Where to Eat and Drink Near SoFi Stadium
From a classic donut shop to fresh carnitas, Jamaican food, and more.
Football season is in full swing, which is especially exciting for LA Rams and Chargers fans who can now tailgate and watch games live at SoFi Stadium. The brand-new stadium in Inglewood was finished in September 2020, but was closed to fans last season due to the pandemic. Even more exciting? Both of our home teams are actually faring well this season (so far), with four wins and just one loss each.
But after a year of ordering delivery while you watch the game at home, you might be stumped as to where you should fuel up before or after you hit the stadium. The concessions inside of SoFi come courtesy of LA mainstays Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo (Jon & Vinny’s, Animal, Son of a Gun), and are themed after different neighbourhoods. For example, you can grab a classic hot dog or a cheeseburger sub at Fairfax Ave, or burritos and crispy shrimp tacos at Olvera Street. But if you’re looking to avoid those long lines and inflated stadium prices, there are plenty of spots in the surrounding neighbourhood to choose from. Inglewood is an area that’s rich with the cultural traditions of its residents, showcasing cuisines that range from soul food and Caribbean to Mexican and West African. Since you can’t take any food inside the new stadium, take this opportunity to get a taste of what one of Los Angeles’s best neighbourhoods has to offer.
Founded in 1952, and making countless TV and film appearances since (Get Shorty, Earth Girls Are Easy, and Iron Man 2 just to name a few), you’re likely familiar with the huge, emblematic donut that sits on Randy’s rooftop. But the rings that come out of this iconic donut shop are also worthy of your attention, especially if you’re heading to the stadium for an early game. Indulge in tried-and-tested offerings like a simple raised glazed donut, a Maple Long John with phenomenal shellacked frosting, or a deep-fried apple fritter with all the flavours of fall. Kids will love sugar-laden options like a funfetti cake with ganache or a Cinnamon Crunch raised donut. If you find yourself there during the AM rush, save time by ordering online and utilize the drive-thru.
How to order: Order at the window or online for takeout.
Family-owned Carnitas El Artista is the newest power player in LA’s already-robust carnitas scene, recently making the jump from Hawthorne backyard pop-up to this brick-and-mortar location. Despite the glow-up, the operation hasn’t lost that humble family vibe and you’ll still find most of them working behind the counter cooking up carnitas Michoacan-style, which involves simmering the pork in oil or lard until it’s fork-tender. Oh and the carnitas themselves? Well, let’s just say the menu boasts a variety of supple cuts that you can enjoy in hefty breakfast burritos with beans, eggs, potatoes, cheese, and pico de gallo; smothered chilaquiles with green or red sauce; or by the pound for some top-notch tailgate action. If you’re heading to the stadium on one of LA’s rare windy days, take advantage of their hot steaming bowls of menudo that will no doubt warm you up.
How to order: Walk in or order online to skip the line.
No trip to the city of Inglewood is complete without checking out at least one of the many Black-owned establishments seen on Issa Rae’s hit HBO show, Insecure. Those looking for their next caffeine fix will appreciate the expansive selection of offerings, like a Ethiopian drip-brew coffee with notes of nectarine, honey, and black tea, and a savory sweet potato latte. Hungry? Dive into their droptops, or thick-cut toasts topped with your choice of almond butter, smoked salmon, or avocado. Or maybe you’ll be more enchanted by their breakfast sandwich with a fried egg, cheddar cheese, bacon, and spicy mayo on a brioche bun. They’ve also got tiger shrimp tacos, a crispy chicken sandwich, and a tuna melt if you’re leaning more towards lunch fare. Whatever you do, save room for their beignets, deep-fried balls of dough that are covered in powdered sugar and give way to a plush and pillowy interior.
How to order: Walk in or order online for pickup.
Stop by this accessible takeaway spot for bold Caribbean flavors by way of Jamaica. Walking into the shop, you’ll be immediately greeted by the good vibes, from colorful green walls adorned with the Jamaican flag to the lively music that emanates from the kitchen. The hardest part will be choosing between protein options like oxtail, jerk chicken, and curried goat. Each entree is served over a plentiful bed of red beans and rice that delivers just the right amount of spice. If you want to get serious, grab a few of the superbly seasoned meat patties from the hot case-you won’t regret it. Wash it down with Jamaican grapefruit soda MVP, a carbonated fruit juice that acts as the perfect accompaniment to refresh your palate after each bite.
How to order: Walk in or pre-order on Yelp.
Specializing in Nigerian cuisine, this Inglewood mainstay is a great option for those seeking a sit-down experience before or after a game. Choose from staples such as various selections of egusi, a soup composed of leafy greens, ground melon seeds, and goat, which pairs well with fufu, or pounded yams with an almost mochi-like consistency that’s ideal for dipping. Feel free to get messy, they even set down a small bowl of water to clean your fingers mid-meal. The jollof rice, made with tomatoes, onions, and other spices, packs a serious punch, and adding an order of plantains is a no-brainer. To quench your thirst over the course of your meal, choose from a selection of palm juices or ginger beer.
How to order: Walk-ins only.
Look, we get it. Sometimes after the game (and especially after a loss), you’re just looking for some amount of comfort. You want a familiar experience that’s easy and won’t require trying something new. So pull up to the In-N-Out drive-thru or parking lot and appeal to those senses. There’s something about biting into one of their double-doubles (animal style with grilled onions, naturally) after a big event that feels ritualistic, especially when you’re sharing the drive-thru line with other hungry fans decked out in their team gear.
How to order: Pull into the drive-thru or mask up and walk inside.
If you’re looking for a filling breakfast or lunch that won’t ever let you down, cozy up to the counter and pay your respects to this neighborhood institution that’s always spilling over with crowds. Breakfast staples include perfectly fluffy pancakes served with steaming heaps of grits, and french toast that’s perfectly griddled with lace-like edges and dusted with powdered sugar. Of course, you’d be remiss if you didn’t also opt for an order of the crispy fried wings containing equal amounts of crispy crunchy goodness and just the right amount of seasoning. Also, don’t forget to add a side of the delectable salmon cróquettes to complement your meal.
How to order: Walk-ins only.
Perhaps your goal is to grab a bite in an environment that’s as far away from the stadium setting as possible. Look no further than 106 Seafood Underground, which you’ll find nestled in a residential neighbourhood between Inglewood and neighbouring Lennox. Here, Sergio Peñuelas, former chef at nearby Coni’ Seafood, has transformed his backyard into a Sinaloa-style mariscos paradise. You’ll also forget where you are, with the exception of the low-flying planes en route to nearby LAX. But truthfully none of that matters because when your food arrives your attention will be solely focused on what you’re about to consume. Heaping plates of marinero arrive at your table quickly, featuring succulent shrimp covered in a soy sauce-based salsa and bits of mango that deliver an almost heavenly bite of fresh, sweet, and umami goodness. Another solid option is their phenomenal aguachile, which comes with a sizable amount of full-sized, head-on shrimp drenched in their not-for-the-weak salsa verde. Bring your friends to feast family style.
How to order: Call 310-980-3893 for reservations.
It’s hard to resist the groovy sounds wafting from this sidewalk space that comes to life every day (except Mondays) around noon on a well-trafficked section of Market Street. Do yourself a favour and order the brisket… and the hot links… and the ribs-in fact, just go with a group so you can try a little bit of everything. The tender slabs of barbecue sauce-smothered meat melt in your mouth instantly, and pair perfectly with sides like mac and cheese, baked beans, and street corn. You also can’t go wrong with a side of the fresh greens, with sizable chunks of pork. The Wood also represents one of your best options for getting a brew or cocktail before or after a game.
How to order: Walk in or order takeout on Yelp.
Opened just a few months before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in LA in late 2019, this family-run restaurant specializes in both Italian and Italian-American classics like spaghetti and meatballs. Siblings Sol and Ghazi Bashirian took over the space from their father who operated a restaurant here for 42 years (first as Ahmady’s and later as Jino’s Pizza & Deli). Sunday Gravy proudly sources their handmade pastas from nearby Florentyna’s and ciabatta for its craveworthy garlic bread from local bakery, Cadoro. It’s the perfect place to feast either before or after a game.
How to order: Via Chownow
Gab Chabran is a contributor for Thrillist.