To celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, our Hispanic/Latinx affinity group, GSDyM, has put together a list of recommendations ranging from hit Netflix shows in Spanish that have become internationally successful to works of literature to authentic places to shop/eat. There is an abundance of Hispanic talent out there…. Please enjoy our recommendations to help support the Hispanic community as you become inspired by our beautiful culture.
We created a selection based on our favorite award-winning movies and some “classics.” Some of these movies are great for learning Spanish. If the Spanish is too quick for you, we recommend using subtitles to follow along, or simply watch in English and know that you are supporting Hispanic filmmakers. Grab some Takis con salsa and hit play.
- Roma: This award-winning film was recently nominated for best picture at the Oscars. The main actress, Yalitza Aparicio is the first indigenous Mexican Best Actress Oscar nominee. It’s a masterpiece in cinema.
- Selena: A Mexican-American, English-speaking girl learns to sing Tejano music in Spanish and becomes a groundbreaking star in the Tejano music genre. This movie deals with several themes: women in music (specifically, Tejano music), the expectations/judgements of Mexican-Americans who do not speak fluent Spanish and being a “crossover” musician.
- Ya no estoy aquí (I’m No Longer Here): I recently watched the movie on Netflix and really enjoyed the art, music, cinematography and story around it. It is also very close to my heart as it is based in my hometown, Monterrey, Mexico, and it’s about a 17-year-old “Cholombiano” who escapes Mexico and tries to make a life for himself in New York City.
- Nosotros los nobles (The Noble Family): This is a classic, Mexican dark comedy about a rich family with spoiled children who go from living the dream life to not having a single cent.
- Como caído del cielo: Inspired by the life of Mexican legendary actor-singer Pedro Infante, this movie stars comedian Omar Chaparro who portrays Infante’s beloved music beautifully.
- Live Twice, Love Once: This is a sweet, light movie about a man who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease seeking out his childhood love—good for learning Spanish (subtitled).
- Orfeu Negro/Black Orpheus: A classic movie set in Brazil during Carnival intertwined with Greek myth of Orpheus; largely Afro-Brazilian cast.
- McFarland, USA: This is a great family movie based on a true story of runners from McFarland, an economically challenged town in California, and building a cross country team in a predominantly Latino high school.
- Mi Vida Loca: Two teen best friends who consider themselves cholas and are immersed in gang life in 90s Echo Park find their friendship put to the test when they both become pregnant by the same young man. I love the look of the girls in this movie. It reminds me of the way girls dressed when I was in school. It also portrays teen gang life and neighborhood violence.
- Lone Star: This murder mystery goes back and forth in time from the late 50s to the 90s and is set in a border town. Themes include Mexican American life in a border town, the theme of “borders” and what that means literally and figuratively, police corruption, and also racism in a town that includes a large Hispanic and Black population that are both still distinctly “separate.”
- La Bamba: Ritchie Valens went from doing farm work to becoming one of the first Chicano rock stars. His hit song was sung entirely in Spanish. I love how this movie portrays the work ethic of the farm workers, life for Californian Chicanos and the fact that it’s about early rock music.
- Stand and Deliver: A group of Hispanic kids from a school in the “bad part of town” who were essentially written off as “unteachable” learn advanced mathematics. It’s an honest look at the educational system in underserved communities, the Hispanic family structure and expectations within, and a bit about internalized racism.
Netflix and other streaming platforms are doing a great job bringing Spanish-language shows to the U.S. AND making them international hits. Here is our list of must-see TV shows:
- Club de Cuervos: A comedy centered around a brother and sister having a power struggle over their family’s treasured fútbol (soccer) club.
- La Casa de Papel (Money Heist): An action/drama show about a group of criminals trying to pull off the biggest bank robbery in Spain.
- Latin History for Morons: Inspired by the absence of Latinos in his son’s school, John Leguizamo breaks down 3,000 years of Latin American history.
- Celia: This show focuses on the life of artist Celia Cruz and how she went from being a shy, skinny girl from Cuba to the Queen of Salsa. The music will make you want to dance!
- Jane the Virgin: American romantic comedy and telenovela full of Spanglish, food and dancing
- El tiempo entre costuras (The Time in Between): This Spanish drama series is based on the novel by Maria Dueñas (book also recommended). It is about a Madrileña seamstress turned spy who finds herself stuck in Morocco around the time of the Spanish Civil War. It is a beautiful story, and the costumes are amazing.
- Velvet: a Spanish drama show set in the 80s about a love story between a seamstress and a young man destined to inherit the majestic fashion empire ruled by his father.
- Immigration Nation: Documentary on Netflix based on how ICE has changed since the last presidency
- Orange is the New Black: They have dynamic characters with cultural depth–celebrated for having a diverse cast.
Book-lovers, check out these must-read titles in English or Spanish!
- The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo: Brazilian novelist, Paulo Coehlo, is one of my favorite authors. You’ve probably heard of his best-selling book called The Alchemist, which at one point was the most translated book in history (other than the Bible, I think). My other favorite books from him include: Brida, Veronika Decides to Die and The Devil and Miss Prym.
- Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal: Martinez-Neal is a Peruvian American children’s book author and illustrator.
- The Diary of Frida Kahlo: An Intimate Self‑Portrait: Frida’s amazing illustrated journal reflects her art, writings and love for Diego.
- Other book recommendations:
- Tear This Heart Out by Ángeles Mastretta, Cien Años de Soledad by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, The Chicana Feminist by Martha P. Cotera, The House of Spirit by Isabel Allende, Hopscotch by Julio Cortázar, Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
Whether you enjoy music for dancing, relaxing, inspiration or nostalgia, these bands and albums have you covered!
- Canciones de Mi Padre, Linda Ronstadt: If you love listening to mariachis, or mariachi music makes you tear up (like it does me), check out Linda’s album of traditional mariachi music.
- De Mexico, Reik: album has acoustic covers of classic songs
- Los Lobos Del Este De Los Angeles: Los Lobos performs traditional party songs in Spanish.
- Bidi Bidi Banda: It’s an Austin-based Selena cover band!
- Mi Tierra and 90 Millas: Two of Gloria Estefan’s Spanish-language albums
- Little Joe y La Familia: Tex-Mex Funk
- Flaco Jiménez NPR Session
- Concha Buika: Spanish Gitana music
- Also check out music by: Los Ángeles Azules, Cuco, Máximo Grado, Los Nuevos Rebeldes, Banda Renovación, Marca Registrada, Larry Hernández, El Potro De Sinaloa, Grupo Delta, Gerardo Ortiz, Lenin Ramírez, Javier Torres
Rejoice, social media hounds and webbies, we’ve got your online entertainment right here.
- Remezcla is a content website that keeps you up to date with anything cool in the Latinx community. Right now, they are also putting on live music events that are so fun!
- Pero Like, Buzzfeed’s hispanic community, has a ton of fun content on Hispanic culture in both English and Spanish. Great way to learn about different cultures while having fun!
- Se regalan dudas – Spanish-language podcast. The focus of the podcast is to speak about taboo themes without prejudice, like mental health, abortion, rape and sexuality.
- We are mitú is a channel with a Latino point of view. They have very cool and informative content about music, food, sex, politics and all things that matter on both their website and Instagram page.
- Latinx Parenting – Parenting resources rooted in social justice and children’s rights
Hungry? Restaurants are slowly starting to open back up, but there’s always “para llevar.”
- Cuantos Tacos: Food truck with the best tacos in Austin
- Suerte: Suadero tacos have been featured in many magazines and documentaries.
- El Alma: higher-end Mexican food restaurant with craft cocktails
- Joe’s Bakery & Coffee Shop: Mexican breakfast and lunch, pan dulce
- Mr. Natural: Vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free Mexican food and bakery
- Hecho En Mexico: They are family owned and their mole is sooo good. I recommend the sampler mole plate!
- Granny’s Tacos: They have the best fat breakfast tacos from a trailer, and that’s a hill I’ll die on.
- The Vegan Nom: Food truck with vegan tacos and queso
- Licha’s Cantina: The food of Mexico City in a space with East Austin vibes
- Esquina Tango (dance studio): Salsa, Bachata, Samba, Tango, Salsa Aerobics, Afro-Latin dance, Conversational Portuguese classes (Right now, they are offering online classes by donation and outdoor classes by reservation.)
- Austin Samba: Learn to play drums or dance samba with others in the Austin community. Perform at local parades, events and Carnaval Brasileiro. There is a small donation for new members during open season (begins in May). Do not need to have played an instrument or danced samba to participate.
- Roy Lozano’s Ballet Folklorico: Classes in ballet folklorico for children and adults of all levels
- Mexic-Arte Museum: They also hold the annual Viva la Vida Parade celebrating the Day of the Dead.
- Puerto Rican Cultural Center: They offer classes in dance, theater, music and also hold workshops and events.
Creators (artists, local craft makers, etc.)
Gift-giving season is right around the corner!
- @FridaFridayATX: This is Austin’s first-and-only monthly WOC-centered mercado y más supporting and amplifying WOC in Tejaslandia! It’s more than a market, it’s a movement.
- @VeryThat: A San Antonio native who creates products that resonate with the Hispanic community, such as mugs, stickers and calendars with popular Hispanic figures and phrases like, “Chingona como mi Madre,” “Échale Ganas,” “Tacos Before Vatos” and more. Check her out!
- Carlos Bazán Ramos is a Mixtec (Oaxaca) painter and muralist. He is known to be one of the promising young artists of plastic Oaxacan arts and was recently selected to collaborate with Disney.
- Dr. Lakra: A Mexican artist and tattooist based in Oaxaca, Dr. Lakra works on vintage printed materials and found objects instead of skin, incorporating images of pinups, old-time Mexican businessmen and professional wrestlers.
- @PriscilaGarciaJacquier: Colombian journalist dedicated to deconstructing Latinidad
- @thenycyogini: Patricia Pinto is a Venezulan yogi whose work is inspiring and effective.
- @perreopandemico: Christine Amy used to be a creative at GSD&M. She’s created an Instagram account where she rewrites lyrics of famous reggaeton songs to make light of the pandemic and 2020 in general (mostly in Spanish, Puerto Rican).