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THE GUIDE

Neighborhoods: Byzantine-Latino Quarter

Greeks and Latinos enjoy a hearty embrace in Pico-Union.

February 10, 2009|Rachel Levin

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.

A history of faith

Although many Greeks have moved out of the immediate area, they return on Sundays to attend mass at St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral (1324 S. Normandie Ave., [323] 737-2424, www.stsophia.org). 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, www.stthomasla.org), a congregation founded in 1903.

Togetherness

On Sundays, the crowds file out of Mass for a hearty meal. Greek institution Papa Cristo's (2771 W. Pico Blvd., [323] 737-2970, www.papacristos.com) 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.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday, February 12, 2009 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 2 inches; 75 words Type of Material: Correction
Byzantine-Latino Quarter: An article in Tuesday's Calendar section about the Los Angeles neighborhood known as the Byzantine-Latino Quarter said that the St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral had celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2008. It is the Los Angeles Greek parish, founded in 1908, that is 100 years old. The church itself was built in 1952. Also, the article used an incorrect term, Mass, for the Eucharistic service that parishioners attend there. They attend Divine Liturgy.

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, www.nikys-sports.com), 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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alendar@latimes.com

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