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Tamales Elena y Antojitos Returns to Action in Bell Gardens After Announcing Closure

Plus, a rundown of BLVD MRKT’s food, and burger mania at Smorgasburg

Green pozole loaded with queso fresco, chicharrones, spices, chiles, avocado, shredded cabbage, chopped onions, and radishes at Tamales Elena y Antojitos.
Green pozole loaded with toppings at Tamales Elena y Antojitos in Bell Gardens.
Wonho Frank Lee

Celebrated Afro-Mexican restaurant Tamales Elena y Antojitos is reopening this Friday, June 3 in a surprise move, says operator Maria Irra. On May 23, Tamales Elena y Antojitos announced that it would be permanently closing its Bell Gardens restaurant, opting to keep its Watts lunch truck operating as it has for decades. However, Irra made a deal with her parents, including founder Maria Elena Lorenzo and her father, to reopen Tamales Elena y Antojitos with a different menu and model.

Irra, who recently got married and had taken a honeymoon, said her sister Judepth, who had helped operate the restaurant in the past, would be stepping away to pursue other interests, which caused the family to contemplate closing the restaurant. However, Irra was convinced to reopen after her parents said they would help her operate it on a daily basis. The menu will be mostly intact, with the signature tamales and pozole, plus mole verde and pepian. In addition, they’ll have costillitas de puerco (pork riblets), and plan to add la mojarra frita, a fried tilapia specialty that’s common across La Costa Chica, from where the family hails.

In addition, Irra says her mother will prepare daily specials like bistec and other Afro-Mexican specialties from Guerrero. Hours will run 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Thursday to Sunday, offering a bit of a work-life balance for the family, who will continue to work the food truck in Watts. “We’re going to come back stronger because we’re going to have my mom,” says Irra.

What to try in Montebello’s dynamic food hall

Jenn Harris of the Los Angeles Times runs through some of the newer things to try at BLVD MRKT in Montebello, with pizzas from La Crosta, creole dishes from Nola Cajun and Creole, and pupusas from Vchos.

Burger mania this weekend at Smorgasburg

This weekend is the annual Smorgasburger event, with burgers from Goldburger, Cheezus (with its patty melt), Standings Butchery inside the Bad Jew tent (serving a porkstrami burger), and a special Cincinnati Chili cheeseburger collab from Comfy Pup and Hamburgers Nice. The burgers start grilling at 10 a.m. and run until 4 p.m.

Tamales Elena Y Antojitos

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