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Community Comes Together At A World Cup Watch Party

People in folding chairs and standing look in the same direction in a wood-paneled room.
Soccer fans watch the World Cup match between Ecuador and Senegal at La Casita de Cancún Olé, an Ecuadorian food pop up and community meeting place in Hollywood.
(Samanta Helou Hernandez
LAist )
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There’s no feeling in America quite like gathering with your family and friends to watch "Sunday Night Football," even when you’re just a bandwagon fan like me.

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But you know what’s also very American?

Cheering on your favorite home team at 7 a.m. on a Tuesday during the World Cup.

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Ecuador V. Senegal

Early yesterday, I met up with some of my How To LA colleagues. We swapped the usual sports fare of beers and wings for café y bolón de verde at La Casita de Cancún Olé in Hollywood to watch Ecuador play Senegal. La Casita is one of the unconventional places that Alex Sasayama highlighted for LAist a few weeks back so we HAD to go.

There we were, with sleep still in our eyes and half-full coffee cups in hand amidst already hyped-up fans decked out in yellow Ecuadorian jerseys and hats in this regular looking house.

A man sits on a couch with a yellow and blue jersey as he looks off at a TV screen.
An Ecuadorian soccer fan watches attentively after Senegal scores their second goal during their World Cup soccer match with Ecuador.
(Samanta Helou Hernandez
LAist )

When you walk through the front yard, you see tents up, tables set and lawn chairs down. A large TV is on. The vibrant yellow, blue and red Ecuadorian flag flaps on a staff in front of the house.

There’s a TV on the porch too and then, when you step inside, there’s three more TVs for people to watch. It’s an actual house with cushioned chairs, couches and a dining room table. They even have a Christmas tree!

Working hard in the kitchen to make bolones is Margarita Platon, the owner of the house and the restaurant. Alejandro Platon is who we meet at the entrance of the home. He calls himself a “designated volunteer” because this is his wife’s business.

Tables in a pop-up tent are covered in tablecloths. People in the back of the tent are watching TV
With very few options for Ecuadorian restaurants in LA, members of the community often gather in residential areas where pop ups are hosted by the owners.
(Samanta Helou Hernandez
LAist )
Two women in yellow soccer jerseys are in a kitchen cooking empanadas on a stovetop.
Margarita Platon, who operates an Ecuadorian food pop up and gathering place out of her Hollywood home, makes cheese empanadas with her friend Sara Luzuriaga while hosting a World Cup watch party.
(Samanta Helou Hernandez

They started serving Ecuadorian food about 30 years ago. Their original restaurant Cancún Olé was on Hollywood and Vermont. They became well-known at that location. But then, as Alejandro Platon explains, they got “gentrified.” 

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They now own a place in East L.A., but during the pandemic, they relocated their restaurant to their house and started doing the pop ups. They wanted to create a space for Ecuadorians to gather in a family-like atmosphere, and it worked. The people came. Sometimes, Margarita added, they never leave.

“We continue here because people ask for it,” Alejandro Platon said. “And…ironically, she does better here than she does at the [other] location.”

We’re here to help curious Angelenos connect with others, discover the new, navigate the confusing, and even drive some change along the way.

I talked to one super fan, Manuel Ochoa, who usually comes on Sundays when they have live music (I was told to come back and watch him sing and salsa dance!). But he’s here on this early Tuesday to watch the World Cup.

He’s a proud Ecuadorian who has been in Los Angeles, for 40 years. He was rooting for both his teams in two different matches — Ecuador and the U.S. The U.S won and Ecuador lost. Despite the home team's loss, Ochoa said he just had a really good time.

“I’m so happy to be back on track with my people with different nationalities from the USA, from Peru, from Colombia…from all over,” Ochoa said.

One special aspect I noticed about this familial environment was that it was intergenerational. Thalia Veintimilla, who is originally from Ecuador, brought her children to the watch party.

“I came to Los Angeles and I had kids,” Veintimilla said. “I just enjoy being able to share with others the community of Ecuadorians here because it's just a completely different culture. I think it's an opportunity for the kids without having to leave LA. We have a little bit of Ecuador here.”

In side-by-side pictures two people are draped in a yellow, blue and red flag
An Ecuadorian fans wrapped themselves in their country's flag during Tuesday's World Cup match against Senegal.
(Samanta Helou Hernandez
LAist )

As people were attentively watching the game, Martha Ramos served bolón de verde, green plantain balls stuffed with either cheese or chicharrones; empanadas and Cuáker, which is an Ecuadorian drink made of oatmeal, citrus, panela or brown sugar, water and cinnamon. She said she’s known Margarita Platon for over 25 years.

“I am helping my friend,” Ramos said. “No pay. Not anything. This is my heart for my Ecuadorian people. Every Sunday, I’m here.”

Our host Brian De Los Santos has more in the latest How To LA podcast episode. Check it out here.

As always, stay happy and healthy, folks. There’s more news below — just keep reading.

More News

(After you stop hitting snooze)

*At LAist we will always bring you the news freely, but occasionally we do include links to other publications that may be behind a paywall. Thank you for understanding! 

  • The Los Angeles County District Attorney joined officials with the public health department, law enforcement and education leaders to announce a working group to address the rise of fentanyl overdose deaths. Such deaths increased nearly 1,300% from 2016 to 2021.
  • On Tuesday, the University of California system reached a tentative deal with the academic researchers and post doctoral students who went on strike almost two weeks ago. The deal needs to be voted on but salary increases, child subsidies, and transit passes are all on the table.
  • A man was arrested after trying to climb the 54-story Ritz-Carlton building in downtown L.A. He almost made it to the top, too. 
  • Fifty years ago, the families of hundreds of Black, Indigenous, and people of color were evicted from the Section 14 neighborhood of Palm Springs to make way for commercial real-estate. Now their families are suing the city, seeking millions of dollars in restitution.
  • A new report from UC researchers has found that “hyper-partisanship” is making it very difficult to run schools. They collected anecdotes from K-12 schools all over the country that highlight the political polarization that has developed in recent years.  
  • As we noted up top, Ecuador may have lost to Senegal, but the U.S. beat Iran 1-0 in Tuesday’s World Cup match to advance to the knockout round
  • Research shows the higher the number of adverse childhood experiences, the higher the risk of chronic health or mental health conditions later in life. More people are getting screened for this but the question is whether proper treatment has followed. 
  • Improv isn’t just for actors and comedians. It can certainly help you be funnier but it can also help build confidence, regardless of your profession.

Wait! One More Thing...

A Peek Inside The Oldest Restaurant In Hollywood

A neon sign reads: Musso & Frank Grill Since 1919 Oldest in Hollywood
The Musso & Frank Grill sign. (JonPaul Douglass)

Okay, friends, despite all that delicious Ecuadorian food I ate earlier, I am still hungry. What’s a girl to do???

Ahh!!! I have the perfect solution. Hop in my yellow DeLorean coupe lowrider for a trip to a place that Orson Welles described like “being in the womb.”

At 102-years-old, Musso & Frank it’s the oldest restaurant in Hollywood. Everyone in the creative world in L.A. from literary giants like F. Scott Fitzgerald to Hollywood darlings like Marilyn Monroe would frequent this hotspot for a little exquisite fine wine and to dine with other talents. Could you imagine all of the conversations and happenings that took place within those walls?

Despite a recession and a pandemic and, now, inflation, Musso & Frank is still going strong.

In her article about the history of Musso & Frank for the restaurant's 100th birthday, Hadley Meares writes that the classic dishes from the early days of the restaurant still exist, even though so much has changed in the world.

Calf’s liver, grilled lamb kidneys, smoked tongue are all original items that are still on the menu. But I think it’s probably the steak and martinis that have people coming back.

Read more about how this L.A. restaurant survived the test of time throughout its 100 years of existence here.

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