South LA covers a wide swath of Southern California. The massive area — which is larger than Manhattan — is filled with a collection of 24 cities and five unincorporated county neighborhoods that represent a cultural cross-section of Los Angeles. From old-school spots in Inglewood, Compton, and Lynwood to newer restaurants in View Park/Windsor Hills and everything in between, it’s possible to dine well on dozens of different cuisines within these communities. Below are 22 great places to drink and dine in greater South LA.Read More
22 Incredible Restaurants to Try in South LA
A carnitas specialist, Jamaican-Belizean food, massive breakfasts, and more
Harold & Belle's
Harold & Belle’s still rocks a menu of Louisiana favorites to a large and loyal local clientele. Since 1969, the staff prepare gumbo, po’boys, and a hearty jambalaya.
Highly Likely Café
As far as cafes go, Highly Likely is a solid spot to spend a morning or afternoon. It’s bright and cheery with great music to accompany the breakfast burritos, cochinita pibil bowl, and turkey sandwiches.
Chef Gilberto Cetina has seen plenty of success just south of Downtown — first with Chichen Itza and then with Holbox. The seafood-centric Holbox recently reopened in a larger space to accommodate more crowds for the ceviches, tostadas, and blood clams.
Earle's On Crenshaw
Earle’s Grill is a South LA institution with outdoor seating and a rapid ordering process that include vegan dogs, excessively decadent chili dogs, and so much more.
Stationed in Leimert Park, chef Kyndra McCrary’s daytime restaurant serves jerk chicken, sea bass, vegetarian chili, and gumbo using less fat. Her menu changes regularly, so check her Instagram for the latest offerings.
Pepper's Jamaican Belizean Cuisine
When at Pepper’s, one can sample the curry, brown stewed chicken, or ackee salt fish. But never, ever leave the premises without an order of the oxtails, which are some of the best in Los Angeles.
Look for the lines and the smoke stack emanating from one of three locations for Woody’s Bar-B-Que. The family uses brick ovens with oak wood for the hot links, ribs, sliced beef, and chicken. The classic sides are always necessary with mac and cheese, beans, greens, cornbread, and arguably some of the city’s best potato salad.
If a delightful punch in the taste buds is necessary, get to Jerusalem Chicken and order the lemon garlic chicken. Be warned, this dish is flavorful — savory, pungent, and so incredibly juicy. The bed of rice absorbs plenty of the sauce as well.
Huntington Park’s hidden gem is Guajillo Restaurant. This family-owned business takes pride in its chilaquiles, where options include carne asada, milanesa, and chorizo. Have a seat and eat them while still piping hot.
Court Cafe is the delicious collective restaurant from Taco Mell’s Jermelle Henderson, Bleu Kitchen’s Calvin Johnson, and Keith Garett of All Flavor No Grease. Together, they combine their unique South LA food style like the taco omelet, the crowd-pleasing lobster and waffles, and the colorful mimosa flight.
This unfussy brother-and-sister-owned restaurant offers straightforward Italian-American fare. Look for red checkered tablecloths and the genre’s greatest hits like cheesy garlic bread, New York-style cheesecake, and fettuccini alfredo. Call or check Instagram to see which special lasagna is on deck throughout the weekend.
The Serving Spoon
Those who know are acutely aware of the Serving Spoon’s 42-year history and food. Always required are the cheese grits with catfish and eggs, collard greens, candied yams, or chicken and waffles either at the counter or one of the coveted booths.
World Seafood Fish Market
Order a red snapper platter or just about anything from World Seafood Fish Market on Florence near Western. Everything is fresh and full of flavor including the filet of sole and the hushpuppies.
Diners leave with full bellies thanks to the large portions at Flavor Table. The daytime fare features breakfast combos with Louisiana hot links, salmon croquettes, or a smoked ham steak. But the short ribs and grits are worth the visit.
Gwen's Specialty Cakes
Gwen Vance opened her specialty bake shop over 20 years ago. Arrive early to purchase one of her mini-bite pecan, sweet potato, or apple pies. It’s good to get on Vance’s email list to stay on top of her Southern-style dinners prepared weekly for pick-up in the heart of Inglewood.
Country Style Jamaican Restaurant
The wait is worth it at the frequently busy Country Style Jamaican. This business is successful because of the sheer volume of customers who return regularly for the escovitch fish, jerk chicken, peas and rice, and more.
Carnitas El Artista
Carnitas El Artista started as a backyard operation in 2013, but owner Gustavo Chavez opened his brick-and-mortar restaurant in 2021. His family’s been making carnitas for three generations, so everything on the menu is a specialty.
The Wood Urban Kitchen
The Wood is one of Inglewood’s most popular hangouts where one can find a TV to watch favorite sports teams, strong cocktails, barbecue, and the occasional live music.
Dulan's Soul Food Kitchen
Dulan’s Soul Food Kitchen was recently nominated for a James Beard Award and continues to turn out massive portions of fried or smothered chicken, fish, and pork chops, along with stewed oxtails and incredible sides to adoring crowds.
Banadir Somali Restaurant
It’s rare to find Somali food in Los Angeles, but one of the few prepares some of Inglewood’s most flavorful menus. Banadir Somali Restaurant serves halal meats that are marinated and then slow-roasted for three hours and served with a side of rice, a simple salad, and a side of bas bas (a traditional bright green sauce is made with basil, jalapeno, and cilantro).
Jim Dandy Fried Chicken
For decades South LA institution Jim Dandy serves the golden-fried standard of fried chicken in the city. Also, don’t skip the corn fritters, deep fried and dusted with powdered sugar, to all but ensure you’re a nap after lunch.
Hawkins House of Burgers
Endless fans flock to Hawkins in Watts, beguiled by the towering burgers that come fresh off the grill. The space across from Nickerson Gardens carries few frills, but that’s hardly the reason to avoid this 83-year restaurant.