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Cheap Fast Eats #8: Inglewood
Many who visit Inglewood might only get a snapshot of the city. Maybe they caught a show at the Kia Forum (formally the Great Western) such as Prince’s legendary 30-day residence there in 2011 or took in a Rams game at nearby SoFi Stadium. But what if between spectator events and the occasional stop at Randy’s Donuts, you had no other exposure to the Wood?
That’d be a shame because the city has an enviable cultural legacy that spans the Showtime Lakers-era decades ago to its present-day status as a hub for young creatives as captured on the HBO series Insecure (The Dunes apartment, never forget):
This rich and plentiful history in a city where Black and Latino residents combined make up nearly 90% of the population is actualized in a food scene with different culinary flourishes.
This is Cheap Fast Eats Inglewood.
Wings 2 Go
We can’t take full credit for this find. That honor goes to former contributor Cesar Hernandez, who’s currently working as the assistant restaurant critic for the San Francisco Chronicle. While we miss Cesar's contributions, we thought what better way to honor him than to do a callback on one of our favorite picks of his.
What is it about the concept of a wing shop in L.A. that keeps it from carrying the same culinary importance as it does in other cities like Atlanta?
Wings 2 Go is a small but mighty wing shop that sits in a tiny strip mall along Crenshaw Boulevard, attracting wings fanatics from far and wide looking to get a fiery bite. The menu at Wings isn’t huge by most standards but it still manages to pack a punch when it comes to offering a variety of tastes and flavors. Opt for the six-piece ATL Special (hot with lemon pepper seasoning). We’ve developed a taste for lemon pepper-style wings since we heard about them from Donald Glover’s television series Atlanta. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, Google it.
Upon the first transformative bite of a wing, suddenly you’re Jordan after clinching his first NBA finals win in 1991, celebrating in ecstasy. The sticky, crunch-fried wing is drenched in the perfect amount of sauce and then sprinkled with galactic bits of salty-citrusy lemon pepper seasoning that will leave your lips tingling. If you’re looking to broaden your flavor horizons, there’s also a jerk BBQ, aji verde, and Cajun rub as sauce selections.
Whichever fiery selections you choose, wash it down with lemonade or sweet tea, or go for a hole-in-one with an Arnold Palmer to quench your thirst, as you’ll no doubt need it.
10925 Crenshaw Blvd. #101, Inglewood, CA 90303Open Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.- 7:30 p.m, Saturday, 11 a.m.- 7 p.m.
Country Style Jamaican Restaurant
Our love for Jamaican-style take-out restaurants is well documented, so it’s not surprising we have had a well-established place in our heart for a while now for the casual walk-up counter-establishment.
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The welcoming and joyous atmosphere is infectious as you enter the walk-up counter inside. The walls are painted the same dark green of the Jamaican flag. Images of Black luminaries are featured next to maxims extolling a virtue-filled life.
To get the most meal for your buck, we recommend going with any one of the mini plate options. Our personal favorite is the curried goat. Stewed bone-in pieces of goat have been cooked in a dark yellow curry full of aromatic spices. The chunks of meat are spicy, juicy and fatty and fall off the bone onto a bed of rice and beans that’s also saturated in the curry flavoring.
630 N. La Brea Ave., Suite 111, Inglewood, CA 90302Open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday-Sunday 10:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m. (Closed Wednesdays)
Carnitas El Artista
While it might be easy to pledge one’s allegiance to the culinary wonder that is carnitas, how often do you take it upon yourself to dive deep into the different parts of the pig? Each contains its own unique textures that manage to delight with every helping.
Carnitas El Artista is where such dreams can come true as a result of the hard work of owner Gustavo Chavez and his family. The name El Artista came from Chavez’s grandfather who used to take the bus from Wilmington to visit the restaurant. The elder Chavez would be surprised when everyone around town knew his grandson and would joke that the younger Chavez was "El Artista” — or movie star.
Chavez and his family originate from Michoacán, the Mexican state known as the birthplace of carnitas, which are traditionally cooked in large copper pots called cazos.
Carnitas El Artista sells their offerings by the pound with the choice of different parts that include carnitas (pork shoulder), costillas (ribs), lengua (tongue), buche (stomach), cueritos (skin) or a mix of everything.
Chavez and his wife started their business in 2015 selling by the pound out of their backyard in nearby Hawthorne before moving into street vending and finally opening their restaurant in 2019.
While carnitas by the pound is a very good deal at $15 to $16, if you are looking to feed an army of family members on a Sunday afternoon, it might be a lot for a casual stop.
Tacos de carnitas are the best option in that case. Opt for the mix containing all the different parts of the pork. That manages to pack all the flavor and texture of each aspect of the protein, providing for an extremely nuanced bite containing equal amounts of the sticky, fatty and chewy all combined. Serve the meat on a fresh tortilla with crisp-tasting salsa topped with thin shards of red onion for the proper amount of acidity that cuts the richness of the pork. It’s a showtime taco for the masses if there ever was one.
510 N. La Brea Ave., Inglewood, CA 90301Open Monday 8 a.m.- 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 9 a.m.- 7 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 8 a.m.-4 p.m, (Closed Wednesdays)
If you’ve spent any time in Inglewood, there’s a good chance you’ve seen the Woody’s Bar-B-Que location on Market Street. It's not uncommon for lines to wrap around the small business, spilling out into the moderately sized parking lot.
It’s never not a joyous occasion at Woody’s as you wait in line to place your order at the walk-up window where speakers overhead play booming deep cuts from 80’s and 90’s R&B or Madlib’s Shades of Blue, helping set the mood.
Our favorite aspect of Woody’s is their lunch special menu which feels like you are going back in time to when the restaurant opened in 1975. Items such as Inflation Fighter (Pork Rib Tips & 1/2 Chicken Link), Business Man’s Lunch (2 Ribs & 1/2 Chicken Link), and Lady’s Lunch (Chopped Beef & 1 Chicken Link) are a few of the standouts on the menu. All cost $8.95 (tax and tip excluded). With each dish, diners have their choice of signature sauce (mild, hot, or mixed) that resembles a BBQ sauce but somehow manages to feel more special because it’s homemade.
All plates come in a brown paper bag, giving the vibe of the school lunch that your mom used to pack. Along with the small entree, you’ll be served two slices of white bread packaged neatly in a small plastic bag and a small container of a side of your choice. Have your pick of potato salad, mac and cheese, macaroni salad, baked beans or cole slaw.
475 S. Market St,, Inglewood, CA 90301Open daily, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
If you ask anyone who grew up in a Latino household or in anyplace where tortillas are readily available, the quesadilla holds a special place in their hearts. An easy after-school snack or — maybe with the addition of meat and/or avocado — a filling lunch. Either properly crisped over a hot comal from the stove or microwaved for a short period of time, you can’t get a more homey feel than melted cheese between a flour tortilla.
An aside: what if the quesadillas from your youth were, in fact, a gateway into a large quesadilla universe that’s actually larger than what you might have originally considered? El Capitalino achieves just that. Owner Ivan Gomez, who also owns Birreira Gomez (a fleet of trucks specializing in birria de res, found throughout South Bay and the Westside), was inspired by how he saw quesadillas prepared during a trip to Mexico City and also by his mother and grandmother who grew up making the meal.
Each of the thick corn tortillas is made by hand, usually by Ivan’s mom, Norma Ramirez. She takes the raw masa and forms it into a flat disk, then stuffs it with cheese. The tortilla is then folded and fried in oil.
After it’s done cooking, the quesadilla is removed, pulled apart and packed with a filling of your choice, which could be chicken tinga, hongos (mushrooms), rajas con queso (roasted roasted poblano peppers with cheese), carne asada or chicharron prensado. Then it’s fried with salsa made from Guajillo chili and stuffed with lettuce and cream. No matter what the filling is, you'll get a unique griddled cheesiness accented by expertly-flavored fillings that make for one of the best-tasting quesadillas that we’ve ever experienced.
10624 Hawthorne Blvd., Lennox, CA 90304Open Thursday-Sunday, 3 p.m.-9 p.m.
Do you have a question about food in LA — or something you want to tell us about?
Gab Chabrán reports and edits stories about food and its place in LA's diverse cultures and communities. Curious about a specific regional cuisine or have a recommendation for a hole-in-the-wall you love? Are you looking for the best place to take your kid for lunch? We’d love to hear from you. Drop us a line.