Essential T: Lobster Nachos at El Coraloense

Because the only thing better than nachos is lobster nachos

The very best Mexican foods start with the letter T—tacos, tortas, tlayudas. Here we showcase the tastiest “T” bites from the streets of L.A. 


Nachos originated in Piedras Negras, Coahuila (Northern Mexico), but they have their roots in totopos, the pre-Hispanic dipping chips from the isthmus of Tehuantepec in Oaxaca, and that’s good enough for Essential T.

The addictive combination of chips and melted cheese can be found on nearly every appetizer menu on the planet. But in L.A. that’s just the beginning. Angelenos can stuff themselves with all manner of loaded nachos, from vegetarian versions to protein-packed piles of animal parts. Then there’s the lobster-covered, cheese-smothered chip fest at El Coraloense.

When Leo and Maria Curie opened El Coralense, they were preparing classic seafood dishes from the Pacific states of Sinaloa and Nayarit: ceviches, cocktails, and pescado zarandeado, a whole butterflied fish. Leo and Maria’s children, Natalie and Leo Jr., studied at the Cordon Bleu in Pasadena, and used their culinary degrees to add their own style to family recipes.

Forget about the lobster nachos available at Disneyland’s California Adventure. That’s a kiddie ride. The glorious mess at El Coralense is covered in a thick, runny coating of melted white cheese with tomatoes and black olives, all topped with stewed lobster. Think that’s ambitious? Check out the rest of the menu at this family-owned gem, where two generations of Mexican cooks, chefs, and restaurateurs that still cook together.

El Coraloense, 6600 Florence Ave., Bell Gardens, 562-776-8800