Community Restaurants in South L.A.

Restaurants in South L.A. don't get a lot of media attention, but there are some excellent options, and they tend to embody the American dream, to boot. Here are some of our favorites -- tell us yours!

Dulan's: This restaurant has deep roots in Inglewood, and they aim to be an active member of the community, regularly catering charity events for schools and hospitals. It's also home to one of the purest expressions of soul food in L.A., famous especially for their smothered baked chicken, yams, peach cobbler, and lemon cake.

Orleans & York: The name refers to the cities of New Orleans and New York. Po' boys dominate the menu and the accolades, so the New York portion gets a little lost. No matter. This restaurant is expanding at a rapid clip, building three new locations this year alone. Go try their Creole specialties before they franchise ...

Watts Coffee House: This has been a community gathering spot, off and on, since the 1960s. When it was founded in late 1965 it was called Watts Happening, and though the current owner has dropped the hep name, it once again serves soul food while operating as a hangout for locals and a kind of museum of African-America history; there's also a community theatre attached to it.

Hawkins House of Burgers: Cynthia Hawkins' father came to L.A. in 1939, during the Second Great Migration. He opened the restaurant, though it was just a stand initially. It survived fires during both the Watts Rebellion and the '92 Uprising, staying open for business during both events. It may be the only non-chain restaurant in Watts today.

Bludso's: Angelenos often say "there's no good barbeque in L.A. ... well, except for Bludso's." The owner grew up in Compton but earned his bone fides during summers working at his grandmother's restaurant in Texas; the California-Texas combo keeps people coming from all corners of the county for the brisket. It's take-out only, or more accurately, eat-in-your-car only.

Robert Earl's: Texas-style barbeque with a side of all-American success story. Earl kept his day job for over twenty years while hosting cookouts on the weekends. He finally felt his product was good enough to take to farmers' markets. One year later, he opened a brick and mortar. Some people say it's even better than Bludso's.

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