Latin culture is an integral part of LA; from Spanglish radio stations — my fave is 96.3 La Mega — to the rising Latin dance scene to various delicious food options.
A word of advice — please do not refer to Taco Bell, Del Taco, or even Chipotle as legitimate Mexican food. If you invite an Angelino to any of these places and it’s not a 2am-post-club-drunk-food-run or I’m-late-for-my-freshman-college-class-errand, we will politely decline. For a more authentic Angelino Latin food experience, keep reading.
- Type of cuisine: Cuban. Now if you’re from Miami, before you scoff at us, come check it out first. Porto’s a local fan favorite.
- The Local Experience: It’s is a bakery turned cafe, so you can go there for breakfast, lunch, or dinner; for a quick bite or coffee; or you can order in bulk for events. You order your food at the counter before they seat you and then they bring it to you. I’ve never been to any Porto’s location and not had to wait in line. Each location is technically just outside of the city of LA (but still in LA county), so it could be slightly far if you’re coming from somewhere inside the city.
- What to Order: I’ve never heard anyone complain about any pastry, empanada, coffee, etc ever. People also rave about the potato balls — whenever there’s a potluck, someone always brings them. They’re so popular that Porto’s now serves them on a Potato Ball sandwich. But I must say that my fave dish is the classic: Ropa Vieja. It comes as a sandwich with plantain chips or as a plate with rice, beans, and maduros.
- Type of cuisine: Cuban. Okay so this is also Cuban food but I had to put it on this list because it’s an LA staple!
- The Local Experience: I grew up eating Versailles on a regular basis. The vibe here is more chill than Porto’s and you’ll never have to wait too long here. It’s a casual sit down restaurant where a waiter takes your order. They’re located all throughout the city of LA so it’s pretty convenient in terms of location.
- What to Order: I love the Fomoso Pollo Versailles, or Famous Garlic Chicken.The sauce they cook the chicken in is SO good. It comes with half of a chicken, rice, beans, and plantains — you will def have enough food to eat now and take a full plate home. I’m all about saving money so that’s a win for me.
- Type of cuisine: Peruvian. Mario’s is pretty much the only place I eat Peruvian food in LA, aside from when my Peruvian friend makes homemade Aji de Gallina.
- The Local Experience: Mario’s is a small, family oriented spot on the edge of Hollywood. It’s one of those places you could easily drive past without noticing, aside from the fact that there are people in line around it. There’s pretty much always a line here. You need to go inside and write your name on the list. I’m not a fan of waiting in lines so I like to go for a 15 minute walk and by the time I come back I’m usually next to be seated.
- What to Order: You guessed it — Lomo Saltado. It’s a classic. Anytime you go, half the room is eating this. I mean it when I say Lomo Saltado at Mario’s is really good — there’s a reason I don’t like to get Peruvian food at just any place in LA.
- Type of cuisine: Mexican. There’s no way to list Latin cuisine in LA and not mention Mexico.
- The Local Experience: From the outside, it looks like an unassuming local restaurant on the corner. Inside there’s so much going on and the ambience is really inviting. The chefs are from Mexico, world renowned, and have been in the industry for decades. This place is legit, in terms of both flavor and authenticity.
- What to Order: Technically it’s a taco place, but there are many good options. My dad is Gringo and he loves getting classic enchiladas here. I’m a little more adventurous so I like trying their specials. They vary and are usually written on a chalkboard inside. The most recent dish I tried is “habenero-tequila-lime pasta” — a really cool flavor combo I’d never tried before. My mom loves coming here because of the fresh chips and salsa and fresh aguas frescas. Whether you want the typical enchilada plate or something more gourmet, this is the place to be.
Did you notice that each place is named after the people who opened it? I love being able to support family-owned businesses. Whether you’re a local Angelino, a transplant who moved here in hopes of finding fame, or a visitor for the week, what better way to experience LA than to try some of our diverse food options?
What’s your favorite type of Latin food? Let us know! #BlueWonderEats