Step aside Staples Center, The Forum is back in business. The fading concert venue in south LA went under a massive renovation a few years back, and brought it up to the 21st Century. Now, the biggest names in the music industry are back in Inglewood and so are you.
So where in the hell do you eat beforehand?
Sure, there’s decent concessions inside the arena, but what fun is that? You want a taste of the town. But unless you’re in the mood for Sizzler or Pizza Hut, the immediate area can seem like a bit of food desert. Scratch a little deeper though and you’ll find Inglewood (and nearby Leimert Park/Baldwin Hills) to be one of the more underrated food scenes in city. So let’s get at it. Here is where you need to be eating next time you head to The Forum.
South LA’s food scene is arguably the oldest in the city, but it was Post and Beam that brought it up to modern times. The gastropub/pizzeria/southern food emporium in the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza is fantastic, and the ideal spot to grab a quick bite and chug a couple champagne cocktails with the girls before letting it all go at the Luke Bryan concert.
Announcement: LA’s favorite Creole restaurant has reopened. The 50 year old South LA staple went under-the-knife last year, but is back and looking better than ever. This is Cajun country at H and B’s, so expect your catfish, your jambalayas, and your Louisiana hot links. And expect them to be great. Definitely call for a reservation, this place gets packed.
It seems that most people still don’t know that one of the best Mexican restaurants in LA (La Casita Mexicana) opened up a sister restaurant in Baldwin Hills last year. Well, they did. And it’s great. The space is clean, fun, and festive, with many of your favorite La Casita dishes making the trip over from Bell (hello, tres moles). If it’s a weekday concert, hit up the 4pm-8pm Happy Hour that’s easily the best in the area.
If you’re heading up from the South Bay for a Forum concert, stopping at Coni’Seafood is not just a suggestion, it’s a demand. On the south end of Inglewood next to absolutely nothing sits this shockingly modern restaurant serving the best Mexican seafood in Los Angeles. We’re being serious. The pescado zarandeado and marlin tacos might seem a touch adventurous prior to an Iron Maiden concert, but this is your life. Start making the most of it.
Forum or no Forum, if you’re this far south of the 10 and don’t stop at Phillip’s, you’re not to be trusted. Despite the recent wave of trendy BBQ rolling into town, this old-school joint remains one of LA’s finest. There’s a West Adams location, but our move before a show at The Forum is the Leimert Park location, which is nothing more than a pick-up window. Order a pound of the rib tips (with mixed sauce on top), and go to town in the parking with your friends. Kenny Chesney can wait.
What do you get when you have a born-and-raised New York deli owner with an affinity for Cajun food? Orleans & York Deli. The New Orleans/NYC combo spot seems like as terrible an idea as they come, but the jokes on us. Because in two short years, Orleans & York have built a rabid fanbase, three separate locations, and one of the best po’ boys you’ll get in Los Angeles. With it’s Inglewood location only a three minute drive from The Forum, look no further for pre-concert sustenance.
You wouldn’t think vegan food would do well south of the 10 Freeway, but this is 2016, anything is possible. And Stuff I Eat is one of the most popular vegan spots in the whole city, let alone the neighborhood. Who thought a vegan Soul Food Platter was possible, let alone delicious? And only minutes from The Forum, this is your go-to spot for pre-show meatless #EEEEEATS.
This whole-in-the-wall Jamaican place in Leimert Park might not exactly scream pre-concert eats, but trust us, it’s all you’ve ever wanted. Their jerk chicken is obviously great, but the real star of the show is the brown stew chicken. We love you Cha Cha Chicken, but this might be the best bite of Caribbean food we’ve had in LA.
There’s no shortage of soul food joints around these parts, but Dulan’s wins out because it’s downright delicious and mere blocks from the arena. And like any good soul food spot, it all starts with the fried chicken. Light and crispy, Dulan’s won’t put you in a food coma before the show starts either. Although eat enough of that mac & cheese, and we can’t promise you anything.
Three words: Carne Asada Fries. Located in a fairly upscale shopping center, Maria’s is a tiny, clean restaurant that has excellent food across the board. But those carne asada fries are insanely special. Maria’s is right on your route from your 405 exit to The Forum, so you’re completely out of excuses not to stop on the way down to the Rihanna concert.
Tortuga Bay is a pretty delicious Mexican spot top to bottom, but you come to this casual order-at-the-counter spot for one thing - the torta ahogada. A Guadalajaran regional staple, the torta ahogada is actually a carnitas sandwich on sourdough, smothered with the spicy chile and tomato sauce of your dreams. It’s like the Mexican version of a French Dip, except better.
As a standard rule, the closer you get to any airport, the more terrifying life becomes. LAX is no exception. But it’s also home to an immensely strong crop of ethnic restaurants. Aliki’s Greek Taverna falls into that group. The casual, no-frills Greek spot is cranking out your favorite Greek staples better than almost anyone in LA. And this is Greek food, meaning you’ll still be able to stay light on your toes as you sway back and forth for 9 hours at the Phish concert.