Compton is just another LA neighborhood in the same way that the Williams sisters are just a couple of tennis players. Widely known as the birthplace of world-class athletes, chart-topping rappers, and massive social movements, this legendary South LA neighborhood is also full of things to eat that are worth traveling for. There’s a torta spot that hosts local punk bands a tamale factory that’ll give you a sweet corn dependency, and much, much more. Here are our 13 favorite restaurants in Compton.
This rock ‘n roll-themed spot on Rosecrans Avenue feels like a cross between a Hot Topic and a Mexican torta restaurant. The walls and tables are covered in band posters and they have a small stage in the back where they host bi-weekly musical performances, but you’re mostly here to consume massive sandwiches. If you’re in the mood for lots of meat, get their La Famosa Cubana Torta, which comes loaded with fatty sausage, crispy chorizo, pulled pork, breaded steak, and a slab of ham. You can also build your own torta or just drop by for a basket of fries and some live punk rock.
Billionaire Burger Boyz started out as a food truck chain. After appearing on a restaurant competition show and expanding as far south as San Diego, they started serving burgers, wings, chicken sandwiches, and jambalaya fries in their first brick-and-mortar space in Compton. All of the food is great, but we keep coming back for the “Billionaire single” burger. It’s got a soft potato bun, a quarter pound of juicy beef, and perfectly melted cheese. It fits in the palm of your hand and has the proportions of a cartoon burger. But, thankfully, this beauty is real.
Birrieria Gonzalez is a family-run truck specializing in goat birria, and while they have multiple locations around town, you can find them parked in front of East Rancho Dominguez Park daily from 8am to 10pm. The cheese in their quesabirria tacos is perfectly-browned on the top layer but still white and gooey as it clings to the consommé-dipped tortilla.The beef birria is also super flavorful, with the spicy consommé still dripping off the shredded meat. Naturally, this is where you'll find some of the best birria in LA.
Just about everything at Los Del Pastor is fantastic. This food-truck-and-tent operation is open every day right on Atlantic Avenue in front of the park, complete with a pastor trompo. They have mulitas, tortas, burritos, and more things we could happily eat every day for the rest of our life. But we keep coming back for the al pastor tacos. They’re simple in the best way possible: a warm corn tortilla, onions, cilantro, and several layers of crispy marinated pork. Sliced into biet-size shards, the al pastor here is notably crispier than other versions we’ve had around town. And you can blanket each taco in salsa verde, pickled jalapenos, or whatever else catches your eye at the self-serve salsa bar.
Compton's Mariscos Tacos De Camarón is a one-stop-shop for every mariscos craving we’ve ever had. Alongside a bunch of other great food trucks lining the curb in front of East Rancho Dominguez Park, this bright blue vessel offers jumbo shrimp cocktails, big bowls of aguachile, fried fish tacos, and more. Our favorite dish here is the ceviche tostada topped with finely-chopped chunks of white fish. It’s bright, fresh, and has just the right balance of textures. There can be a line on the weekends, but we've really never had to wait more than 15 minutes.
Taqueria El Poblano Estilo Tijuana is a small taco spot that serves our favorite carne asada taco in the neighborhood. Each order comes on a handmade corn tortilla rolled into a cone filled with a generous serving of beautifully charred beef, spicy green salsa, and a dollop of guacamole. These very special tacos are the reason you might have to stand in line for 30 minutes or more, even on weeknights. Other very good things here include giant quesadillas, crispy mulitas, and gooey vampiros that are all served on the same handmade corn tortillas you get with the tacos.
The menu at Al Pollos is long, but it’s easier to navigate than a picture book. That’s because you’re at this counter-service spot for the chicken. The charcoal-grilled bird, which is served with a layer of caramelized onions on top, tastes like it’s been slow-smoked, and it’s the reason this place should be top of mind when you’re looking for an inexpensive but delicious dinner in the area. Get the $11 special that includes a quarter chicken, fluffy rice, and flavor-packed pinto beans.
When you hit the eastern stretch of Compton Blvd that’s basically just food trucks and tiny corner stores, it means you’re close to Tamalería La Doña. This counter-service tamale shop has a wide-ranging menu of mostly pork, chicken, and beef options. You can pick up a variety of them for $1.35 each, but be sure to prioritize the elote tamale here— the sweet corn is so moist that it essentially melts in your mouth and they somehow still taste great after being warmed up the next day. Most weekend mornings, the line at Tamaleria La Doña will probably wrap around the block, so stop by in the early afternoon.
In a perfect world, every neighborhood has a late-night spot flipping patties where you can dunk fries till 2am. In Compton, that’s this casual burger joint on Rosecrans Ave. Louis Burgers II opened in 1984, and has been serving styrofoam containers filled with juicy cheeseburgers, crispy chili cheese fries, and plump pastrami sandwiches ever since. They’ve also got options like crunchy tacos and wet burritos on the menu, but we recommend sticking to the fast-food classics here. The drive-thru line can get pretty long around dinnertime, but it’s worth it for the great food and ridiculously tall sign out front that provides a healthy dose of ‘80s nostalgia.
For over 60 years, M & T Donut Shop has been the go-to spot for coffee and donuts in Compton. They open at 4am every single day with a menu of freshly baked old-fashioneds, Long John’s, donut holes, and more. The pastries here are a bit smaller than what you might find at other shops around town, but these soft and airy balls of baked dough will melt in your mouth like cotton candy. M & T is a popular breakfast choice for morning commuters, so we recommend coming as early as possible before they sell out.
El Tio Carnitas
This A-frame building on Long Beach Blvd is home to the best fried pork in Compton. The name alone should tip you off, but just in case you still aren’t sure what to order, look to the cartoon pig in a pot on the sign out front for more clues. The carnitas here have caramelized edges, and tastes like they’ve been slow-cooking in a tub of garlic for days.There are also a bunch of other great dishes here like menudo, pozole, and chicharrón, so come hungry and bring a wad of cash.
Right down the street from El Tio Carnitas is this all-day Mexican restaurant, known for its tostadas, moles, and flautas. Antojitos Los Cuates is about the size of the average dining room, so if you eat inside you’ll feel like a guest of the family. The owner started out on a food truck and pivoted to this full-blown restaurant back in 2020. Our favorite order here is the tostadas de lomo, which comes piled high with juicy pork loin and refried beans. We also love their beef enchiladas covered in sweet mole that’s thick and nutty, but somehow subtle enough to let the other ingredients have some shine. Antojitos Los Cuates is also open for breakfast, so if you want a plate of chilaquiles or some in the eggs and chorizo you won’t have to make yourself, keep this spot in mind.
The best thing about Planet Health Compton is the options. They have a lot of them—all plant-based—including burgers, burritos, lobster rolls, nachos, pasta, tacos, and bowls. Everything is perfectly-seasoned, fresh, and none of these dishes taste like the oversalted version of their non-vegan alter-egos. The buffalo chicken club is stacked tall with shiitake mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, red onions, and a creamy house sauce. And their House Bowl is a lovely mix of meatless sausage, hash browns, pico de gallo, and mixed greens. Stop by on Taco Tuesdays, and you can get three tacos with a side of rice and beans and fresh juice for $15.