Family brings Afro-Mexican cuisine to community with new restaurant

A family business that started as an Afro-Mexican food truck has now expanded to a restaurant.

Tamales Elena y Antojitos recently opened in the Bell Gardens neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.

"I get to find out that we are actually one of the only people that will offer this kind of cooking you know, for L.A.," said Judepth Irra, the head chef at her family's restaurant.

"My mother she is from Costa Chica, Guerrero, and over there is mostly populated by Afro-Mexican people and they have a very special way of cooking," Irra added.

Irra immigrated to the United States with her relatives in 1996 from La Costa Chica in Guerrero, Mexico.

"We have...a lot of fresh produce that the people grow right there. We have a lot of like fish and a lot of fruits that in other parts of Mexico you don't find," said Irra.

"It has a lot of flavor, everything is spicy," she continued.

When the Irra family immigrated to the U.S., Irra's mother first started selling this unique coastal food out of baskets in Watts. In 2005, the family bought a food truck. Fast forward 15 years, they opened up a restaurant. "

Now we have this opportunity even with the shutdown of COVID-19 you know, we were able to get a handle on this business," said Irra. "I'm so happy we [took] this big step, you know, and we're not gonna stop."

For now, the restaurant has outdoor dining and takeout.

Tamales Elena y Antojitos
8101 Garfield Ave.
Bell Gardens, CA 90201