Highland Park Neighborhood Spots Changing Things One Plate At A Time


Highland Park is on the come up. In the last several years, this East LA neighborhood has begun to really thrive with its eclectic eats and spots for people to hang.

These aren’t just your regular Latin American food joints. Each of these is significantly impacting the Highland Park community in a unique way, which has also led this community to come together. All the more reason to get over there and try these joints out!

1. La Abeja

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CREDIT: Flying Pigeon LA

This restaurant has been in business for FORTY-TWO years. That’s a long time to keep customers happy, but owner Rogelio Fonseca gets it. It’s all about the quality of the food, and the uniqueness of each dish. La Abeja is historic, and “La abuelita” the iconic abuela of this restaurant (Fonseca’s aunt, Gloria), has been helping out at the restaurant since 1969.

Originally, La Abeja was a pharmacy, then a convenience store, and finally, a restaurant that prides itself in keeping in touch with its neighborhood. According to Fonseca, he believes that the customers are what keep La Abeja alive. People are sharing their lives and connecting with one another, surrounded by incredible dishes.

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CREDIT: Yelp / lm j.

The coolest part about this place? It’s introducing the younger generations of Los Angeles residents to old recipes, traditional cuisine, and the feeling of familia. All kinds of people head to La Abeja to enjoy the Machaca. It’s kind of like getting a history lesson in LA while you eat…it’s been around that long.

2. El Arco Iris

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CREDIT: Is It Any Good / BLOG

Gustavo and Irene Montes opened up El Arco Iris in 1964, wanting to share the taste and culture of their Queretaro, Mexico to the residents of Los Angeles. What started out as a simple 8-table place has blossomed into a full restaurant with catering and banquet rooms. With the help of their children and grandchildren, El Arco Iris has become a leading food establishment in paving the Highland Park community for the better.

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CREDIT: Yelp / Margo D.

If you stumble into El Arco Iris, you’re getting more than just delicious Mexican cuisine. The coolest way this restaurant is improving Highland Park? It’s bringing attention and support to local artists. While dining on the fabulous Enchiladas de Mole, or the exquisite 4-layer bean dip, you can peruse the artwork as well.

3. Huarache Azteca Restaurante

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CREDIT: Flickr / Link

One of the best qualities in any restaurant is how they treat their customers and clients. It’s the difference between just a place to eat, and a place that has imprinted itself on a community, bringing all sorts of people together.

Huarache Azteca in Highland Park goes above and beyond. They remodeled their entire restaurant for convenience and comfort in order to best serve the people who love them most – which is pretty awesome.

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CREDIT: Yelp / Damon D.

Their food is also epic, which is another reason this place is bringing the good to this hood. The super huarache carne asada is drool worthy. Be right back, driving over there ASAP.

4. CaCao Mexicatessen

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CaCao Mexicatessen is deeply rooted in Mexican history; their mission is to bring the authentic feel of a Mexican deli to the hood, playing homage to the use and history of chocolate.

This Highland Park-adjacent spot is famous for its incredible tacos (particularly the duck carnitas). Looking at the yelp reviews, it’s obvious this place is beloved. If there’s one thing about Highland Park residents, it’s that they are fiercely loyal when it comes to good grub. Also, there’s something about a Mexican, working deli that feels so authentic. It makes you forget that you’re in Los Angeles.

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CREDIT: Yelp / Dan O.

That duck taco though…

5. Metro Balderas

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CREDIT: LA Weekly / Blog

Any place that has regulars for lunch and dinner is definitely a place that is worth noting. When locals and the community feel as if a restaurant has been around for decades, you know they are doing something right. And when you’ve got Yelp reviewers from Mexico City saying this Highland Park spot is the real deal, that’s a really good sign.

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CREDIT: MetroBalderas.com

This Highland Park staple boasts in impressive menu, but the La Tora Baldera is their specialty. You’d be foolish to not try everything on their menu, though!

6. My Taco

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CREDIT: The Culture Trip / Blog

It’s all about family at My Taco in Highland Park. Founded in 1994 by Jorge Garduno, Maria, their daughter Vanessa, and their son George, this colorful joint began only selling tacos on the weekend at a cart. According to their website, they made a name for themselves selling their specialty “tacos de barbacoa de borrego – lamb tacos and consume de chivo – goat stew.” It’s still the heart and soul of the restaurant today, and the recipe was that of Jorge’s late father who was a cook himself in Mexicali, BC.

You can also thank them for introducing carne asada fries to Angelenos.

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CREDIT: Yelp / Sheena K

7. Las Cazuelas

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CREDIT: Las Cazuelas / LA Taco / Los Angeles

Salvadorian food is heaven…and Las Cazuelas is the perfect place to experience it. Besides just having a delicious menu of delectable treats, the cool part about this place (that has been in business since 1985) is that they are dedicated to educating the residents of Highland Park about El Salvador.

If you visit their website, you’ll see a section that says “shop.” Here, you can look around at the series of videos produced by a production company in LA, whose mission it is to show the beautiful and positive side of El Salvador. The pride in culture is evident, and it’s awesome to see the folks behind Las Cazuelas educating Highland Park about it.

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CREDIT: Yelp / Las Cazuelas

Their pupusas are packed with rich flavors, and are fresh off the grill!

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