The city of Inglewood has been in the news a lot lately - perhaps the construction of the largest professional sports stadium in the country inside its borders has something to do with that. But before SoFi Stadium started to rise on the grounds of Hollywood Park, Inglewood had long established itself as one of the most culturally significant communities in LA.
All it takes is one afternoon wandering around Market St. and downtown to understand the true diversity that exists here - Cuban, Somalian, Southern, Ethiopian, Burmese, Mexican, Jamaican, and Nigerian restaurants can all be found within a few blocks of each other, and they’re all tremendous. So before the hordes of belligerent football fans descend upon the area, go discover the restaurants that already make this place so special.
Coni’Seafood isn’t just one of the best restaurants in Inglewood, it’s one of the most essential dining experiences in all of Los Angeles. The Mexican seafood spot on the southern tip of the neighborhood is definitely a bit more expensive than other restaurants in the area, but that’s the price you pay for some of the freshest seafood in the city. You can’t go wrong with any of the ceviches or aguachiles, but the marlin tacos and whole snook need to hit the table, or you can’t actually tell your friends you came here.
Banadir Somali is a family-run restaurant just south of downtown Inglewood and a community institution. The bare-bones space feels like you’re in the basement of a neighborhood rec center, and everybody inside is treating it as such. Big groups gather around large tables, eating massive platters of tremendous Somali food. Goat is the house specialty here, and it’s so packed with flavor it’ll ruin most other versions of goat you’ve ever had. If you arrive around 11am, you’ll be able to order from both their breakfast and lunch menu, which is ideal, because the shukshuka, ful (bean stew), and crepe-like anjero bread is just as good as the goat.
Located directly across the street from the new SoFi Stadium, Blessed Tropical is a family-run Jamaican restaurant that serves jerk chicken worth driving long distances for. The portions are massive, prices are affordable ($12-14 for combo plates), and even if you order several different things, you can be in-and-out in under 20 minutes. And no matter how good the jerk chicken is, let us be clear - you should definitely be ordering other things on the menu, too. Whether it’s marinated oxtail that falls off the bone or a spicy goat curry we’ll happily eat alone in our car before going back into work, this is some of the best food in Inglewood.
With two locations in Inglewood (and one in Crenshaw), Dulan’s is an LA soul food staple. You order cafeteria-style, choosing from big hot plates full of things like oxtails, smothered pork chops with gravy, and fried chicken. You can’t really go wrong regardless of what you choose, but our go-to is the chicken, since a combo with two sides and cornbread costs just $10.95. The wing, leg, and breast you get are hot, crisp, and very juicy, and go well with a helping of collard greens and corn and okra. We also highly recommend the macaroni and cheese - they bake it in a sheet pan, so there are plenty of crispy cheese edges that we can’t get enough of.
The first thing you notice walking into this family-run Belizean restaurant is that it’s a party. Whether you’re here for a quick lunch, a family dinner, or a karaoke event, expect Little Belize to be crowded, festive, and always a great time. As far as the food goes, start with the panades (fried masa stuffed with hash fish) and garnaches (crispy tortillas topped with fried beans, tomatoes, and onions), and end with either chicken or oxtail stew. Both are immensely savory, but it’s the fried plantains on the side that you’ll be talking about - and eating - on the way home.
Inglewood’s Emma Habesha is among the best Ethiopian spots in the city. Our favorite dish here is the special kitfo - minced raw beef - which is served with a super spicy butter, ayb (Ethiopian cottage cheese), and fantastic braised collard greens. The vegan platter is also very good - there are five different kinds of vegetables, including some excellent green beans and a lentil stew. It’s great for a fun lunch with your coworkers, or as a casual date night - but no matter when you’re there, be sure to end your meal with their fantastic coffee service.
This Jamaican spot on Centinela is a popular place for takeout dinner and lunch in Inglewood. You’ll find a crowd of people who work nearby coming in to get their fix of saltfish or jerk chicken. Their jerk chicken combo plate is our go-to move here every time - it’s definitely spicy, but the roast plantains and rice and beans on the side balance it all out nicely. Be sure to order the oxtails, too - they’re fantastically tender, fall right off the bone, and come in a thick, fragrant gravy that we always scoop up with a spoon when we’re finished.
Mutiara is a family-run Burmese restaurant and one of the most affordable spots in Inglewood. Whether it’s a giant plate of mee goreng (spicy fried noodles), lamb curry, or some of the best beef rendang we’ve eaten in LA, almost everything on Mutiara’s menu falls between $5-10. The majority of the menu is available all week, but if you’re able to stop by on the weekends, you’ll be treated to incredible specials like rice noodle fish soup and tea leaf salad that are easily our favorite things on the menu.
Simply Wholesome is one of the most crowded spots in View Park-Windsor Hills. It’s a health food grocery store with a restaurant inside and a huge patio outside, where you can enjoy their smoothies, burgers, and vegetarian tacos. Those smoothies are the reason we’re here most often - they come out quickly, and are packed with fresh fruit, ice cream, and coconut, but if you’re having a full meal, the turkey burgers are your best bet. Both because they’re good, and because they come with Simply Wholesome’s killer French fries - they’re somewhere between a thin fry and a steak fry, not to mention perfectly golden and crisp.
A meal at Veronica’s feels like you’re eating inside someone’s house, not an actual restaurant. The simple space has a few scattered tables and a grainy TV in the corner, but what it lacks in objective charm, it more than makes up for in tremendous Nigerian food. Whether you’re familiar with the cuisine or not, you’re first order of business here needs to be the egusi. It’s a rich, fragrant stew made from dried melon seeds, pumpkin leaves, palm oil, onions, and your choice of protein on top. We usually do a mix of chicken and goat, with a giant ball of fufu (pounded yam and plantains) on the side.
Ms. B’s is an Inglewood institution, and though they recently moved out of their original location on Manchester Blvd. to Imperial Hwy, the Southern soul food spot hasn’t missed a beat. The food is still very good and the new space is even better for large groups. The breaded catfish will always be our go-to here, but frankly, as long as you choose the mac and cheese and their house yams as sides, there’s no such thing as a bad meal here. Tip: Skip the sweet tea in lieu of The Obama - a lemonade-and-peach-tea mixture that puts the Arnold Palmer to shame.
A big Mexican restaurant with four locations around Inglewood, Fiesta Martin on La Brea is an excellent place to come with a big group - especially during a Dodgers game. The tables fill up with families eating enchilada platters, pozoles, and tacos dorados. The grilled fish tacos are excellent - not too oily, and covered in a spicy crema. Their margaritas are also strong as hell, and you can experience them for yourself during one of our favorite Happy Hours in Inglewood, where tacos are $2, and the margaritas are $5.
Walking into this classic diner on Centinela is like walking into the center of the neighborhood - families, big groups of friends, and solo diners who have been coming every week for 35 years, all clamoring to get The Serving Spoon’s Southern breakfast into their stomachs. No matter what day of the week you come here, expect lines out the door, but on the other side of that 45-minute wait are tremendous plates of fried catfish, chicken drumettes, and our favorite waffles in town. If you can snag a seat at the counter, do it and be treated to endless conversation with the waitstaff.
A greasy spoon diner in downtown Inglewood, Rusty Pot serves breakfast sandwiches we’d eat any time of day. The Overload Breakfast Sandwich comes piled with bacon, avocado, tomato, eggs, and aioli, all over sourdough, and is exactly what we want when we’re hungover. The catfish po’boy is another great bet - it comes out looking like a burger, with tomato, lettuce, and pickles under a huge hunk of crispy fried catfish. It’s our favorite thing when we’re here for lunch. The space itself is a bit dark, so we like to sit at one of their tables out on Market Street.
Orleans & York is a local mini-chain serving classic sandwiches from both NYC and New Orleans. The menu at this order-at-the-counter spot covers a lot of ground, so our suggestion is to concentrate mostly on the New Orleans side of things. In particular, the po’boys. The shrimp po’boy is what most people are eating, but for us, the beef hot links with bell peppers and onions is the best sandwich here. And if they’re selling a dessert crumble at the counter, get it.
Inglewood isn’t the best neighborhood to eat in if you’re a vegan, but luckily, Stuff I Eat is picking up a lot of the slack. This all-vegan restaurant in the heart of Market St. is one of the most popular restaurants in the neighborhood - with the lunchtime crowds to prove it. The menu is leans mostly Tex-Mex, with everything from breakfast burritos to an enchilada pie, but our favorite dish is the soul food platter, complete with yams, mac and cheese, kale greens, black eyed peas, cornbread, and BBQ tofu. If the spicy chili is on the specials board, order that, too. Also, they have an amazing theme song, which you can hear on their site.
Tortuga Bay has delicious Mexican food throughout its menu, but you come to this casual order-at-the-counter spot for one thing - the torta ahogada. A Guadalajaran regional staple, it’s a carnitas sandwich on sourdough, smothered with a spicy chile and tomato sauce we wish we could buy in bulk. Add a carnitas taco on the side, and you’ve got an ideal quick-lunch situation.