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Beloved Afro-Mexican Restaurant Tamales Elena y Antojitos Closes in Bell Gardens

Plus, 94th Aero Squadron closes, and LA’s great resignation for restaurant workers

Maria Elena Lorenzo pouring chilate, a pre-Hispanic cold chocolate beverage.
Tamales Elena y Antojitos owner Maria Elena Lorenzo
Wonho Frank Lee
Mona Holmes is a reporter for Eater Los Angeles and a regular contributor to KCRW radio. She has covered restaurants, dining, and food culture since 2016. In 2022, the James Beard Foundation nominated her for a Jonathan Gold Local Voice Award.

After two years in Bell Gardens, Los Angeles’s beloved Afro-Mexican restaurant Tamales Elena y Antojitos announced on its website that the two-year-old restaurant is permanently closed. The family-operated food trailer remains open for business at Wilmington and 109 Street in Watts.

Chef Maria Elena Lorenzo and her family opened the drive-thru and sit-down restaurant in July 2020, where she made a significant splash serving regional Afro-Latino specialty dishes from La Costa Chica in the Mexican state of Guerrero. Guerrerenses are known for their pozoles, moles, pescado a la talla (fish grilled on stakes), and banana leaf-wrapped tamales. Lorenzo started her business over 20 years ago as a Watts street food vendor, eventually operating out of a mobile trailer before opening this first full-time location. The Watts trailer is open daily from 8 p.m. until 1 p.m., except Wednesdays.

The great resignation, but for LA’s restaurant workers

The Los Angeles Times took a close look at the mass of restaurant and hospitality workers that left the industry since the early days of the pandemic.

Protest at Smorgasburg

While Smorgasburg fans walked through the weekly market on Sunday, May 22, the Chinatown Community for Equitable Development staged a protest. CCED cites a number of reasons for the protest via Instagram, but the effort was directed at developer Atlas Capital and the Smorgasburg operators, stating its fight for housing and economic justice in Chinatown, and “disrupting” Atlas Capital from profiting off of AAPI month.

Santa Monica extends outdoor dining parklet permits through the fall

Originally launched as a pilot ordinance during the pandemic, Santa Monica officials announced its extension along with fee waivers for temporary use permits that allow for sidewalk dining through September 30.

Cinque Terre West does brunch

Cinque Terre West launched an almost daily brunch menu from noon to 2 p.m. from Tuesday through Saturday. Make a reservation and head over to that cozy patio for omelets and baked eggs with arrabbiata sauce.

Tamales Elena Y Antojitos

8101 Garfield Avenue, , CA 90201 (562) 674-3043 Visit Website