filipinotown, a place holding onto its’ food culture amidst gentrification, where neighborhood nicknames are just now being created (yes, Snapchat did recently add a ‘Hi-Fi’ geo-tag —shudder).
The unfamiliar can still be experienced, just five blocks of Sunset on Temple Street, at a food truck that serves cuisine that’s distinctive and uncompromised. Open four days a week and only $1 for everything on the menu: this is Dollar Hits .
Dollar Hits is an L.A. food truck in true possession of the people. There is no rich owner or adventurous chef at the helm; instead, you’ll find a 40-year old Filipino woman singing to you through a microphone, and a true reflection of Filipino people making Filipino food.
Customers line up to get their dollar hits. Photo by Kirsten Judson
Here’s how it works: Grab a piece of paper and mark what you want. In typical Pinoy street food fashion, they master the specialties: pork isaw (pig’s large intestine), kwek-kwek (small quail eggs), puso ng manok (chicken heart), and bingo (corn with grated coconut). All items are boiled or pre-cooked and delivered to you on a Styrofoam plate.
Don’t worry, though, because that’s not the last step. Personal grills are lined and fired up on the sidewalk for you to cook your meat to your liking. Add their simple homemade marinade (a tangy vinegar sauce) to any of their dishes and you will find the same taste as the BBQ street stalls on the other side of the Pacific. Need something to wash down your squid balls? Unlimited melon juice served out of a metal cauldron is always available.
At any time Thursday through Sunday, there about 30 people on Temple Street, dancing and grillin’ their ‘hits to disco Filipino tunes blasted from the truck’s speakers. This is a true community-style way of sharing a meal.
This neighborhood once belonged to Filipinos, but now, like so many others like it, is slowly fading into the overpriced Echo Park real estate. We can only hope they will hold on to this territory forever. In the midst of L.A.’s housing crisis , the locals are holding strong to their block and their cuisine. This food will always belong to them, but we’re lucky enough to be welcomed to the party.