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Green pozole from Tamales Elena y Antojitos in Bell Gardens being held.
Green pozole from Tamales Elena y Antojitos in Bell Gardens.
Wonho Frank Lee/Eater LA

15 Fantastic Restaurants to Try in Southeast LA

Where to eat in the Gateway Cities of Downey, Bell Gardens, Pico Rivera, Lynwood, and Cudahy

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Green pozole from Tamales Elena y Antojitos in Bell Gardens.
| Wonho Frank Lee/Eater LA

The area southeast of Downtown is a collection of cities and neighborhoods that doesn’t necessary have natural boundaries or even strong freeway divisions to mark its location. But Southeast LA, or sometimes called the Gateway Cities, is a place rich in delicious cooking and fantastic restaurants. Driven mainly by a pre-dominantly Latino population, the cities of Downey, Bell Gardens, Bell, Lynwood, South Gate, Cudahy, Pico Rivera, and Huntington Park are notable municipalities, though there are certain others like Norwalk, Cerritos, and Paramount that count as well. However, for the purposes of this guide, Eater LA has rounded up 15 essential restaurants to try in the ‘upper’ part of Southeast Los Angeles county, from dripping suckling pig tacos smothered in spicy mustard salsa to the incredible moles of Oaxaca.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Ray's Halal Texas Bbq

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Rene “Ray” Ramirez recently rebranded his popular Huntington Park barbecue restaurant as ‘Ray’s Halal Texas BBQ,” in a way to challenge himself and venture into a new territory. Ramirez says no one in LA or California for that matter serves halal Texas-style barbecue, and the pitmaster thinks it’s a way to cater to an untapped niche. Ultimately, for those adhering to a halal diet, it’s a bit of a godsend to have such stellar smoked meat with this certification. —Matthew Kang

Barbecue from Ray’s Halal Texas BBQ in Huntington Park.
Barbecue from Ray’s Halal Texas BBQ in Huntington Park.
Matthew Kang/Eater LA

Los Alpes Ice Cream Parlor

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For the largest, most drool-inducing selection of paletas in town, head to Los Alpes Ice Cream Parlor in Huntington Park. Fernando Flores, along with his wife, Margarita, opened the shop in 1979 and make over 50 varieties of paletas de aguas (water-and-juice-based pops) and paletas de crema (milk- or cream-based pops). The paletas de aguas, which come in flavors like tamarind (tamarindo), hibiscus (jamaica), and alfalfa, are the most refreshing bunch, while the paletas de crema are a touch richer with flavors like arroz (rice), Mexican eggnog (rompope), and vanilla. —Cathy Chaplin

Dirty South Soulfood

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This affordable soul food restaurant in South Gate serves a daily buffet of Southern classics like smothered pork, mac and cheese, barbecue ribs, smothered oxtails, and fried catfish. The restaurant also delivers. —Matthew Kang

La Huasteca Restaurant

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With a location inside the Plaza Mexico, this all-around classic Mexican restaurant opened in 2004 serving a massive array of dishes like queso fundido, ensalada de nopales, cochinta pibil, and camarones a la diabla. —Matthew Kang

La Pasta

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Lynwood’s La Pasta focuses on casual Italian fare done with heart. The family-run restaurant offers housemade pasta at its core, while also turning out pizzas, classics like chicken parmesan meatballs, and calamari for all to enjoy. Don’t feel like eating inside? There’s a parking lot patio available as well. —Farley Elliott

La Casita Mexicana

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Operated by chefs Jaime Martín del Campo and Ramiro Arvizu, this longtime Bell establishment is a classic fonda serving Mexican favorites like chiles en nogada, enchiladas de mole, and cecina de res. La Casita Mexicana has long been the standard bearer of finer Mexican fare in Los Angeles. —Matthew Kang

Jaime Martin del Campo and Ramiro Arvizu of La Casita Mexicana.
Jaime Martin del Campo and Ramiro Arvizu of La Casita Mexicana.
Elizabeth Daniels/Eater LA

Los Sabrosos al Horno

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On weekends, taco fans will find Los Sabrosos al Horno serving whole suckling pig tacos covered with a spicy mustard salsa. Founder David Delfin hails from Nayarit, where this style of roasted suckling pig is the regional specialty. —Matthew Kang

Pork tacos from Los Sabrosos al Horno in Cudahy.
Pork tacos from Los Sabrosos al Horno in Cudahy.
Wonho Frank Lee/Eater LA

Tamales Elena Y Antojitos

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Bell Gardens gained a major new restaurant in Tamales Elena y Antojitos, a tamal and pozole restaurant from Maria Elena Lorenzo. Everything here is excellent, from the banana leaf-wrapped tamales to the soulful pozoles, though don’t sleep on the guisados. There’s a handy drive-thru too. —Matthew Kang

Tamales Elena family with five daughters, Maria Elena Lorenzo and Juan Irra.
Tamales Elena family with five daughters, Maria Elena Lorenzo and Juan Irra.
Wonho Frank Lee/Eater LA

Rocio’s Mexican Kitchen

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The matron of great Mexiccan cooking in Bell Gardens, Rocio Camacho is a mole chef without peer in Los Angeles. Her enduring restaurant Rocio’s Mexican Kitchen serves a wide range of dishes like flautas, chiles en nogada, enchiladas, and plus a variety customizable mole plates. —Matthew Kang

Chef Rocio Camacho stands inside her colorful Mexican restaurant, wearing a white shirt.
Chef Rocio Camacho wearing a colorful traditional Mexican shirt.
Bill Esparza

El Coraloense

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18-year-old mariscos restaurant El Coraloense opened this location in Bell Gardens back in 2003 serving a wide array of fresh seafood, tacos, ceviches, and coctels. —Matthew Kang

Teddy's Red Tacos Downey

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One of the places that popularized birria de res not just in LA but across the U.S., Teddy’s has a drive-thru and fast casual location in Downey serving its signature red-tinted birria de res tacos, quesadillas, quesatacos, and more. —Matthew Kang

Teddy’s Red Tacos
Teddy’s Red Tacos.
Trent Bozeman/Eater LA

Fatimas Grill

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Downey’s busiest restaurant is also maybe it’s most fantastically fun. Fatima’s Grill pulses during business hours as fans from all over the state (and from TikTok) converge to order overclocked fries, sandwiches, and burritos served with plenty of Cheetos dust and nacho cheese. For big flavor and big fun, there’s maybe no better place to eat.

Fatima’s Grill in Downey.
Fatima’s Grill in Downey.
Farley Elliott/Eater LA

Porto's Bakery and Cafe

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Popular Cuban bakery and cafe Porto’s has a busy location along Firestone serving the full complement of sandwiches, salads, pastries, and cakes for a rabid fanbase. The pre-ordering system in the covered parking lot works really well. —Matthew Kang

Porto’s Bakery pastry case.
Pastry case at Porto’s Bakery.
Porto’s Bakery

Gaucho Grill

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Downey’s bustling Gaucho Grill is the stuff of Argentine dreams. The growing chain, which hopes to add a Pasadena location in the near future, focuses on large steaks and starters like empanadas, grilled cheeses, and plenty of seafood across a sprawling menu. —Farley Elliott

Dal Rae Restaurant

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Classic midcentury steakhouse Dal Rae endures in Pico Rivera serving a familiar set of throwback dishes like its famous pepper steak, crab cake, caesar salad, veal cutlet parmesan, and lobster thermidor. It’s the perfect place to ride up in a classic car with full dinner attire in the middle of the week. —Matthew Kang

Dal Rae in Pico Rivera.
Dal Rae in Pico Rivera.
Yelp

Ray's Halal Texas Bbq

Barbecue from Ray’s Halal Texas BBQ in Huntington Park.
Barbecue from Ray’s Halal Texas BBQ in Huntington Park.
Matthew Kang/Eater LA

Rene “Ray” Ramirez recently rebranded his popular Huntington Park barbecue restaurant as ‘Ray’s Halal Texas BBQ,” in a way to challenge himself and venture into a new territory. Ramirez says no one in LA or California for that matter serves halal Texas-style barbecue, and the pitmaster thinks it’s a way to cater to an untapped niche. Ultimately, for those adhering to a halal diet, it’s a bit of a godsend to have such stellar smoked meat with this certification. —Matthew Kang

Barbecue from Ray’s Halal Texas BBQ in Huntington Park.
Barbecue from Ray’s Halal Texas BBQ in Huntington Park.
Matthew Kang/Eater LA

Los Alpes Ice Cream Parlor

For the largest, most drool-inducing selection of paletas in town, head to Los Alpes Ice Cream Parlor in Huntington Park. Fernando Flores, along with his wife, Margarita, opened the shop in 1979 and make over 50 varieties of paletas de aguas (water-and-juice-based pops) and paletas de crema (milk- or cream-based pops). The paletas de aguas, which come in flavors like tamarind (tamarindo), hibiscus (jamaica), and alfalfa, are the most refreshing bunch, while the paletas de crema are a touch richer with flavors like arroz (rice), Mexican eggnog (rompope), and vanilla. —Cathy Chaplin

Dirty South Soulfood

This affordable soul food restaurant in South Gate serves a daily buffet of Southern classics like smothered pork, mac and cheese, barbecue ribs, smothered oxtails, and fried catfish. The restaurant also delivers. —Matthew Kang

La Huasteca Restaurant

With a location inside the Plaza Mexico, this all-around classic Mexican restaurant opened in 2004 serving a massive array of dishes like queso fundido, ensalada de nopales, cochinta pibil, and camarones a la diabla. —Matthew Kang

La Pasta

Lynwood’s La Pasta focuses on casual Italian fare done with heart. The family-run restaurant offers housemade pasta at its core, while also turning out pizzas, classics like chicken parmesan meatballs, and calamari for all to enjoy. Don’t feel like eating inside? There’s a parking lot patio available as well. —Farley Elliott

La Casita Mexicana

Jaime Martin del Campo and Ramiro Arvizu of La Casita Mexicana.
Jaime Martin del Campo and Ramiro Arvizu of La Casita Mexicana.
Elizabeth Daniels/Eater LA

Operated by chefs Jaime Martín del Campo and Ramiro Arvizu, this longtime Bell establishment is a classic fonda serving Mexican favorites like chiles en nogada, enchiladas de mole, and cecina de res. La Casita Mexicana has long been the standard bearer of finer Mexican fare in Los Angeles. —Matthew Kang

Jaime Martin del Campo and Ramiro Arvizu of La Casita Mexicana.
Jaime Martin del Campo and Ramiro Arvizu of La Casita Mexicana.
Elizabeth Daniels/Eater LA

Los Sabrosos al Horno

Pork tacos from Los Sabrosos al Horno in Cudahy.
Pork tacos from Los Sabrosos al Horno in Cudahy.
Wonho Frank Lee/Eater LA

On weekends, taco fans will find Los Sabrosos al Horno serving whole suckling pig tacos covered with a spicy mustard salsa. Founder David Delfin hails from Nayarit, where this style of roasted suckling pig is the regional specialty. —Matthew Kang

Pork tacos from Los Sabrosos al Horno in Cudahy.
Pork tacos from Los Sabrosos al Horno in Cudahy.
Wonho Frank Lee/Eater LA

Tamales Elena Y Antojitos

Tamales Elena family with five daughters, Maria Elena Lorenzo and Juan Irra.
Tamales Elena family with five daughters, Maria Elena Lorenzo and Juan Irra.
Wonho Frank Lee/Eater LA

Bell Gardens gained a major new restaurant in Tamales Elena y Antojitos, a tamal and pozole restaurant from Maria Elena Lorenzo. Everything here is excellent, from the banana leaf-wrapped tamales to the soulful pozoles, though don’t sleep on the guisados. There’s a handy drive-thru too. —Matthew Kang

Tamales Elena family with five daughters, Maria Elena Lorenzo and Juan Irra.
Tamales Elena family with five daughters, Maria Elena Lorenzo and Juan Irra.
Wonho Frank Lee/Eater LA

Rocio’s Mexican Kitchen

Chef Rocio Camacho stands inside her colorful Mexican restaurant, wearing a white shirt.
Chef Rocio Camacho wearing a colorful traditional Mexican shirt.
Bill Esparza

The matron of great Mexiccan cooking in Bell Gardens, Rocio Camacho is a mole chef without peer in Los Angeles. Her enduring restaurant Rocio’s Mexican Kitchen serves a wide range of dishes like flautas, chiles en nogada, enchiladas, and plus a variety customizable mole plates. —Matthew Kang

Chef Rocio Camacho stands inside her colorful Mexican restaurant, wearing a white shirt.
Chef Rocio Camacho wearing a colorful traditional Mexican shirt.
Bill Esparza

El Coraloense

18-year-old mariscos restaurant El Coraloense opened this location in Bell Gardens back in 2003 serving a wide array of fresh seafood, tacos, ceviches, and coctels. —Matthew Kang

Teddy's Red Tacos Downey

Teddy’s Red Tacos
Teddy’s Red Tacos.
Trent Bozeman/Eater LA

One of the places that popularized birria de res not just in LA but across the U.S., Teddy’s has a drive-thru and fast casual location in Downey serving its signature red-tinted birria de res tacos, quesadillas, quesatacos, and more. —Matthew Kang

Teddy’s Red Tacos
Teddy’s Red Tacos.
Trent Bozeman/Eater LA

Fatimas Grill

Fatima’s Grill in Downey.
Fatima’s Grill in Downey.
Farley Elliott/Eater LA

Downey’s busiest restaurant is also maybe it’s most fantastically fun. Fatima’s Grill pulses during business hours as fans from all over the state (and from TikTok) converge to order overclocked fries, sandwiches, and burritos served with plenty of Cheetos dust and nacho cheese. For big flavor and big fun, there’s maybe no better place to eat.

Fatima’s Grill in Downey.
Fatima’s Grill in Downey.
Farley Elliott/Eater LA

Porto's Bakery and Cafe

Porto’s Bakery pastry case.
Pastry case at Porto’s Bakery.
Porto’s Bakery

Popular Cuban bakery and cafe Porto’s has a busy location along Firestone serving the full complement of sandwiches, salads, pastries, and cakes for a rabid fanbase. The pre-ordering system in the covered parking lot works really well. —Matthew Kang

Porto’s Bakery pastry case.
Pastry case at Porto’s Bakery.
Porto’s Bakery

Gaucho Grill

Downey’s bustling Gaucho Grill is the stuff of Argentine dreams. The growing chain, which hopes to add a Pasadena location in the near future, focuses on large steaks and starters like empanadas, grilled cheeses, and plenty of seafood across a sprawling menu. —Farley Elliott

Dal Rae Restaurant

Dal Rae in Pico Rivera.
Dal Rae in Pico Rivera.
Yelp

Classic midcentury steakhouse Dal Rae endures in Pico Rivera serving a familiar set of throwback dishes like its famous pepper steak, crab cake, caesar salad, veal cutlet parmesan, and lobster thermidor. It’s the perfect place to ride up in a classic car with full dinner attire in the middle of the week. —Matthew Kang

Dal Rae in Pico Rivera.
Dal Rae in Pico Rivera.
Yelp

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