The Best Pozole In LA
The time has come for some hot, smoky, and hominy-filled pozole.
Once December 1st rolls around (or it finally dips below 70ºF), Mexican families can officially ring in the heavily-anticipated pozole season. This hearty meat and hominy stew is a national tradition in Mexico and a dish that’s closely associated with wintertime and the Christmas season. Pozole can come in white, green, and red variations, each with its own unique flavors from its respective fat content, chiles, tomatillos, and choice of protein. Besides being super fragrant and full of exciting textures from its slow-cooked meat and nixtamalized corn, pozole just feels like a warm hug during those “bone-chilling” winter nights in LA.
With a seemingly never-ending list of Mexican restaurants in town, many spots seasonally offer this spicy stew on their menus, while others serve it year-round or solely on the weekends. Rather than forcing you to search far and wide for a bowl, we’ve gone ahead and compiled a list of our 10 favorite pozoles across the city. We also highly recommend checking out the wonderful pozole guides at L.A. Taco that helped point us in the right direction.
Sandwiched between two insurance offices, Tortas Ahogadas Ameca is a colorful, family-owned shop that sells far more than just its signature wet sandwiches. We happen to love their other Jalisco specialties, including their bowls of steaming pozole rojo. This Montebello spot makes a crimson red and deeply flavorful broth full of red chile. You can taste the sweet smokiness from the ancho and guajillo peppers that blend nicely with the shredded pork. The hominy in this soup is also perfectly cooked and not too chewy, bringing some excellent textural contrast along with the fresh radish and cabbage. There’s also no harm in upgrading your pozole to a soup-sandwich situation, but that’s probably just us daydreaming about their tortas ahogadas.
Las Glorias del Buen Comer is a casual order-at-the-window operation specializing in Mexican comfort food, some plant-based options, and all-day breakfast for those needing a 2pm chorizo scramble. We’re also big fans of the covered outdoor patio at this Silver Lake spot that’s full of hanging plants and string lights that tune out the nearby buzz from the 101. Here they serve pozole blanco, which lacks the tang of tomatillos or the heat from red chiles and instead gets most of its flavor from its hearty pork broth, herbs, starchy hominy, garlic, and onion. With fewer bold flavors competing with the pork, you may want to add a splash of salsa or some extra citrus to take things up a notch. And if you’re looking for a companion to your pozole, we like the salty machaca scramble with onions, tomatoes, and bell peppers, or their wet burritos that are very good, very big, and covered in a tomatoey salsa roja.
This Eagle Rock restaurant scores highly in our books for a handful of reasons–like their 10/10 name, excellent duck carnitas, and fig mole sauce that is decadent enough to make a piece of cardboard look oddly appetizing. We suggest balancing this smoky and sweet bite with something on the tangier side, like their pozole verde. You’ll immediately notice how cloudy the soup is from the rich pork fat that floats to the top. In fact, this pozole is pretty pork-heavy with generous amounts of meat in each bowl, but we like how balanced this soup is, with tart tomatillos, onions, and fresh cilantro cutting down the richness. This pozole also doesn’t hold back on the chiles either, so expect some open sinuses and minor mouth-breathing between spoonfuls.
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Tamales Elena Y Antojitos is known for its delicious Afro-Mexican cuisine and its attention to detail in every dish on the menu, like their banana leaf pork tamales, crispy pescadillas, and range of pozole options. At this Bell Gardens restaurant, you can get the spicy soup in all three colors and with plenty of toppings, like avocado, crispy chicharron, and squeaky cubes of panela cheese to throw into your bowl. The pozole verde has a nice brightness from the tomatillos and fresh chiles, both of which complement all the hearty toppings. The pork headstock is also quite fragrant and can handle more heat if you want to sprinkle chile flakes on top or play it safe with some extra lime and crunchy cabbage.
Pork is (literally) the name of the game at Chicharroland, where chicharrones and carnitas are the house specialties. At this South Park shop, you can enjoy pork rinds by the bagful or in a spicy guisado de chicharron, and nicely-seared gorditas stuffed with their signature carnitas too. And if you’re lucky enough to stop by on the weekends, you can try their popular caldos, including an excellent pozole verde that’s actually made with chicken. The poultry in this pozole yields a lighter, less fatty broth, but there’s still enough chicken fat floating at the top to balance out the acid in the soup. You get tons of brightness from the tomatillos and fresh toppings like cilantro, radish, and white onion, along with plenty of shredded chicken and some nicely al dente hominy.
Pico-Union’s El Parian is an “if-you-know-you-know” kinda place when it comes to Jalisco-style goat birria. After decades of business, this local shop still serves bowls of slow-roasted goat in a flavorful, dark red consommé and pounds of birria tatemada (aka oven roasted) with fresh tortillas on the side. While maybe not as popular as the birria, El Parian’s pozole is worth your full, undivided attention. It comes in a delicious red broth with plenty of dried chiles, garlic, and sweet oregano stewed together with chunks of tender pork. The soup also gets served with a side of chicharron with bits of dried meat still attached, all of which gets gently rehydrated in the soup.
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Another Jalisciense spot, La Chiva Loca specializes in regional dishes like torta ahogadas, carne en su jugo, and of course, pozole rojo. This spicy caldo comes full of chewy hominy and big portions of shredded pork that make the soup cloudy and rich with meaty flavor. There’s also a subtle heat that lingers in the background, but it’s not as intensely flavorful as some of the other options on this list. Don’t get us wrong, you can definitely still taste the chiles and delicious rendered fat in this pozole, but everything else in this stew feels pretty subtle–make sure to go heavy on the onion, cabbage, and lime for some extra texture and tang.
La Cenaduria gives off major “Live Laugh Love” energy with its wall decorations reminding us that life is all about family, friends, and sippin’ hot cacao. But tastes in interior decor aside, this Montebello cafe serves some tasty, straightforward Mexican comfort dishes, like crispy sopes with carne asada and a delicious egg-battered chile relleno. The pozole rojo also happens to be pretty good and comes in a dark red broth with plenty of dried chiles, oregano, and garlic coming through. While there’s a good amount of rendered fat in the broth as well, the soup’s pork isn’t too rich and comes as big chunks floating around tons of chewy hominy. We should also mention their homemade tortillas that should 100% make a guest appearance in your pozole-related endeavors.
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East Hollywood’s El Comal is exactly where you should go when you feel like you got pummeled by a steamroller and are in need of some hearty soup to patch you up. This strip mall restaurant makes particularly good chicken and beef caldos, and weekends here also include both a spicy menudo with pigs’ feet and some very good pozole rojo. The pozole has a rich, cloudy red broth that makes us wonder why we spent so much money on overpriced bone broth back in 2019. All the pork’s meat and bones release their nutrients and natural flavors to create this chile-infused soup that has some acid, some salt, and a bit of lingering heat that you don’t feel until your upper respiratory system decides to purge itself.
Madre has certainly carved out a place for itself in LA’s Mexican food scene with its three locations, impressive mezcal collection, and great Oaxacan dishes like tamales with nutty mole negro and soft memelas with chorizo sausage. If you stop by their Palms and Torrance outposts, you’ll also come across a delicious chicken pozole that combines the best parts of chicken soup and pozole’s heartier pork variations. This spicy variation is well seasoned to create a salty chicken broth with just the right amount of rendered fat and a smoky kick. While there’s plenty of flavor going on as is, we still love to add plenty of cilantro, white onion, and lime to top off this delicious caldo.