33 Latino-Owned Businesses You Need to Know in Los Angeles
From specialty markets to bilingual bookstores, bakeries, taquerias, and more.
The Latino diaspora is vast. In our beautiful city, this complex mosaic of cultures, cuisines, and traditions is best seen through businesses owned by Latinos. The Latino experience is wide and varied, each with its own particular identity. Different parts of LA are made up of different enclaves, with restaurants, markets, and shops that cater to their specific populations. Like the numerous Central American restaurants in Koreatown and Pico-Union, or the bounty of Mexican restaurants and food vendors in East LA, or the various Peruvian, Brazilian, Cuban, and Puerto Rican businesses that are vital to LA’s diverse economy.
LA has nearly five million residents who identify as Latino, making up 48% of the city’s population. As Latino buying power grows, we see more and more businesses that reflect what LA actually looks like. It is important to note that Latino businesses usually cater to their communities first. Tienditas and shops are often an intermediary for Salvadorans, Guatemalans, Chicanos, Brazilians, and other Latino communities—a portal to their home and the world at large. They center their communities first because that’s where they find kinship and connection to their life and identity in Latin America.
These Latino-owned businesses act as beacons of resilience, proving the influence of their communities, while ensuring that future generations have access to the cultural capital they hold so dear. With many businesses still struggling to recover from loss of profit due to COVID, it’s even more important that we prioritize supporting these institutions, not just during Hispanic Heritage Month, but all year long.
While there are literally thousands of Latino-owned businesses in the Southern California region, this list serves as an attempt to showcase the multi-faceted curtain of LA through our favorite Latino-owned enterprises: food, drink, entertainment, clothing, and shopping. The story of Latinidad in LA is one of tenacity, community and vibrancy—traits that all of these businesses embody in one way or another.
Sara and Steven Valdez might be some of the kindest people in LA. Their family-owned market has become a beacon of hope and influential model for pop-ups. But the Valdezes also have an
acute eye for exceptionally curated items from some of LA’s best food vendors. Sure you can build-your-own four-pack of craft beer or grab a bottle of delightful natural wine, but you can also grab a box of frozen burritos by Burritos La Palma or a dozen Kernel of Truth tortillas. Sara’s Market is one of the leaders building a network of community. They have opened up their space to new voices in food and given them a platform to sell right in front of their storefront. Chances are you’ll find something new and exciting every time you visit.
Angry Egret Dinette
Born out of restlessness with the pandemic, Wes Avila opened Angry Egret Dinette, serving potent tortas and sandwiches. Just as with his previous venture, Guerrilla Tacos, Avila is constantly experimenting with new items, like a breakfast burrito that features lobster and soft scrambled eggs. They recently announced Taco Thursdays where Avila gets back to his taquero roots, serving up specials like tripas cooked confit in duck fat then seared on a plancha or mushrooms featuring a fierce almond salsa. This Chinatown restaurant is one of the most exciting places to grab a bite which you can enjoy in the open courtyard right outside.
Patty Rodriguez and Ariana Stein, founders of Lil’ Libros, had trouble finding bilingual books for their children to read. So they started their own company that focuses on Latino icons like Selena, Frida Kaklo, and Celia Cruz. Their books encourage Latino and BIPOC children to read and engage with stories that are both in Spanish and English. Exposing kids to the rich history behind cultural figures, folklore, and traditions. In July, this Huntington Park based company announced a crowdfunding campaign that raised over $3 million from the community—most of which were Latino and first-time investors. Not only is this a Latina-owned company, it’s now also community-owned!
During the pandemic, Milpa Grille became one of the few avenues where up-and-coming chefs and food concepts could pop up and sell. As part of their Milpa takeover, they allowed many new voices to take over the kitchen and do their thing. Folks like A’s BBQ, Evil Cooks, Hamburgers Nice, and Macheen. Since then, Macheen has become the resident pop-up Monday through Friday selling tasty creative tacos and breakfast burritos. Now the take-overs usually happen Sundays, but check their Instagram for exact dates. In addition to Macheen’s menu you can enjoy seasonal Mexican coffees from Cafe Cafe who handles the resident drink and coffee program.
Cafe Santo is part of Montebello’s Blvd Mrkt, an outdoor market that has several repurposed shipping containers similar to Steelcraft, but with a Latino focus. Cafe Santo has small bites like memelas, a fried corn disk with asiento (pork rind paste), black beans, quesillo, and a green or red salsa. The star of the show here is the Oaxacan mocha which features chocolate and coffee sourced from Oaxaca and other Latin American regions. While the espresso-based drinks are on par with any specialty coffee shop, Cafe Santos’ main specialty is Oaxacan-sourced cacao. You can get the aforementioned Oaxacan mocha but they also offer a drink that’s sans coffee made with chocolate and pecans. But if you want pure chocolate, the xoco-shot is two ounces of 100% pure cacao, allowing customers to taste the chocolate on its own.
Chef Omayra Dakis recently opened her first restaurant in Little Tokyo that serves Puerto Rican food. The Dakis family, originally from Miami, ran the popular Triple Threat Truck here in LA, also known for their Boricua cuisine. Now with Rumba Kitchen they continue their project of bringing those still hard to find flavors to LA. The restaurant features classics like mofongo, smashed plantains with mojo pork, and a fried fish sandwich with a citrus jicama slaw on pan sobao, and for dessert, flan made by her daughter and Masterchef Jr. alum Chef Maria. Or if you’re really hungry, order the Chiofrito, a whole-fried snapper served with tostones.
Chef Ronnie Muñoz started selling his chef-driven fried chicken tenders and sandwiches right out of his South LA home. Eventually he graduated to a food truck which he now parks around LA, announcing his locations via IG weekly. Their most popular items are the chicken sandwich and tenders, but the tenders are the best way to taste all the care and attention Munoz puts into his birds. Everything at Ronnie’s is fried in beef tallow, imparting a unique richness that’s unlike any other fried chicken. Keep a look out for special menu drops where Munoz creates his own version of fast food items like “bougie chicken mcnuggies,” or chicken mousseline with masa batter and barbecue sauce.
Equal parts lifestyle brand and Salvadoran restaurant, La Pupusa is one of the best places to get Salvi food and merch. They have an extensive menu of pupusas with traditional fillings like queso and chicharron or loroco. They also serve more inventive takes on pupusas like a breakfast verison with eggs or a La Mexican which is topped with protein, pico de gallo, crema, and cotija cheese. Or maybe you want a large format pupusa like La Mamasota, an 18-inch version that’s perfect for one VERY hungry person or a party. They also sell memorabilia to show your Salvi pride or if you want to let people know how much you like pupusas.
This streetwear brand has captured the eyes of young Latino crowds with their cheeky and nostalgic designs. Created by Joey Barba and Javier Bandera, the duo uses iconography pulled from their childhood. For one of their pop-up stores they used the logo of convenience store OXXO (think Mexican 7-Eleven) creating a small piece of Mexico here in LA. The line wrapped around the block as folks waited to buy tees and tote bags that featured familiar commercial Mexican logos like Bimbo and Jumex or an ad for Sabritas chips. One of their most popular shirts adorns the Bimbo bear with jewelry and money, paying homage to the early 2000s when popular cartoons were drawn as gangsters. Other merchandise makes witty political statements, like the t-shirt that features the mischievous Calvin urinating on ICE.
Wine Stop DTLA
Owned by Alvaro Cardenas, this humble wine shop started off in Downtown LA and recently opened a second location in Silver Lake, both of which sell some of the best and most affordable wines in the city. Some notable stand outs include Pronto, a rich lambrusco (his best seller) and Apiarum, a crispy but refreshing sauvignon. Most of the bottles here are under $20 and Cardenas, who worked for JK Imports for over 20 years, stocks a consistently stellar selection that makes it fun to experiment with new labels. Every wine at this shop is personally selected by Cardenas who goes to each vineyard, to ensure quality.
This Lynwood taqueria not only serves up excellent Mexican food, they have also been a community space for many years. Before the pandemic Balam opened their space up to local vendors and artists from Lynwood. Regulars order burritos filled with Korean asada, basmati rice, and black beans, or their Tropical T, a taco with a hibiscus-infused jicama slice, coconut shrimp, and mango pico de gallo. This taqueria is a good place to stop by for a quick bite or a michelada. On weekends they offer menudo and pozole verde. Make sure to check out the super slick merch curated and designed by the owner Rosendo “Chendo” Jacquez. Rosendo has a background in fashion and also founded the clothing brand Chelsea Drugstore.
Latinx With Plants
Andi Xoch, owner of Latinx With Plants, cherishes her childhood memories of walking through parks and admiring nature with her family. Latinx with Plants started as an Instagram account, inspired by Blacks With Plants, and now has two nurseries where folks from the community can adopt plants of their own. Though plants have become a millennial stereotype and a pandemic hobby, Latinx with Plants aligns itself with a long history within POC communities that involves connecting with plants.
In the early 90s, Melvyn Madrazo opened Los Pollos, a chicken rotisserie that combines Cuban and Mexican flavors. In 1999, Madrazo opened Tropicana with a bakery and a full service restaurant selling fantastic Cuban dishes. Expect Cuban favorites like excellent Cubano sandwiches, potato balls filled with ground beef or spinach and cheese, and tasty pastelitos. You can grab cakes and smaller pastries or a loaf of Cuban bread. While Porto’s has become an institution in Downey, Tropicana offers a similar product but with a shorter line and better Cubanos (absolutely zero shade to Porto’s).
Novacane Sports Bar & Grill
Angie Beline Martinez wanted to bring the Downtown bar vibe to Huntington Park. Named after a Frank Ocean song, Novacane is a popular bar for Southeast LA natives. They have a respectable list of cocktails like Thug Passion that employs hibiscus, lavender, and egg whites, or the Lovefool made with tequila, chile liqueur, lime, and mango puree. Their michelada never disappoints, arriving in a big ass glass with any cerveza you want, like say a Golden Road Mango Cart or something classic like a Pacifico. Novacane also has a full menu of burritos, tacos, and other snacks like hot cheetos with cheese. Come catch a vibe and get numb at this local bar—for the pain, for the pain.
Originally opened in 1963, this Boyle Heights burger stand was revamped by Armando de la Torre Jr. in 2018, with a promise that everything would be made fresh. This means that the burger patties are never frozen, the pastrami is made and sliced in-house, and the hashbrowns and onion rings are made fresh daily. Charbroiled burgers have a long history in LA and George’s is continuing that legacy. Don’t sleep on the breakfast or classic bean and cheese burritos, which are simple but consistently delicious.
Moo’s Craft Barbeque
Duo Michelle and Andrew Munoz started off cooking from home and opened their first brick-and-mortar in Lincoln Heights in 2020. The spot comes with a full tap room with a wide selection of frosty beers to accompany their exceptional BBQ—brisket, pork ribs, pulled pork, and homemade sausages that you can order by the pound. The sides include mac and cheese, creamy potato salad, and fantastic pickled peppers and onions. But if you’re rolling solo, the sandwiches with chopped brisket or pulled pork are a good option. Don’t forget about their key lime pie and tres leches bread pudding.
Started by Raul Ortega over 20 years ago, Mariscos Jalisco has become one of the stars in LA’s taco game. Starting with the original outpost in Boyle Heights, Mariscos Jaliscos has grown to four locations, including another truck in Downtown LA (near the Garment district), a truck in West LA, and a brick-and-mortar in Pomona. This mariscos chain is one of the best places in the city for a foolproof taco experience, and their tacos de camaron are practically a Los Angeles delicacy. Along with great tacos, they specialize in ceviches and spicy aguachiles, or try the Poseidon tostada that features a wide array of mariscos topped with fiery shrimp aguachile.
Teddy's Red Tacos
Teddy Vasquez started Teddy’s Red Tacos in 2017, before birria tacos exploded red all over LA. With a keen eye for marketing and manifesting, Vasquez’s crimson tacos have won over LA, with eight locations, from South Central to Venice, Downey, Inglewood, and the recently announced El Monte location. Teddy’s most popular dish is the deluxe plate that presents birria de res in many forms. Vasquez is one of the figures in the birria de res space that helped popularize this style of taco hailing from Tijuana. Teddy’s Red Tacos is so popular that they even have a Superbowl commercial, which is a feat of its own.
Gusto is a Long Beach bakery that makes some of the best pan dulce and bread in LA. With arguably the best conchas in the city and creative pastries like the Nixtamal Queen, a play on the kouign-amann that features corn masa, this bakery quickly became a star in the bread-baking world. They also have fantastic aguas frescas like jamaica that uses heirloom hibiscus, plus a cafe de olla cold brew. And they have no shortage of specials like their fantastic cheese and jalapeno bolios, which are dense and chewy with a hint of heat and feel like a distant sibling to garlic knots, or shortcakes with cream and seasonal fruits. This panaderia pays a lot of attention to nostalgic and cultural dishes like the concha but is also interested in etching out their own path.
Denise Maldonado has been working in coffee since she graduated high school. After immersing herself in specialty coffee and working at many coffee shops around LA, she always hoped to open a shop of her own. Fast forward to 2018 when she opened her first coffee shop Confidential Coffee in Long Beach. Aside from being one of the few Latinas in the space, she also offers a unique product inspired by her heritage, like a shaken frothy matcha horchata, and popular lattes made with cajeta, mazapan, or rompope. Maldonado tries to ensure that you can taste the coffee with each sip instead of being overpowered by sweetness. But if you’re looking for a more traditional coffee experience, their espresso pulls are fantastic and they have several pour over choices. Maldonado is a CSULB alum who majored in Chicano studies so she’s always looking for ways to create spaces for POC. Look out for community or art shows that are usually announced on their Instagram account.
El Cielito Cafe
Daniel Olivares, an Echo Park native, started to see coffee shops opening up in his neighborhood that used coffees from Latin America, but were rarely owned by or employed people from those regions. So he opened his own cafe in Huntington Park called El Cielito. When Olivares first opened the cafe he used importers but he decided to cut out the middleman and work directly with farmers. Currently he mostly works with Nicaraguan coffee farmers and Salvadoran farms. Not only does Olivares sources his coffees from Latin America he also roasts all his coffee at his mom’s house in Echo Park. El Cielito also offers unique, culture-inspired drinks, like churro or marzipan lattes. Equally important to note is that El Cieltito is a community space that invites local vendors to showcase their art and music.
There’s not many Latino folks in the tea space but Jesus Chaidez trained under tea master Roy Fong, when he worked at Imperial Tea Court in San Francisco. A private tasting is the best way to experience tea at La Teteria. You can message them on IG to set up an appointment. In the tasting, Chaidez will go over the history behind tea and will brew various teas which includes his own special blends. If you’re looking for something more casual, Chaidez also offers tea raspados with a strong emphasis on the tea. The genmaicha (Japanese brown rice and green) comes with sea moss balls and another employs rooibos and chamomile. All come with the option of adding lechera, a sweet condensed milk. The coffee program at La Teteria was started by Chuy Tovar of El Cafe but is now currently handled by Jhorken Tellez. You can also purchase clothing made by MYM Organics which uses some of the Chaidez’s teas to create natural dyes.
Patria was started by Geoffry and Deanna Martinez as a small coffee roaster from their Compton home. In 2018 they opened their first coffee shop near the Compton Courthouse, creating a community space that hires locals from the community, which naturally, means people of color. The Martinezes source their coffees directly from farms and all of their coffees are organic. At the shop you’ll see art from local artists which is part of Patria’s project to open the space to the community. They regularly give space to BIPOC youth to discuss culture and politics, and host film screenings about the Central American experience. Occasionally, Patria invites pop-ups to set up in front of their store so that customers can enjoy food with their Oat milk slushy and Mexican mochas.
Espacio 1839 is a resource center and community event space, as well as a shop that sells witty t-shirts and books. They also host various community radios and podcasts like Órale Boyle Heights hosted by Erick Huerta. Owned and operated by Nico and Myra Avina, they are committed to providing space and resources to the community. You can reach out to them via email or DM to find out more information about the radio space or upcoming events. In the past they’ve done workshops ranging from poetry, photography, and various other art forms. Often you’ll see them host creatives, authors, and artists for book signings and art shows. Visit them to get dope pins, t-shirts, sweaters, and books written by BIPOC.
Tortas Ahogadas El Rey
Tortas Ahogadas are a way of life for the Mota family who owns Tortas Ahogadas El Rey. This local chain has three locations, one at Plaza Mexico in Lynwood, one on Pacific in Huntington Park, and another in El Monte. This restaurant specializes in the seminal torta ahogada from Guadalajara made with birote salado (sourdough) with carnitas, frijoles, and two salsas, one made with tomatoes and spice and another with chile de arbol. What makes the tortas from El Rey stand out is the bread which they import directly from GDL, which is the most important component of the torta. El Rey is a place for folks from Guadalajara to find dishes from the city, like carne en su jugo, a thick soup made with carne asada, potatoes, and a tomatillo broth, or jericalla (flan).
With a name like Chicharroland, you can guess what they specialize in at this Mexican restaurant. The gorditas with chicharron are a favorite at this family-owned business, but you can also order carnitas and chicharron by the pound. Or a giant wet burrito, known as Rob’s burrito, covered in red or green sauce. Or fantastic breakfast options like huevos con chorizo, chilaquiles, and chorizo en salsa, cooked chorizo in an excellent tomatillo salsa. Stop by on the weekends for a bowl of their powerful pozole verde. If all else fails, get a plate of chicharron, dry or cooked in salsa, you really can’t go wrong.
If you’re looking for vintage records, Sanford Vintage has got you covered. Sure they have vinyls of classic albums by Pink Floyd, The Doors, and Led Zeppelin but you can also pick up albums by Ramon Ayala, Juan Gabriel, or even Chalino Sanchez. If you missed the Los Bukis concert (sucks to be you), maybe picking up a vinyl by the legendary band will ease the pain. They also sell mid-century furniture if you want to outfit your home like Don Draper (cigs and RDJ2 theme song not included).
Brewjeria is a tap room in Pico Rivera that opened late 2019. The folks at Brewjeria originally started as homebrewers before they graduated to a tap room. They make craft beer using Mexican flavors like “Tomo La Flor,” a pale ale brewed with hibiscus or the “Indigena,” a Belgian-style beer with piloncillo and cinnamon. Brewjeria has already been adopted by the community with many thirsty regulars looking for beer made by Latino folks for Latino folks.
La Garrafa MX
La Garrafa MX is a family-owned neveria (ice cream shop) owned by Alfornos Ruiz. They specialize in making nieves de garrafa which are ice creams with a fluffy texture that hail from Guadalajara, Jalisco. Ruiz wanted to bring the magic of nieves de garrafa to LA but with flavors that match LA’s demographics and diet. There’s two styles of nieves at La Garrafa, water-based and milk-based. The water-based options are usually more refreshing because of the fresh fruits and the milk-based flavors are creamy but still light. Some popular flavors include strawberry jamaica, lime, abuelita, taro, and even one made with almond milk for customers who can’t consume dairy.
Chef Tirsa Nevarez infuses her bubbly personality into the entire menu at Tirsa’s, her neighborhood Mexican restaurant on the outskirts of Chinatown. While you could certainly order a sope made with Hot Cheetos, don’t sleep on the wonderful breakfast offerings. The Noa Noa is a massive burrito that’s filled with soyrizo, potatoes, turkey bacon, and cheese. But the star of the show at Tirsa’s is the chipotle lime chicken, with flavorful chicken that’s cooked in a smoky, spicy, and acidic sauce, and can be ordered as a plate or burrito. On Fridays, it’s chile relleno madness, the only day to get a chile relleno burrito or plate. Wash it all down with aguas frescas that come in flavors like strawberry horchata and cucumber lime.
Poncho’s Tlayudas is one of the only places in LA to get artisan Tlayudas. Chef Poncho Martínez sources the tlayudas (large corn tortillas) directly from Oaxaca. Each tlayuda starts with a smear of lard, black beans, lettuce, and quesillo (Oaxacan cheese), with your choice of protein. Moronga (blood sausage) is their specialty, Martinez makes the sausages at home and the secret ingredient is mint. But if you’re really hungry you can order one with all three meats, chorizo, tasajo (beef jerky), and a charred moronga link. The recipe comes from his wife Odilia Romero’s side of the family, who also does amazing work with Indigioues communities through her organization Comunidades Indigenas en Liderazgo (CIELO).
Tamales Elena y Antojitos
Last year Southeast LA’s tamale game completely changed when Tamales Elena y Antojitos opened in Bell Gardens. Known for her powerful Afro-Mexicana cooking, chef Maria Elena Lorenzo used to sell her Guerrero regional style tamales in Watts. At Tamales Elena they offer both corn husk tamales and banana leaf ones with fillings like cheese and jalapeño, chicken in salsa verde, mushroom, pork, spinach and cheese. Or if you want something a little sweeter, they also have dessert tamales like pineapple and strawberry, perfect with a cafecito in the morning. The pozole here is also a draw here which comes in rojo, verde, y blanco, just like the Mexican flag. Make sure to get there early because they tend to close early and sell out certain tamales.
The Villegas family come from Puebla, Mexico and they provide the Poblanos in East LA with a piece of home. This lonchera is known for their tacos arabes which are on a pan arabe (thick flour tortilla) with marinated pork and a smoky and spicy chipotle sauce. But you can order them “especiales” which includes shredded quesillo and slices of avocado. The origin of the especiales is not from Puebla but a Villegas original recipe. An homage to when the matriarch, Merced, used to go door to door selling quesillo. Make sure to try the large and filling cemitas with strands of quesillo and cecina jutting out of the bread.