Los Angeles’ First Afro-Mexican Restaurant Highlights Historic African Presence in Mexico

Los Angeles’ First Afro-Mexican Restaurant Highlights Historic African Presence in Mexico

Los Angeles’s first Afro-Mexican restaurant, Tamales Elena y Antojitos, is spicing up the city’s Bell Gardens neighborhood with its African and Mexican-inspired cuisine.

Tamales Elena y Antojitos originally opened in July 2020 with pick-up, delivery, and drive-thru options only. The restaurant’s doors are currently open for foodies to dine indoors and enjoy different types of tamales, tacos, moles, plantains, pozole, and black beans.

The traditional Mexican dishes are made with African ingredients that derive from countries fond of jerk spice and oils. The menu was inspired by the southern Mexican state of Guerrero, a beloved culture to chef and owner Maria Elena Lorenzo, Travel Noire reported.

Guerreo’s food boast a variety of African flavors due to the state’s African presence that once existed there and gave birth to several generations of Afro-Mexican people.

“We’re really excited to share my mom’s recipes, to celebrate our Afro-Mexican culture, and for el jueves pozolero,” Lorenzo’s daughter Maria Irra told LA Eater around the restaurants’ opening. “And bringing real Guerrero food to Los Angeles.”

Afrolatina restaurant (Twitter)

Customers can also enjoy popular seafood dishes from Acapulco such as pescadillas—also known as fish empanadas—and seafood cocktails, LA Eater reported. For drinking, the family offers chilate, a cold chocolate beverage with pre-Hispanic origins.

Lorenzo got her start selling Afro-Mexican cuisine in the predominately Black South-Central neighborhood, Watts. She and her daughters later expanded through the opening of Tamales Elena y Antojitos to reach a larger audience.

A tasty dish that highlights the family’s Afro-Mexican heritage is the marinated beef plate served with plantains—a common side in many African meals.

Tamales Elena y Antojitos is open 9 a.m. to 6 p..m. on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. The restaurant is closed on Wednesdays and open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays.

Foodies can also grab a bite to eat at the restaurant’s food truck daily from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Wilmington Ave and 109th St.