LA’s Best Latino Foods, and They’re Not Mexican
Los Angeles knows how to do Mexican food, no doubt about it. But L.A. is home to so much more: there’s Colombian, Cuban, Peruvian, Salvadoran and Brazilian spots are all over town. And they’re GOOD. Here’s where to find ‘em.
Visiting Atlacatl is like eating pupusas at a friend’s house. The loroco (edible flower) and cheese pupusa is the best you’ll ever have. Don’t miss the yuca frita, it’s got a satisfying crunch you can’t get from french fries.
301 N Berendo St, Los Angeles, CA 90004 (323) 663-1404
Don’t be overwhelmed by the long lines, it’s worth the wait once you try their refugiados (guava and cheese pastries), fruit tarts, meat pies and potato balls. If you’re in the mood for lunch, order a media noche sandwich and a guava smoothie.
315 N Brand Blvd, Glendale, CA 91203 (818) 956-5996
La Fonda Antioquena
Hungry? Try a Bandeja Paisa or Ave Maria plate. You’ll have your fill of beef, chicharrón, beans and plantains. Wash it down with una Colombiana (https://www.sodapopstop.com/products/detail.cfm?link=332). They’ve also got empanadas, pasteles de yucca and Colombian staples like pandebonos. Get some to go and have them con un cafecito.
5125 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90004 (323) 957-5164
El Gaucho Meat Market
Along with a variety of products from South America, El Gaucho Meat Market sells authentic Argentinian grub: empanadas, sandwiches and sweets such as alfajores. The lomito sandwich – don’t forget to add chimichurri – is a favorite with customers who show up to watch soccer on weekends.
2715 Manhattan Beach Blvd, Redondo Beach, CA 90278 (310) 297-2617
Start off with fresh oysters as an appetizer. Then go for the lomo saltado con papas fritas. The staff isn’t exactly known for its family vibe, but the food will keep you coming back. Insider tip: bring your own beer.
5786 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038 (323) 466-4181
Don Felix is on the other side of town from Mario’s. Calamares fritos or fresh ceviche de mariscos are always a good start. Don’t forget to order a sweet, sweet Inca Kola with your meal.
305 N Virgil Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90004 (323) 663-1088
Located inside the bustling Grand Central Market, Sarita’s does pupusas right. Take your pick from stuffing options such as loroco, mushrooms, beans, beef, pork, chicken, chicharron, and zucchini. Of course, they’ve all got a little cheese inside. Make it official by topping ‘em with curtido – fresh pickled cabbage and carrots with a hint of spice.
317 S Broadway #41, Los Angeles, CA 90013 (213) 626-6320
It doesn’t matter if you don’t speak Portuguese, porque también hablan Español. One of the few Brazilian restaurants that serves moqueca de peixe – a seafood stew with garlic, pepper and coconut milk – Tropicalia also serves flaky meat empanadas. Their sangria is dangerously delicious, so be careful.
1966 Hillhurst Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027 (323) 644-1798
A former car garage, Mambo’s Café’s tostones are a must try. Whether you order ropa vieja or Mambo’s chicken, you’ll also get platanos fritos, rice and black beans. Don’t leave until you try their Latin version of Bananas Foster with caramelized plantains.
1701 Victory Blvd, Glendale, CA 91201 (818) 545-8613
Located on the outskirts of L.A., El Molinito is a hidden treasure. La picada, their appetizer dish, has bite-size versions of Colombian finger foods. What do you get? Cheese arepas, patacones, chicharrones, empanadas, fried plantains and pieces of pork. The guava juice is creamy, but it’ll help wash it all down.
8535 Washington Blvd, Pico Rivera, CA 90660 (562) 948-1828
Their pão de queijo (cheese bread) will melt in your mouth, but save your appetite because the portions are GENEROUS. It may feel more L.A. than Brazilian with the stylish crowd clamoring for tables, but you can make yourself feel like you’re in Rio with some camarão à Brasileira.
7181 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90046 (323) 436-7999
Versailles is known for its traditional Cuban pork and roasted garlic chicken. If you’re up for something new, try the beef tongue stew or the liver steak plate. Finish things off with a guava and coconut flan.
10319 Venice Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90034 (310) 558-3168