Photography by Bill Esparza
As we approach Independence Day—one of the biggest outdoor grilling holidays in this country—we're firing up the mesquite to tempt your tummies with the flavors of the Latin American grill.
From Mexico to Central America to South America, L.A. offers the traditional parrillas, or grills from the beaches of Nayarit to the land where gauchos, or cowboys roam across the borders shared by Brazil and Argentina. Here are five places to surf and turf the Latin Americas right here in the City of Angels.
Argentina: Carlito’s Gardel
The parrillada for two at this destination for deep-purpled malbecs and fine Argentine steaks in the center of the hip Melrose fashion scene is still kgrilling it. Prepare yourself for top quality morcilla (blood sausage), skirt steak, short ribs, chorizo, and sweet breads that arrive on a sizzling brazier. Watch it all glisten under brushes of house-made, habit-forming chimichurri sauce. Carlitos Gardel, 7963 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, (323) 655-0891
The best Nayarit-style seafood restaurant in town is also the undisputed champion of Mexican beach cuisine and pescado zarandeado, or whole snook fish. Fresh snook is shipped in from Mexico, butterflied, marinated, and grilled so that every shred of the tasty fish is tender. Coniseafood, 3544 W. Imperial Hwy, Inglewood, (310) 672-2339
El Salvador: Don Lencho’s
This South Los Angeles restaurant remains the only game in town for Salvadoran style whole fish barbecue thanks to their mojarra asada. Take in the ambience of this locals only shack while you sink your teeth into blackened fish with chirmol (salsa), and beans on thick Salvadoran tortillas pressed to order. Don Lencho’s, 6119 S. Normandie Ave, South Los Angeles, (323) 751-7533
Brazil: Fogo de Chão
Besides a few exotic offerings (like chicken hearts) missing from the Beverly Hills branch of this Brazilian churrascaria, or AYCE steakhouse, FdC is identical to the its locations in Brazil, but serves USDA prime cuts. Head to the salad bar and pile on the greens and dressings, then turn your coaster to green and the gauchos will dash to your tableside to carve juicy steaks, sausages, and other proteins ‘til you say stop. Fogo de Chão, 133 N. La Cienega Bl., Beverly Hills, (310) 289-7755
Chef Ricardo Zárate has set up an innovative robata grill at all three of his restaurants for cooking Peruvian anticuchos, or skewers, which are a staple of Peru’s street food fare. At his newest location in Marina Del Rey, there’s a whole menu section for skewers. Feast on paiche (Amazonian fish), stuffed squid, and quail, all bursting with the exciting flavors of Peru. Paiche, 13488 Maxella Ave, Marina Del Rey, (310) 893-6100