Essential T: Taco Culichi at Los Tomateros

Enjoy Sinaloan-style shrimp while you wait for your wax, wash, and shine

Many a successful taqueria, fonda, or stand has found success setting up next to a car wash, and sometimes the food purveyor, like Tijuana’s famed Tortas Wash Mobile, even outlives its patron car wash.

In the Mexican community, grabbing lunch while you wait for your auto detail is a fine way to kill a couple of hours, and such is the case at a revamped restaurant next to the creatively named Car Wash, located in the city of Bell’s Florence Plaza.

Los Tomateros (another Sinaloan restaurant in L.A. that derives its name from the baseball team in Culiacán, Sinaloa) just went through a change of owners in a way that happens often at Mexican restaurants. The new owners try to capitalize on the existing clientele by keeping the name and often the same staff.

This can go either way, and thankfully in this case, Los Tomateros has changed for the better with a mix of seafood, traditional dishes, and tacos from Sinaloa, one of Mexico’s top surf-and-turf states.

In addition to a delicious taco gobernador (with sauteed shrimp, vegetables, and shrimp) and smoked marlin, there’s a taco culichi. (People from Sinaloa are known as culichis.)  The most common shrimp  culichi you’ll encounter in L.A. is the green version, made from jalapeños, milk, and cream —  or sometimes Philadelphia cream cheese, if you want to go for the plebes, or commoner’s flavor. Los Tomateros does a red culichi taco made with sautéed shrimp in a creamy chipotle-in-adobo stew on melted cheese that overflows on the flat-top toasted tortilla. It’s just like a vampiro-style taco, a perfect diversion while waiting for your deluxe car wash and detail.

redarrow Los Tomateros, 4846 Florence Ave., Bell, (323) 560-0509