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Los Angeles’ First Afro-Mexican Restaurant Opened This Summer
Los Angeles is a city full of options when it comes to food, and every year, the menu of choices expands. With thousands of restaurants already in place, it’s rare that something truly brand new comes to the scene.
Meet chef Maria Elena Lorenzo, Founder of Tamales Elena y Antojitos, Los Angeles’ latest addition to the culinary space representing Afro-Mexican cuisine. The menu draws inspiration from La Costa Chica in Guerrero, a southern Mexican state. Guerrerenses are most famous for their variety of elaborately garnished pozoles, moles, pescado a la talla (fish grilled on stakes), mezcal infusions, and banana leaf-wrapped tamales.
“We’re really excited to share my mom’s recipes, to celebrate our Afro-Mexican culture, and for el jueves pozolero,” said Lorenzo’s daughter Maria Irra. “And bringing real Guerrero food to Los Angeles.”
Chef Lorenzo is not new to the LA scene. She has been serving up Afro-Mexican dishes in the community of Watts for nearly 20 years, one of many vendors pushing shopping carts with coolers full of tamales. On July 15, she proudly opened her first restaurant serving treasured family recipes in Bell Gardens, making Tamales Elena y Antojitos, Los Angeles’s first Afro-Mexican restaurant.
According to Eater Los Angeles, “The new Bell Gardens restaurant will feature traditional banana leaf-wrapped tamales, as well as corn husk-wrapped tamales with meat, vegetarian, and vegan options. Every Thursday will be dedicated to pozole — el jueves pozolero — just like in Guerrero. Lorenzo will serve red, white, and green pozoles, plus a vegan elopozole made with fresh corn. On other days of the week, the menu will still offer red pozole and vegan elopozole.”
The restaurant is currently open every day of the week except for Wednesdays, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.