Fri. Aug 19th, 2022

One of LA’s largest and most ambiguously defined regions, South LA or South Central LA, has historically been the site of many iconic events. In the 1920s, jazz legends like Duke Ellington and Bessie Smith gave career-defining performances here. Fast forward to February 2022, and the 56th Super Bowl will be held at a stadium in Inglewood. But in this guide we will highlight the restaurants and dishes that stewed oxtails and birria de res that have made this part of town famous. Whether you’re looking for a brunch spot in Crenshaw, lunch options in Watts, or dinner spots in Bell Gardens (we know it’s technically southeastern LA), this guide is the perfect place to start.

LA’s favorite Creole restaurant went under the knife in 2020, but now it’s back and looks better than ever. Most of the large leather cabins inside are still filled with regulars who seem to have come here to get huge portions of crawfish etouffee since it opened. This 50-year-old pin in South LA feels like a little piece of New Orleans, so expect incredible gumbo, jambalaya and beignets. If you visit Harold & Belle’s on a Friday or Saturday night, you’ll probably catch a live jazz band moaning for diners in the restaurant’s bar and lounge area. It’s exciting, but it can also get quite crowded, so we recommend that you call in advance to book a reservation.

There are plenty of parking spaces in LA where you can pick up a solid order of tacos, but few run as smoothly as the Tire Shop Taqueria. The operation at this cash-strapped taco place in South Park involves several tents divided into stations for making hand-pressed corn tortillas, grilling carne asada, chopping chorizo ​​and scooping toppings. Just standing in line can be a fascinating experience, but actually eating tacos here is even more incredible. Tire Shop Taqueria makes some of the best carne asada tacos we’ve ever had – they have a perfect balance of smoky flavors from the charred edges and the richness of the marinade. Aside from the beef, chorizo ​​is our second favorite option here. It is very spicy, nicely grilled and tastes as if it has just been rolled down a tray of red pepper.

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Guide:

The best tacos in Los Angeles

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Hawkins House of Burgers has been a neighborhood institution in Watts since 1939. And over 80 years later, the menu still involves a mix of classic burgers grilled to perfection, stacked high with bacon or stuffed with pastrami. Whether you order a simple cheeseburger or “The Leaning Tower Of Watts” stacked with three steaks, hot links and chili, you will leave it as a much happier and fatter version of yourself. Recently, Hawkins has been attacked by CalTrans, which is trying to tear down part of their building, which they claim is “invading state land.” Hawkins is currently fighting the case and buying the land that CalTrans is looking for. They have a Gofundme page up to help raise money for legal fees and land acquisition.

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Guide:

The 25 best burgers in LA

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For years, this amazing Jamaican restaurant in Leimert Park has been one of our favorite places for jerk chicken and beef. And true, we have not tried one thing at Ackee that we did not love. But our favorite dish is the brown stewed chicken, which is like a meaty pile of brown sauce and sweet peppers. The portions here are huge, so if you are flying solo, just go for the small – each order comes with plantains, steamed vegetables, festival bread and a large portion of rice and peas. Keep this place in mind when looking for a place to pick up food before a picnic at Leimert Park Plaza around the corner.

Dulan’s is an honored soul food place with two locations in Inglewood (and one in Crenshaw), an institution in LA. Nothing compares to the pure, unbridled joy that comes from digging into their plates of pork chops, fried chicken and incredible mac and cheese. There really is no wrong way to order here, although our go-to is the chicken, which tastes like it has been marinated for several days and then is fried until golden brown. Currently, the restaurant only operates from its takeaway window on Manchester Avenue, but don’t worry, the soul food here tastes just as good on the passenger seat of your Camry.

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Guide:

The best restaurants in Inglewood

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Walking into this classic dining room at Centinela is like walking into the center of the neighborhood – families, large groups of friends and solo diners who have been visiting every week for 35 years, all shouting for The Serving Spoons southern breakfast into their lives. No matter what day of the week you come here, you can expect queues out the door, but on the other side of the 45-minute wait, there are huge plates of fried catfish, chicken trumpets and our favorite waffles in town. If you can get a seat at the counter, do so and be treated to an endless conversation with the waiters.

After closing for over a year, this subdued pasta bar has a new home in West Adams, complete with a sunny patio, pasta art hanging from the ceiling, and a grove of olive trees. The beet spaghetti and almond pestognocchi here are some of the best pasta plates we have ever eaten, but we just recommend ordering one of everything on the daily changing menu. Expect options like chicken liver crostino, sweet corn carbonara and several glasses of wine.

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Guide:

The best Italian restaurants in LA

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Inside Mercado La Paloma, a former factory that was converted into a meeting room and dining hall in Downtown, is Holbox – a family-run food stall serving super inventive seafood that will make you question all the other seafood you have ever eaten. Think ceviche tostadas, chili rellenos stuffed with yellowtail and raw oysters in the dozen. That said, you dare not leave without getting an order of scallop tacos – each comes with four perfectly seared scallops wrapped in a thick homemade corn tortilla before being topped with fennel, caramelized onions and spicy chili sauce. Enjoy it all on the market’s large outdoor terrace.

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Guide:

The best Seafood Tostadas in LA

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The neon sign on the building shouts “PASTRAMI” in large, glowing letters, so yes, that’s what you want to order from Johnny’s, the long-standing late-night venue was rethought and reopened under new ownership in 2020. The house-smoked pastrami is slightly pricey, sliced ​​super thick and served simply on marble rye from Tartine Bakery with a blob of delicacy mustard. This is a large, bold showcase for the deeply smoked breast, the bidet of the bark and the semi-melted fat capsule (we always prefer our pastrami a little greasy), with an emphasis on big. This is a whole meal in itself, so if you want to try a few different things here, we would recommend ordering a half sandwich.

Simply Wholesome is just one of the fantastic sites in View Park-Windsor Hills. It is a health food grocery store with a restaurant inside and a giant patio outside where you can enjoy their smoothies, burgers and vegetarian tacos. These smoothies are why we are here most often – they come out quickly and are packed with fresh fruit, ice cream and coconut, but if you eat a complete meal, the turkey burgers are your best bet. Both because they are good and because they come with Simply Wholesome’s killer french fries – they are somewhere between a thin roast and a steak roast, not to mention perfectly golden and crispy.

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Guide:

The best breakfast burritos in Los Angeles

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The first thing you notice when you walk into this family-run Belizean restaurant is that it’s a party. Whether you are here for a quick lunch, a family dinner or a karaoke event, you can expect Little Belize to be crowded, festive and always a great time. As for the food, start with the panades (fried masa stuffed with fish hash) and garnaches (crispy tortillas topped with fried beans, tomatoes and onions), and finish with either the chicken or beef tail stew. Both are immensely tasty, but it’s the fried plantains on the side you want to talk about – and eat – on the way home.

Banadir Somali is a family-run restaurant and community institution just south of Inglewood town center. The bare-bones space feels like you’re in the basement of a neighborhood rec center, and everyone inside treats it as such. Large groups gather around large tables and eat massive dishes of huge Somali food. Goat is the house specialty here and it is so full of flavor that it will ruin most other versions you have ever had. If you arrive around 11am, you will be able to order from both their breakfast and lunch menu, which is ideal because shakshuka, ful (bean stew) and crepe-like carnation bread are all as good as the goat.

Run by renowned chefs Jaime Martin Del Campo and Ramiro Arvizu, La Casita Mexico’s Jalisco-style menu has transformed this neighborhood restaurant into a true LA restaurant destination. There are rich, chocolate-like moles, Azteca cheese fondue and steak served over grilled cactus, but the dish you need to order is chile en nogada. This giant green chili comes stuffed with beef, spices, dried fruits, walnuts, candied cactus, pecan cream sauce and topped with pomegranate seeds. It is sweet, spicy, deeply herbal and a dish we would happily eat as a starter, main course or dessert.

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Guide:

The best Mexican restaurants in Los Angeles

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This Afro-Mexican restaurant is also located in Bell Gardens and serves specialties from the owner’s home state of Guerrero – think rich red pozole, tamales of pork and guisado of beef tongue. The highlight of the menu, however, is the pescadillas. These thin, crispy tacos come filled with perfectly stewed fish, and we recommend getting at least three orders – one for you now, one for you in five minutes and one for five minutes after that. There is also a small, wrap-around patio perfect for a quick lunch.

Ray’s BBQ in Huntington Park, originally a backyard pop-up, serves Texas-style smoked meats that compete with those made in Lone Star State. After dropping his bank job in 2015, owner Rene “Ray” Ramirez flew to Texas to learn from the best, including places like the Franklin Barbecue in Austin. The result is a spectacular mix of barbecue favorites, like pulled pork made to order and an extra fat breast wrapped in black pepper and tasting like it got a big chatter from a column of smoke. The sides are also amazing, especially the thick, sour mac and cheese, plus there is a small side yard where you will see both regulars in their lunch breaks and others who subtly regret a button on their pants.

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