In the 1920s, Inglewood was a predominantly white neighborhood, but after new laws made housing discrimination illegal (followed by the 1965 Watts riots), African Americans started to move into the city as white residents left, forming a predominantly Black community. These days, even as the neighborhood is undergoing gentrification, Inglewood’s population is more than 40 percent Black. It comes as no surprise that more recent African immigrants have also settled in this area, making it home to many of the African restaurants in Los Angeles beyond Little Ethiopia.
West African food is still largely under the radar in the U.S. outside of the African diaspora, despite a TikTok-viral fufu challenge in early 2021 that brought many new customers to local West African restaurants. In Inglewood, it’s common to find cuisines from countries in West Africa, like Nigeria. It isn’t just West African food, though, in the area; there are also Ethiopian restaurants, as well as the Los Angeles area’s only Somali restaurant. At African restaurants in Inglewood, you can trace how rice and beans, a staple of many cultures in the Americas, developed in regions across Africa and, at the same time, how colonization impacted Somali cuisine, apparent in dishes like spaghetti topped with suugo suqaar and its common companion: banana. Below are five African restaurants to try when exploring the dining scene in Inglewood.
Aduke opened in LA only three years ago, quickly winning over critics and fans with its smoky jollof rice and creamy egusi stew. They also offer harder-to-find Nigerian dishes like asaro, mashed yam cooked in tomato sauce, served with your choice of meat and spinach. Different types of swallows — the ball of starch West Africans eat with their stews — are available here, from the more common fufu, made of yam, to semo, made of semolina flour. 1117 W. Manchester Boulevard, Suite C, Inglewood, 90301, (213) 261-0737
Going to Banadir, LA’s only Somali restaurant, is like walking into a hub for the local Somali community, where friends and family are digging into large plates of goat meat that has been slow-roasted in the oven and served with basmati rice and salad. Don’t miss the accompanying bas bas sauce packed with cilantro and jalapeno. Breakfast showcases Somalia’s different cultural influences, with the Italian-inflected suqar (sauteed meat) served with anjera — a flatbread similar to Ethiopian injera. 137 Arbor Vitae Street, Inglewood, 90301, (310) 419-9900
Before opening her restaurant, Emma worked in Little Ethiopia, but since there are a number of Ethiopians living in Inglewood, including Emma herself, she decided to serve that community. The sweet and spicy doro wot, simmered for more than four hours, is served with homemade fresh cheese. Her fluffy injera, fermented for three days, is perfect to scoop up the thick, spicy chickpea stew called shiro. Finish the meal with the traditional coffee service. Bonus: Emma Habesha has a large outdoor dining area. 726 N. La Brea Avenue, Inglewood, 90302, (424) 331-5650
Veronica Shoyinka has been serving the Nigerian community around Los Angeles for 30 years at her restaurant, nicknamed “The FuFu Land.” Those who’ve never tried Nigerian food may find the pounded yam a more familiar taste than cassava-based fufu. It’s served with one of three stews: egusi (spinach and pumpkin seed), okra-based ogbono, and edikanikon — a stew typically made with Nigerian greens, but made here with spinach. All the stews along with jollof rice served with red stew, can be served with a choice of meat including fried fish or goat. 401 E. Hillcrest Boulevard, Inglewood, 90301, (310) 673-4890
Airport Royal Cuisine
Airport Royal Cuisine is the only restaurant in LA serving up Ghanaian food, which shares similarities with Nigerian — jollof rice is beloved in the two countries, and both cuisines feature starchy swallows served with various stews. In Ghana, fufu is typically a mix of cassava and another ingredient; at Airport Royal, the fufu is made of plantains and served with a tomato-based soup called light soup. One of the most popular items, both in Ghana and at this restaurant, is waakye, a dish of rice and beans cooked with red dried sorghum, and topped with shito, a savory and slightly spicy shrimp-and-herring paste. 4952 W. Century Boulevard, Inglewood, 90304, (562) 413-2294