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Highlights From the Rogue 99: In Praise of South Los Angeles

[dropcap size=big]R[/dropcap]ogue 99 in its second edition paid especially close attention to the cuisines of South Los Angeles. Most of the picks in the guide are staples in the black and Latin American community, each offering quality food at affordable prices and each reflecting the unique communities they are situated in. In my guide to South Central, I proposed that this region of L.A. deserves the same prestige and honor that other parts get, with rich cultural history and strong cooking traditions. These restaurants, featured as essential L.A. eats on the Rogue 99, provide a service to their community and make up the gastronomical fabric of some of L.A.’s best food.

Photo Credit: Gabriel Carbajal

Back on the list this year, Chichen Itza is the lauded stand in Mercado La Paloma that serves up phenomenal comida Yucateca. It is probably one of my biggest food muses in the city. The buttery soft cochinita pibil, whether in torta form, taco, or plato is one of my favorite things to eat in L.A. They also offer fantastic tamales yucatecos like the vaporcito, a slippery small red-stained tamal bursting with pork and topped with pickled red onion. This is a crucial pick to understand the eating habits of South L.A.

Photo Credit: Gabriel Carbajal

Coni'Seafood has dazzled L.A. with its Nayarit-style mariscos. Last year they joined The Fields LA, the dining hall of the LAFC stadium, but only a limited menu. The aguachile sauce is served with freshly fried chips, both as an spicy appetizer and warning ahead of the astounding fire of the aguachiles de camaron. You can also find wonderful smoked marlin tacos topped with a small avocado slice. But the famous dish here is the pescado zarandeado, as the Rogue notes, a sliced-open snook fish that is grilled over fire.

Photo Credit: Cesar Hernandez
Photo Credit: Cesar Hernandez

Hawkins House of Burgers is located directly across the street from the Nickerson Garden projects on Imperial. They continue to offer one of the city’s best burgers. What’s most impressive is that they are still cheaper than the “gourmet” burgers sprinkled throughout L.A. The burger patties are thick and well-seasoned, with the normal burger fare: tomato, lettuce, pickles, mustard, and mayo. In a time where smash burgers are dominating the burger landscape, Hawkin’s burgers remain unchanged and continue to impress. The steak fries are always crisp and soft on the inside. It is the perfect American meal and it is Watts.

Photo Credit: Cesar Hernandez

Super Tortas DF has one of the biggest selection of tortas but the crown jewel and crowd favorite is the torta cubana. The cross-section of the torta oozes melted cheese and gives you a moment to admire this amazing  feat in cooking. Each torta is served with a smoky chipotle sauce. One of the best and most satisfying sandwiches is in South Central and it definitely “has everything.”

Photo Credit: Courtsey Dulan’s on Crenshaw
Photo Credit: Courtsey Dulan’s on Crenshaw

Dulan’s fried chicken is always fresh, crisp, and comforting. The mac and cheese is the stuff poetry, it is the kind of mac exists only in the mind. As Tien Nguyen said you’ll probably have leftovers but soon you will thank the gods that you ordered too much food. Always make sure you get dessert, if not to eat there, definitely for later.

There are more South L.A. stops on the Rogue 99, so make sure you go check out what Rogue editors and their team had to say.

Read the Rogue 99 here.

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