Essential T: Rabbit, Quail, and Chicken Necks at Mama Gallina

L.A.’s largest Mexican-style rotisserie goes well beyond roast chicken

There is much to explore around the Alameda Swap Meet and the adjacent El Faro Plaza in Vernon with their regional Mexican food courts, stands, food trucks, and the street vendors that surround the vast flea markets. You can find seafood, antojitos, tacos de canasta, churros, tortas, junk food, corn on the cob, regional cuisine, and now a rotisserie-chicken stall that serves chicken necks, rabbit, and quail in addition to whole chickens. We have a few great Mexican-style rosticerias in Los Angeles but, until now, none that have offered anything beyond whole birds. Chicken necks (pescuezos) are fairly standard in rotisseries in Mexico, so it makes sense to find them at the Alameda Swap Meet, which is, more or less, Mexico.

Mama Gallina, or Mother Hen, is the latest addition to the Alameda Swap Meet that celebrates the flavors of Mexico to keep up with the big appetite of shoppers and visitors, many who come out with their families just to hear the live music offered at this congested complex. Mama Gallina serves their birds–original or in a spicy rub–with rice, beans, salsa, and tortillas for making your own tacos, as well as in other popular dishes—chicken bowls, tortas, family packs, and salads.

Whole chickens, rabbits, chicken necks, and quail on the rotisserie at Mama Gallina
Whole chickens, rabbits, chicken necks, and quail on the rotisserie at Mama Gallina

Photograph by Bill Esparza

An order of chicken necks will make you put in an effort in order to carefully chew around the tiny vertebrae, but the reward is highly concentrated flavors of dark, moist chicken. There are plenty of quails and rabbits on Mama Gallina’s several large rotisseries, which add their lean flavor profiles to the house original and spicy marinades.

You can get your roast meats to go, but after finding a place to park, and navigating through the jam-packed shopping center, better to take a load off and enjoy your $6 plate of spicy chicken necks to the sounds of cumbia and merengue at one of L.A.’s unique Latino institutions.

redarrow Mama Gallina, located inside the Alameda Swap Meet, 4501 S. Alameda St., Vernon