27 Latino-Owned Businesses You Need to Know in Los Angeles
Los Angeles is home to a broad, diverse, and provincially deep community of people identifying as Latino, Afromexicano, Afrolatino, indigenous, Kriol, Latinx, Garinagu, and many more from Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean and South America. It also counts a huge group of local Chicanos, and Central-Americans born and raised in the countless cultural enclaves like Boyle Heights, Westlake, and South Central. LA is the second largest Mexican, Guatemalan, Salvadoran, Oaxacan, and Belizean city on the planet and the collective Latino and Latinx population are the majority in the City of Angels. That being said, it’s hard to find a neighborhood in LA or the greater metropolitan area that’s not Latino, including right here in Hollywood, where I get coffee at La Monarca Bakery, or groceries at Catalina’s, a South American supermarket that caters to all Latinos. My convenience stores are Oaxacan, and I buy seasonal foods like flor de izote from Guatemalan street vendors, and avocados that are always ripe. This is Los Angeles, here Latinos and Latinx eat, shop, and produce immigrant and second generation entrepreneurs.
Online you’ll find LA woman-owned street fashion and accessories worn by locals at Bella Doña, Raggedy Tiff, Hia de tu Madre, Mexico en la Piel, and Selva Negra, reflecting Mexican-American and Latinx couture. There’s also fashion pop-ups, often featuring several vendors selling clothing and jewelry from young creatives like Querida Los Angeles, Once Upon a Charm, and Viva La Bonita, where women can honor themselves, and receive positive messages from the streets of LA on tote bags such as “dream big mija”, and to remember you’re “allergic to pendejadas.” Treat yourself to high-quality personal care products at Rizo’s Curls, Loquita Bath and Body for hibiscus flower face masks, get it all at Shop Latinx, a marketplace for Latinx producers, and tune in to Dulce Ruiz’s webpage with links to her YouTube channel for Latina fashion and lifestyle tips.
For children’s books, check out Lil’ Libros: founders Patty Rodriguez and Ariana Stein had more doors slammed in their faces that there are taco trucks in LA, but instead of giving up, they published Lil’ Libros on their own. The founders were told that Latino children don’t read books, before they self published, and now their children’s books featuring Latino icons Celia Cruz, Frida Kahlo, and Selena are distributed nationwide.
If you’re curious about what millennial LA Latinos, Chicanos and Latinx are up to, read LA Taco for the latest news coming out of Boyle Heights, East LA, Huntington Park, and Whittier written by members of the community, then binge watch “Gentefied,” on Netflix by co-creator Linda Yvette Chavez, about gentefication and gentrification in Boyle Heights, and “East Los High” on Hulu.
And when it comes to food, there’s no better place in the USA to experience regional Mexican, Central-American, and Oaxacan cuisine in homes, on the streets and in restaurants. Todo Verde has cookbooks, online classes and catering, leading the vegan-Mexican food movement here in LA, and pick-up a copy of LA Mexicano, the only book dedicated to Mexican cuisine in Los Angeles.
And while there are thousands of Latino-owned businesses to support in the City of Angels, we recommend that you eat, dress, play, shop, and live the ultimate Latino and Latinx experience at these 27 favorite spots that help make up the way of life in our brown communities.
Bill Esparza is a James Beard Award-winning writer, and author of LA Mexicano.
Eastside Luv Wine Bar y QueSo
Boasting the first pocho (Mexican-American) bar of its kind, Guillermo Rangel Uribe was an early gentefier in Boyle Heights, with his lowrider-themed bar, chainlink steering wheel chandeliers, and corduroy-lined booths inspired by cholo slippers. Drink like Chicanos sipping local craft beers, caguamas (40-ounce Mexican beers), and a variety of micheladas prepared with craft beers, like their Mangolada, made with Golden Road Mango Cart, inspired by Mexican fruit carts.
Check out the menu.
In the city of Bell, was born one of our most beloved institutions, where chefs Jaime Martín del Campo and Ramiro Arvizu, have led the charge in bringing traditional Mexican cuisine to Mexican-Americans unaccustomed to the regional cooking of Mexico. Their enchiladas tres moles, a trio of mole poblano, pipián verde, and pipián rojo is as refined as is prepared in Mexico City’s haute cuisine restaurants, and they’re masters of chiles rellenos, cooking the famed chiles en nogada, a stuffed chile with a white walnut sauce, year around.
Make a reservation/order takeout: Call 323-773-1898, or via DoorDash
Owner Daisy Iniguez brews some of the best coffee in town made from the finest coffee beans in Mexico and Latin America, at a reasonable price. Her coffee menu lists the classics: expresso, drip, cold brews, and lattes. Capuyo also offers aguas frescas and prepared foods from nearby Homeboy Bakery and Homegirl Cafe in a relaxed space and the goal of empowering women entrepreneurs.
Order takeout: Call 323-685-2457 or via Seamless
Rocio's Mexican Kitchen
It stands to reason that in Oaxacalifornia (name Oaxacans call CA--LA is 2nd largest Oaxacan city in the world) we’d have a professionally trained Oaxacan chef and restaurant consultant, who has been responsible for many of the Mexican fine dining restaurants that emerged in the early aughts. Chef Rocio Camacho finally opened her own Mexican restaurant, on her own, serving moles, traditional Mexican dishes like chiles rellenos, and guisados like chilate (chicken soup) from her hometown of Huajuapan de León in the Mixteca region of Oaxaca.
Order takeout: Call 562-659-7800 or via Postmates
El Amateco Seafood and Steaks
Salvadoran chef Wilbert Martínez immigrated to the US dreaming of opening his own restaurant, a Latin-American surf and turf restaurant featuring fine cuts of steak: tomahawk, Argentine cuts, NY steak, and lobsters. His menu has ceviches, traditional seafood stews found in Mexico and El Salvador, and his tribute to his home country: a pizza topped with loroco flowers, one of the defining ingredients in Salvadoran cuisine.
Order takeout: Call 818-582-5981 or via Doordash
Chicano cuisine is another style of cooking you’ll find in San Diego’s Barrio Logan, Arizona, and Los Angeles, where Chicana chef Tira Nevarez riffs on the trendy flavors of Mexican street food, tienditas, and Mexican-American home cooking. Her menu includes hard shell tacos made with chipotle aioli, esquites (street corn) covered in crushed Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, and a wet chile relleno burrito that’s an oldies slow jam to East LA.
Order takeout: Call 213-474-3536 or via Doordash
Baker Karina Jimenez offers the flavors of Mexican panaderías, cantinas, and street on her cupcake toppings of conchita, margarita, and tamal con mole, respectively, with other flavors inspired by aguas frescas culture. Jimenez’s Pico Rivera shop also makes Mexican-American style churros, ice cream, and other desserts like ice cream sandwiches made with conchas, or Mexican sweet bread.
Order takeout: Call 562-641-9902
Dedicated to the mesoamerican milpa, an ancestral farming technique of growing corn, beans, and squash together for greater productivity, known as “the three sisters,” owner Deysi Serrano has created a menu based on the pre-Hispanic staple: corn. With tacos, enchiladas, and both versions of Mexican street corn, elotes (corn on the cob), and esquites (corn in a cup), Serrano is making a strong statement about Mexican traditions, and about the healthier lifestyle of pre-conquest Mexico with her milpa bowl, made with beans, corn, and squash.
Order takeout: Call 323-269-2995 or via DoorDash
Formerly located on Virgil across the street from Sqirl, traditional Guatemalan cook Amalia Zuleta’s warm and tasty restaurant was a victim of the gentrification brought by restaurants like Sqirl, but they soon reopened in Koreatown. Amalia’s prepares gourmet Guatemalan tamales, antojitos (cravings), breakfasts of grilled meats, beans, fried plantains, and cream, and rich Guatemalan stews like revolcado, a mixture of pork offal in a mild sauce.
Order takeout: Call 323-644-1515 or via Seamless
Buena Vista Cigar Club
The “Cigar King” of Beverly Hills, Rigo Hernandez, provides an old school experience of fine cigars, select Scotches, rums, and ports, and your bartender as host, perfect for a business meeting, date, or an end to an evening with friends. Hernandez, a Cuban immigrant, is one of LA’s only Latino owners of a cigar lounge, and maybe the last place in town where you’ll receive this level of service.
Inquire about a table: Call 310-273-8100
Oaxacalifornia is one of the vibrant cultures found in LA, featuring the cuisine of Oaxaca’s Valles Centrales cooked by indigenous immigrants who’ve found a place for themselves in California, especially in Los Angeles. Zapoteco chef Poncho Martínez is our local tlayuda artisan, preparing tlayudas (large corn tortillas) filled with lard, black bean puree, veggies, and quesillo (Oaxacan cheese), and moronga (blood sausage), a fine piece of charcuterie from the Sierra Norte, with the recipe coming from his wife’s side of the family.
Order ahead: Check out the online shop
Tamales Elena y Antojitos
LA’s first Afro-Mexican restaurant under the leadership and traditional recipes of chef Maria Elena Lorenzo, from Guerrero’s La Costa Chica, just opened their first brick and mortar, after decades selling as a street vendor. Expect delicious banana leaf tamales, unique provincial stews of beef tongue with plantains, and beef jerky and eggs in salsa, known as aporreadillo, but the pozole is the main attraction. Lorenzo’s green, white and red pozoles are as good as you’ll find in Mexico, and there’s even a vegan elopozole (sweet corn pozole).
Order delivery: Via Postmates
One of the best pupusa vendors in town is a bicho (young person in Salvadoran slang) chef and entrepreneur named Wendy Centeno, who owns several trucks, and moves from locations to events all over Los Angeles, making handmade pupusas. In between long drives, and long preps, Centeno can be seen on social media promoting her traditional Salvadoran dishes as well as popular tacos, sliders, and ceviche, making this truck a hot spot wherever it goes.
Follow them on Instagram: For updates and locations.
Triple Threat Truck
Los Angeles has a small Caribbean Latino and Latinx presence compared to Miami or NYC, but chef Omayra Dakis more than makes up for it at our only Puerto Rican food truck named after PR’s famed tripleta sandwich. Dakis makes her own pan sobao for her triple meat sandwich, as well as the best mofongo in town; a burger made with tostones; and the mofongleta: a mashup up of a tripleta with a mofongo wrap.
Order ahead: Via Square
The Villegas family is dedicated to the cuisine of their home state of Puebla, Mexico, known for its moles, the seasonal chiles en nogada, cemitas poblanas, and tacos árabes. Their pork is roasted on a spit, then carved onto a special flour tortilla, called pan árabe, and finished with a chipotle salsa. Merced Villegas only prepares her tacos the traditional way, and they go out of their way to make things correctly, even importing their own ingredients from Puebla.
Follow them: Via Instagram
Saraba Garifuna Cuisine
Though not Latino, or Latinx, the Garinagu come from various Garifuna groups in Central America, and especially Belize, where LA’s only Garifuna cuisine specialist, Winston Miranda comes from. Miranda cooks ancestral dishes on his roving truck from scratch like hudut, a large ball of mashed green plantains served with fish soup, a gravy-like fish and tubers stew called tapou, and Belizean panades (tuna in tortillas with cumin), garnaches (fried bean tostadas), and salbutes (puffed corn tortilla with shredded chicken), all seasoned with lots of fiery Marie Sharp’s habanero hot sauce.
Follow on social media: Via Instagram
The story of this neighborhood sundries market is typical in Latino LA, where owners Sara and Steven Valdez took over a family market, and connected the business with the changing needs of the community. You’ll find toothpaste, snacks, plus a wide selection of craft beers, and the Valdez’s market now gives a voice to up-and-coming taqueros hosting weekly popups, in response to the requests of locals wanting chef-driven tacos to pair with their craft beer.
Call ahead: 323-268-6809
When Angelenos want an affordable professional haircut, they go see Hector, who maintains a high rating on Yelp at his small old-fashioned men’s barber shop. Located near the USC campus, he attracts lots of Trojans in addition to the Latino clientele.
Book it: Call 213-274-2748
For high fashion, co-founder Karla Gallardo’s Pacific Palisades store sells fine bags, totes, pouches, and clothing for women using sustainable products, and encourages buyers to donate their used items to prolong their life. Along with co-founder Shilpa Shah, the pair of designers seek to create timeless products that buyers will use for a long time, with the motto that: “fewer is better.”
Shop online: Via website
Born a tejana, who was raised in Mexico, Gladys Tamez learned to love the magnificent hats worn by northern Mexicans before studying art in Monterrey, then designing in Florence. At her Arts District store, her fine hats are luxury heritage designs for men and women in a variety of classic hat styles.
Shop online: Via website
Whittier Brewing Company
This latest venue from chef Ricardo Diaz has a brewery and a food hall with various Mexican-American concepts from one of the founders of modern mexican American cuisine, known as Alta California. The food hall inside Whittier’s Poet Gardens is more than just a place to eat and drink, but a gathering space in one of LA’s most established Mexican-American cities.
For more info: Call 562-325-5636
The Frida Cinema
This non-profit movie house is dedicated to showcasing classic, and cult movies and the memory of Frida Kahlo’s struggle for her art, political views, and health in post-revolutionary Mexico. Movie buffs can catch the Star Wars saga, watch classics like “The Sandlot,” and the ultimate sci-fi horror film, “Re-Animator” viewed on various film formats for the best cinematic experience. While the theater is currently closed due to COVID-19, check out their drive-in experiences around LA by following them on social media.
El Floridita Cuban Restaurant
It seems like the dance floor never empties at one of LA’s longest running Latino clubs, named after Havana’s famous bar frequented by Ernest Hemingway. The mojitos and daiquiris are good, as are the Cuban-American appetizers and mains, but the best salsa bands in town have been performing here for decades. The party doesn’t stop on the weekends, as Salsa Monday’s have been helping Angelenos start their weeks off with style since 1987.
Elizabeth Santos’s boot camp gym in Downey delivers a blend of training exercises that combine cardio, agility, functional, plyometric, and strength training using your body weight, resistance bands, and medicine balls. Santos offers a boot camp that’s open to all fitness levels, and strives to build community through her gym’s workouts.
Check out their outdoor classes on social media.
Ramirez Beverage Center
Latino and Latinx barrios continue to be underserved by the craft beer industry, ignoring their growing customer base of Latinos, but Boyle Heights’s Ramirez Liquors slowly began adding craft beers as customers complained about also having to drink the same beers. Now, the Ramirez Beverage Center has a huge showroom supplying craft beer, tequila, mezcal, and other fine spirits to a mostly brown customer base.
Check out their selection: Via website
El Camaguey Meat Market
For Brazilians, Central-Americans, Mexicans, and other South-Americans, this small market is the best place to go when trying to cook a recipe from your home country. You can get Brazilian steak cuts, picanha, chorizos from across Latin America, regional produce, frozen cashew fruit, adobos for Puerto Rican recipes, and beans for practically every country in Latin America. There’s also a nice Brazilian take-out called Cantinho Brasileiro, and you can grab a 6-pack of Guaraná on your way out to go with your feijoada.
Call ahead: 310-839-4037