Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Crawling Lennox(ico) with Street Gourmet LA

Lennox Food Crawl with Streetgourmetla

I first found out about the city of Lennox from my friend, Bill aka Street Gourmet LA. Click here to read his original post about it. Simply, the stretch of Inglewood, between Century Boulevard and 111th Street, is a residential neighborhood that has been zoned for businesses, which means that homes have been converted to restaurants and other Latino-owned businesses. As soon as the words "restaurant" was mentioned, my ears perked up and after some arm pulling (actually, it wasn't that difficult to convince him), I brought together a few adventurous eaters from Pleasure Palate to do a 4 restaurant dining crawl led by Bill in Lennox or Lennoxico, as he affectionately refers to the city. Bill already posted his write-up on the experience, so I'm definitely behind the 8-ball, but such is the life of a food blogger. Technically, our first stop was at Don Rogelio, which is a Tex-Mex restaurant where we placed the order for food that we were going to share family-style.

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As the Don Rogelio cooks were preparing our dishes, we walked over to Lennox Pollo to check it out and even pick up a bird or two. With its blue roof and orange walls showcasing chickens cooking over flames, Lennox Pollo was definitely not hard to miss.

Walking in, the small dining room area was about as big as the kitchen itself and just as hot. I have to give real props to the kitchen staff for being able handle their cooking duties in that heat. I would have melted away. As we waited for our chicken, all our eyes were on them. From skewering the chickens, putting them into the fiery oven, taking the cooked ones out and then cutting them to put in plastic containers for people's orders and repeating, they got the job done efficiently and with purpose.

The end result was a juicy chicken that came with salsa and tortillas. You could get one for $6.99 or for $3.00 more, you could get two. Our hungry crew went for the twosome and luckily, Don Rogelio kindly let us devour our chicken along with the 6 other dishes we ordered from them.

Of those 6 dishes, two of them didn't do much for me. The Carnitas Mole had a "Southwest"-inspired mole sauce that had a grainy texture and a sour tangy flavor that I didn't like.

I may have liked the Stewed Tongue with Ranchera Sauce more if I didn't know what it was. Organ meats or tongue meat, in this case, have never been that appealing to me. I did taste a sliver, but although everyone else commented on how tender the tongue meat was and how good the sauce was, I couldn't get past my mental block.

Of the remaining dishes, I couldn't get enough of their housemade guacamole sauce. Made of avocados, tomatoes, green onions, lime and Texas seasonings, it was one of the best guacamoles I've ever had.

Their Chile Verde, which was diced pork simmered in tomatillo and Texas seasonings, was also one of my favorites of the meal. The pork was tender and moist and the tomatillo sauce was on the mark.

I thought the Barbacoa was also quite good. Just like the pork in the Chile Verde, the beef was tender and while the sauce wasn't that complex, it had a sweetness to it that was tasty. Overall, I found the food at Don Rogelio's to be solidly good and it would merit a return visit.

Two restaurants down and the next one we walked over to was Mariscos Chente, a Sinaloan seafood restaurant. At the time of our visit, Chef Sergio was at the helm. He has since moved over to their Westside location in Mar Vista. I've heard rumors that the current chef at the Lennox location is not on par with Chef Sergio, so you may still want to make the trek to where Chef Sergio is currently manning the kitchen.

Except for one fish dish, it was all about the shrimp with the first one being the Aguachile Shrimp which was raw shrimp with a lime-jalapeno salsa, onion, cucumber and salt. This was my first experience with raw shrimp and I loved how the spicy jalapeno sauce paired well with the sweetness of the shrimp.

Next to arrive was the Camarones Culiche. This time it was a cooked shrimp with a creamy poblano sauce. Even cooked, the shrimp still retained its sweetness and balanced well with the sauce which had a definite bite to it.

My favorite shrimp dish was the Camarones a la Pimienta which was shrimp with a butter and pepper sauce. How can you go wrong with a sauce made with butter? With the addition of the chili and black pepper, I enjoyed the zings of flavor that hit my taste buds with every bite.

Our sole fish dish of this meal was the Chicarron Pescado. This dish was fried fish skin cooked in soy sauce. There was actually still quite a bit of fish attached to the skin. The skin was delightfully crispy, but overall, I found the Chicarron Pescado a little too salty for my taste. Maybe, a little less soy sauce?

Last, but not least was the Camarones Checo, shrimp cooked with garlic, ketchup, lemon and Mexican salsa. The ketchup was a surprise, but not an unwelcome one. It added a hint of sweetness to the tart and pungent flavors of the lemon and garlic.

Mariscos Chente definitely awed my entire group with how good their seafood was and I told myself that this was one restaurant, I definitely needed to make a return trip to, sooner rather than later. A few months after this visit, the story of the delicious seafood at Mariscos Chente broke out all over the blogger sphere after Bill's write-up on his blog; however, it was nice to know that we got a preview of what was to come. Most of us were stuffed and actually didn't plan on making another restaurant stop, but soon found ourselves at Angelica's.

At Angelica's, we kept it a lot more simple and just sampled really small portions of 3 items. One of those items was a Chorizo Pambazo Sandwich, but we had such a small section that I can't really remember what it tasted like. We also had a Mole Verde Beef (beef with green mole) and Trocitos de Res (chopped beef in red sauce). I really liked the Mole Verde Beef. The only other time I had a mole verde sauce was at Guelaguetza, but the version at Angelica's was thicker and in my opinion, was better. I can't really explain why other than that it had a more intense flavor. I didn't think the Trocitos de Res was anything special. In fact, the red sauce seemed really bland.

Overall, this was quite a dining marathon and definitely introduced me to a part of town one may not expect to find good food. It just goes to show that if you take the time to do some exploring, you may discover one or two tremendous food finds. Either that or have a friend like Bill, who can do the exploring for you.

To see all the pics, go to:

Lennox Pollo
10822 Inglewood Avenue
Lennox CA 90304, USA

Don Rogelio's
10618 Inglewood Avenue
Lennox, CA 90304
(310) 677-1510

Mariscos Chente
10020 Inglewood Avenue
Inglewood, CA 90304
(310) 672-0226‎

Angelica's Restaurant
10533 S. Inglewood Ave
Lennox, CA 90304
(310) 412-7861


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