Some Angelenos don't venture east of La Brea. Similarly, many rarely make it south of the 10 Freeway. Those who head south of Rodeo Road on Crenshaw Boulevard are rewarded with smoky barbeque joints serving large helpings of greens and corn bread; island cuisine from Jamaica, Belize and other parts of the Caribbean; and live blues and jazz at clubs in the heart of L.A.'s African American arts community.
Most of us already know about the delicious barbecue we can pick up from the window at Phillips Bar-B-Que and the upscale wood-fired pizza and modern American menu from Post and Beam. While we all eagerly await the opening of new restaurants by Jaime Martin del Campo and Ramiro Arvizu (La Casita Mexicana) in the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, there are plenty of other great places to eat in the area. Here are five.
A small slice of Jamaican hospitality can be found right in the heart of Leimert Park. Although you order at the counter, the food is brought to you at the table, with a place mat and silverware. You can't go wrong with the jerk chicken, braised oxtail or the goat curry. Plates are served with rice and beans, steamed cabbage, plantains and the just-fried festival bread. 4305 Degnan Blvd. No. 100, Los Angeles, (323) 295-7275, ackeebamboojacuisine.com.
Orleans and York Deli
As the name would suggest, this casual deli is the perfect marriage of New Orleans and New York. Although the po' boys aren't served on the more accurate fluffy French bread, their crusty baguettes are fine substitutes, especially since they're baked daily in-house. The muffuletta is also house-made. If you're lucky, there may be a fresh pot of seafood chowder, which isn't on their menu. Bring a friend to share the Gumbo Mumbo or any of their generously sized sandwiches, served with a side of chile oil, if you please. 4454 W. Slauson Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 291-8800, orleansandyorkdeli.com.
When the smoker's going, you can smell the meat cooking halfway down the block, even before you see the big sign with the cartoon bulldog inviting you to "Come have some." Although the restaurant is known for rib tips, the tender sliced beef and smoky links are no slouches in the slow-cooked department either. They'll even give you a slice of white bread to mop up all the sauce. There's no place to sit, and the weekend lines can be long, so it's probably best to call ahead to pick up your order. Bring plenty of cash for lunch and for that extra slice of red velvet cake that beckons from the window. 3446 W. Slauson Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 294-9443, www.woodysbarbquela.com.
The lunchtime crowd lines up for the cafeteria-style servings of this stick-to-your ribs Southern food. Choose a meat and two sides (three for dinner) before finding a seat in the spacious dining room. Everything is served in generous helpings inside to-go Styrofoam containers, with a side of toasty warm corn bread wrapped in foil. The assortment of sides includes candied yams, black-eyed peas, collard greens, mashed potatoes and a gooey macaroni and cheese served fresh out of the oven. 4859 S. Crenshaw Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 296-3034, www.dulansoncrenshaw.com.
Southern Girl Desserts
Located in the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, this cheerful bakery cranks out Southern-style cupcakes and sweets. The most popular flavors are sweet potato and red velvet, but the more adventurous can try the rotating daily selection of cupcakes, like the Hennessey and Coke, pecan pie, or chicken and waffle. Yes, a chicken and waffle cupcake — and both the Hennessy and Coke cupcake and the chicken and waffle cupcake are available only on Fridays. Fresh pies and quiches come out of the oven all day, and the subtle banana pudding and flaky peach cobbler are available daily, as well. 3650 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 293-2253, southerngirldesserts.com.