Arroz sin pollo

“Are you vegan?”

“No.”

“Are you vegetarian?”

“No.”

“You just like to eat?”

“Yes.”

That was a little bit of my conversation with Caro Lafaurie, who became a vegetarian at the young age of 13. Today she is the owner of Equelecuá Cuban Café in Inglewood, a vegan restaurant that takes our traditional Cuban dishes and – dare I say it – makes them even tastier.

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As you read from our exchange, I’m a meat-eater (a rarity here in Los Angeles), so I was expecting to quedarme con tremenda hambre and have to drive through the Jack in the Box at the corner of the restaurant, but alas I was wrong. So wrong in fact that I couldn’t finish my huge plate of Arroz con (sin) Pollo.

If you go: Equelecuá Cuban Café is located at 1120 W Florence Ave in Inglewood.

Secret sauce: If you ask the owner, it’s the organic garlic that hooks your taste buds into wanting more. If you ask me, it’s the casual patio seating with the Cuban music playing from an iPod. I felt like I was at a family reunion waiting for my turn at the domino table.

Must have: Make sure your plate comes with tostones o maduros, they are heavenly. The frijoles are on point. Try their aguas tropicales, especially the pineapple one because it puts a Jupiña to shame. Top off your meal with a legit cafesito.

I ordered: I started with the Cuban Nachos, which are mariquitas with picadillo y frijoles negros (heads up the pineapple salsa that they drizzle over it has a kick). Then, I had a huge plate of vegan arroz con pollo served with two tostones the size of my palm. My dinner date ordered the “no faux” plate special of maduros, arroz, frijoles y platanos maduros. And there was zero room for dessert.

 

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