Whether you’re headed to the Super Bowl or to a concert, SoFi Stadium, to the curious eater, is a pin worth dropping. Check out everything the neighborhoods of Inglewood, Southwest L.A., Hawthorne and El Segundo have to offer.Less
Savor the goodness of a plate of fried chicken, near-molten mac and cheese and vinegary collard greens with a cornbread muffin propped on the side. Even more of a treat: long-simmered oxtails in gravy, the meat barely cleaving to the bone. Order a slice of sweet potato pie, even if you end up saving it for later. There will likely be a line trailing outside the restaurant. It moves quickly.
Salads (house-made farmers cheese, heirloom tomatoes and beets, and “local kale” among them) make for a multitextured start. The small-bites list is vegetable-centric. Entrees include lamb meatballs on a bed of Tunisian couscous and Tabil Branzino. Did we reorder the stewed chickpeas after inhaling it the first time? We did.
A circular building with a roof shaped like a broad, ornate umbrella, Brolly Hut is an enduring example of a midcentury fad in architecture — known as the Googie movement — that boomeranged bold shapes on structures from L.A. to Vegas and back. But don’t just go to gawk. Order a plate of burgers, a mess of fries and a heap of onion rings for a nostalgic feast of the classic fast food our forefathers designed to lure in drivers.
It’s hard to think of a more celebratory feast than Coni’ Seafood’s pescado zarandeado. It’s a whole snook split in half Nayarit-style, then grilled. You take a piece of the tender fish, put it on a warm tortilla and top it with marinated onions and a bit of salsa. Perfect. Start your meal with a cold beer or icy lemonade and a plate of smoked marlin tacos. But whatever you do, leave room for snook.
When Kim Prince opened her restaurant at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw mall in December 2019, she brought us a taste of hot chicken’s true pedigree. Her aunt is André Prince Jeffries, owner of Prince’s Hot Chicken in Nashville; their family began selling hot chicken to Music City customers in the 1940s. The staff will plead with first-timers to order mild; with medium and certainly spicy you cross into the territory of tingling, maybe even an all-over prickling sensation, and sweats.
Owner Craig Batiste is a fry master and he’s built an entire empire on mountains of French fries. You can’t go wrong with any of the signature concoctions, including lemon garlic crab and shrimp or the BBQ bacon ranch and chicken over fries. But you can also create your own masterpiece.
The extensive menu at Otafuku Noodle House includes deep-fried jidori chicken, shrimp and vegetable tempura, deep-fried shrimp egg rolls, assorted sashimi and grilled fish — but it’s the handmade noodles that inspire so many diners to post their praise. Order the white Seiro Soba or the nutty Kikouchi Soba (100% buckwheat), add some tempura crumbs and spinach or deep-fried mochi and the words “springy,” “chewy” and “silky” will come to mind. Otafuku could become a habit.
At Baldwin Hills Crenshaw’s crown-jewel restaurant, John and Roni Cleveland serve beautifully made versions of feel-good favorites: shrimp and grits deepened with shrimp butter and beef bacon, short ribs under a flurry of fresh horseradish, jerk-seasoned catfish over dirty rice and a fantastic grilled cheese rich with oxtail meat and smoked mozzarella.
Around the corner from a bunch of far better known quick-stop establishments in Inglewood, this unassuming deli on Regent Street has a high-quality, super-affordable spicy chicken sandwich that I find myself turning to for lunch several times a month. The Sammiche Shoppe also makes a vegan chili that could go toe-to-toe with any other. I get mine topped with diced raw onion and shredded cheddar cheese. Also, don’t sleep on the hot links.
Next to a nail salon and a smoke shop, this no-nonsense Mexican deli and grill gets crowded with Inglewood High kids during the weekday (it’s across the street), which is usually around the time I’ll drop in for a torta ahogada, the Tortuga Bay specialty. Made with a perfectly rendered sourdough, sometimes called telera or birote salado, the “drowned torta” is a Guadalajara specialty involving carnitas drenched in a deep-red tomato sauce and a chile sauce to taste.