LAReview

Tamales Elena Y Antojitos is permanently closed

photo credit: Jakob Layman

Tamales Elena Y Antojitos review image
9.1

Tamales Elena Y Antojitos

To put it simply, there isn’t another restaurant in town doing what Tamales Elena Y Antojitos is doing. For one, it’s literally the only Afro-Mexican restaurant in LA—and possibly the country. Secondly, its Guerrero-style menu is filled with some of the most exciting and delicious food we’ve eaten anywhere in LA.

Guerrero is a state in Mexico on the Pacific Coast, north of Oaxaca, and home to a large Afro-Mexican population—and an extensive culinary history of its own. This is where chef Maria Elena Lorenzo and her family are from, and where the recipes that can now be found on Tamales Elena’s menu were originally born. Think pozoles, pork tamales and beef tongue guisado, but the highlight of the menu, are the crispy fish tacos called pescadillas. These thin, crispy tacos come filled with perfectly stewed fish, and we recommend getting at least three orders—one for you now, one for you in five minutes, and one for five minutes after that. You don’t need to worry about reservations (because they don’t take them), and outside of a few peak hours on the weekends, you’ll always be able to find an open table or two on the tiny, wrap-around patio. On most days, the restaurant closes at 4pm, so if you're in the mood to experience the soul-penetrating scent of pozole, you'll have to plan a trip here during the day. Maybe you’re planning a lunch date or hoping to show out-of-towners a version of LA they don’t see on reality TV. Either way, nothing beats a sunny morning or afternoon at Tamales Elena.

Food Rundown

Pescadillas

These hard-shelled fish tacos sit pretty inconspicuously at the bottom of the taco section, but they are not to be ignored. In fact, they should be ordered in bulk. Thin, crispy, and filled with perfectly stewed fish, this is easily a top-ten taco in LA already, and one of many reasons you need to get in your car right now and drive to Tamales Elena.

Jakob Layman

Tamales Elena Y Antojitos review image

Pozole

Tamales Elena serves a few different kinds of pozole throughout the week (red, green, and white, plus a vegan elopozole), but just know that whichever is on the menu the day you go, it’s going to be incredible. Made from pork head stock and cooked with hominy, this fragrant soup comes garnished with everything from avocado to shredded cabbage to dried oregano and chile flakes. Also, come on Thursdays for el jueves pozolero, where each type of pozole is served.

Jakob Layman

Tamales Elena Y Antojitos review image

Tamales

Instead of fighting with yourself over whether to get the pork in red salsa or the chicken in green salsa, just order both and walk away thrilled. The tamales themselves are light, moist, and not so big that you can’t eat two in one sitting.

Jakob Layman

Tamales Elena Y Antojitos review image

Lengua Con Platano Macho Guisado

If you’re going to get one thing off the guisado section of the menu, make sure it’s the beef tongue with plantains. The tongue itself is fantastic with a mild, slightly rich flavor that balances perfectly with the sweetness of the plantains.

Tamales Elena Y Antojitos review image

Featured in

.
The Meals That Got Us Through 2020 guide image
Guide
The Meals That Got Us Through 2020

It wasn’t easy, but we made it through the worst year ever. And these meals helped - a lot.

The Most Exciting New Restaurants Of 2020 guide image
Guide
The Most Exciting New Restaurants Of 2020

From Los Angeles to London, these are the most exciting new restaurants to come out of this year.

The Best New Tacos In LA guide image
Guide
The Best New Tacos In LA

Our favorite new tacos from all across the city.

Suggested Reading

.
La Casita Mexicana review image
8.5
Review
La Casita Mexicana

La Casita Mexicana in Bell is worth the drive no matter where in the city you're coming from.

Rocio’s Mexican Kitchen review image
8.3
Review
Rocio’s Mexican Kitchen

Incredible mole worth the drive to Bell Gardens.

Guelaguetza review image
8.1
Review
Guelaguetza

Guelaguetza is a Oaxacan spot in Koreatown that’s one of the best Mexican restaurants in Los Angeles.

Madre review image
8.2
Review
Madre

Madre is a big, modern Oaxacan restaurant in Torrance with an even bigger collection of mezcal behind the bar.