Photo Credit: Tamales Elena
Los Angeles Has Its First Afro-Mexican Restaurant And It's Everything
Los Angeles has a new restaurant that fuses the cuisines of Africa and Mexico. Tamales Elena y Antojitos located in Bell Gardens right outside of Downtown Los Angeles is filling the food void for the multicultural city. The first Afro-Mexican restaurant features a vast menu full of different types of tamales, tacos, moles, plantains, pozole, black beans and more.
All of these traditional Mexican dishes are spiced with African ingredients that pack each plate with a punch full of flavor from countries that prioritize jerk spices and oils to exaggerate the flavor notes in their home cooked meals.
The restaurant opened in July 2020 but started out by offering food for pick-up, delivery, and drive-thru orders. Now, the Los Angeles-based restaurant owned and founded by chef Maria Elena Lorenzo, will allow indoor visitors, and she is inspired by the cuisine of her culture that derives from the southern Mexican state of Guerrero.
Guerreren cuisine has many African flavors incorporated in the dishes from the African presence that used to exist in the state and led to future generations of Afro-Mexican individuals.
Lorenzo started out selling Afro-Mexican food in the city of Watts, which is a South-Central neighborhood in Los Angeles that is predominantly Black.
Then, the mom and her daughters opened up Tamales Elena y Antojitos to bring their culture and delicious food to a larger customer base. The dish that spotlights the most Afro-Mexican heritage is the marinated beef plate served with plantains, which is a common side dish in most African cuisines.
The restaurant is open from 9am to 6pm on most days and is closed on Wednesdays. There is a food truck version of the restaurant offered on Wilmington Ave/109th St from 8am to 1pm daily. They both serve Afro-Mexican cuisine and uplift the same flavors from the region of Guerrero.
Tamales Elena y Antojitos is one of the few restaurants in the United States to serve authentic Afro-Mexican cuisine that is made right from the hands of Afro-Latina descendants.