Among the Pobladores, or founding families of Los Angeles that arrived in 1781, four of the eleven families were from Sinaloa, comprising Black, Afro-Mexican, mestizo, and indigenous backgrounds. It’s not hyperbole to say Sinaloenses have a long history of immigration to LA, accelerated in the late 1970s for economic reasons, and escalating violence ushered in by Operation Condor, affecting farmers and people from small towns. Due to these and other historic connections, one out of every five Sinaloenses in the U.S. lives in the greater LA metropolitan area, especially Los Angeles, Inland Empire, and Orange County. Each generation leaves their culinary mark in LA’s cevicherías, cenadurías, fondas, and Sinaloan sushi restaurants. In LA, Mexican-American food trucks gain inspiration from Culiacán’s extravagant seafood towers, and while their ceviches come streaked in squirts of salsa negra, chamoy, and dusted with Tajín.
Mornings are for steamed beef head tacos, menudo blanco, chilaquiles, and machaca, or beef jerky prepared in a variety of ways. Mom and pop restaurants serve mouthwatering plates of well-seasoned northern guisos: chilorio (spicy shredded pork), barbacoa de res (stewed beef and potatoes), bistec ranchero, and cochinita pibil (Sinaloa-style) paired with runny, mind blowingly good frijoles puercos, or refried beans cooked with lard, melted cheese, and chorizo that cover half the plate. Specialists from Mazatlán are the carne asada stars in town, serving antojitos like asado, sopes, enchiladas del suelo, plus soups like caldo de cazuela, cocido, and frijol. But mariscos are the most notable culinary export from Sinaloa.
At food trucks and cevicherías, Angelenos snack on ceviche de sierra, a bony fish finely chopped and mixed with grated carrots, aguachiles, and callo de hacha given a acid bath in lime before scooping onto tostadas then served with simple condiments as they would be in Mazatlán and southern Sinaloa. From Culiacán, it’s the salty, spicy, and sour flavors of the chuchería (candy shop) thrown in, with tostadas overflowing with seafood drenched in condiments, impossibly constructed seafood towers, and sushi sinaloense. The colorful sushi rolls filled with meat, imitation crab, queso Philly, and Tampico paste which are then soaked in eel and hot sauce. Welcome to Culichitown USA, the center of Sinaloense life in the United States, where there’s a bottle of Salsa Sinaloa on every truck, and banda-fueled dancing, and eating mariscos at night. Here is Eater’s guide to culichi dining in LA.
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