Facebook Logo Twitter Logo Pinterest Logo

Nut Gourmet Blog Logo

only search Vegetarians in Paradise
VIP Bird
VIP Banner
Fill out your e-mail address to receive our newsletter!
*E-mail address:
*First Name:
Last Name:
Please let us know your location for special events:
Los Angeles:
(Outside USA):
Subscribe Unsubscribe


Vegan for the Holidays

Vegan for the Holidays has sold out its first printing.
New copies and the Kindle Edition are still available for purchase at Amazon.


Translate This Page

sphere Homepage

sphere News from the Nest

sphere Vegan for the Holidays Blog

sphere Vegan for the Holidays Videos

sphere Zel Allen's NutGourmet Blog

About Us


Weight Loss

Food History/Nutrition/Recipes


Nutrition Information

Los Angeles Resources

Cooking Tips/Recipes

Guest Contributors

Books/Media Reviews


sphere Archive Index

sphere Contact Us

*Privacy Policy: When you subscribe to Vegetarians in Paradise (vegetarian e-zine) your email address will not be sold or rented, and will only be used to let you know in an email what's new in our monthy web magazine.

All the world is nuts about

    What's in The Nut Gourmet

The Nutty Gourmet

Vegetarians in Paradise

 Vegetarian Restaurant Review

Equelecua  Restaurant Z: How often does one have the opportunity to dine at a new restaurant, enjoy a tasty meal, and leave feeling like you've spent a couple of sweet and heartwarming hours with your loving family? That was our memorable experience at Equelecua, a vegan restaurant specializing in flavorful Cuban dishes.

R: Opened June 2015, Equelecua (pronounced Ekel a KWA) is a cozy little café located in Airport Plaza, a business center featuring a number of restaurants in the Florence-Manchester area of Inglewood. The moment we entered, the inviting aroma of home cooking began to stir our curiosity about what we might soon be eating.

Equelecua  Restaurant Z: A splash of color greets the eye with brightly colored placemats on the dark wooden tables and red chairs. One cinnabar-colored wall features a large Cuban flag hung high above the table. The opposite wall has an array of wooden knickknack shelves holding all manner of fascinating small objects.

R: From the entrance we could see the outdoor patio covered with a large tent offering shade for enjoyable summer dining. The menu, laminated in firm plastic, adds another touch of color to the scene. Its blue-sky background and wind-tossed palm leaves hint of dining along the Cuban waters with cooling ocean breezes rustling the palms.

Equelecua  Restaurant Z: On the wall was a small blackboard listing special dishes not yet on the menu. Amber, one of our servers, greeted us and answered our many questions. We chose some items from the blackboard and some from the menu and began our Cuban feast with the Cuban Sampler. Served piping hot from the fryer were four Yuca fingers, three large, round yellow plantains called Tostones, and four sweet plantains called Maduros.

R: In a tiny cup for dipping was a compellingly delicious Mojo, a traditional Cuban sauce with lots of fresh, organic garlic, olive oil, and sour orange juice. Joining us that evening was our friend, Chuck, who loves to accompany us on our adventurous dining explorations. He didn't want to talk with a mouthful but, instead, kept nodding and uttering sounds of delight. Because our mouths were also full, we nodded back.

Z: Our second appetizer was the Alitos, aka Hot Wings, which were actually vegan chicken-style drumsticks, tossed in a delicious, juicy and spicy Agave Fire Sauce. These were fun, chewy, and finger-lickin' delicious.

Equelecua  Restaurant R: Next came the Tamal Cuban con Fricasé de Pollo a la carte. Although it looked like a typical tamale wrapped in a corn husk, its texture was uniquely different. Once unwrapped, it was not the typical firm, grainy texture one comes to expect of Mexican tamales. This tamal had a soft, silky, and creamy texture and was filled with soft, butter-textured, well-seasoned vegan chicken. We found this style of tamale unique and very compelling in flavor and texture. Most likely we'll order it on our next visit.

Z: We were curious about the a la carte Papa Relleno and were amazed to see a softball-sized, perfectly round sphere, crisply fried to a gorgeous golden brown hue. Inside were soft, flavorful mashed potatoes stuffed with Picadillo, a Sloppy-Joe-like mixture enhanced with sweet and sour flavors from a combination of pimiento-stuffed green olives and raisins.

R: I still can't figure out how Chef Julio could have made the Papa Relleno so perfectly round. He emerged from the kitchen from time to time to see how we liked his cooking and smiled enthusiastically when we offered our thumbs up.

Equelecua  Restaurant Z: Ordering a la carte gave us the opportunity to taste many items and still have room for more. But we went full bore with the Ropa Vieja, a tasty Cuban sofrito heaping with imitation beef strips in a deliciously savory sauté of onions, garlic, and red and green bell peppers. A generous cup of well-seasoned black beans and a mound of white rice filled the dish and completed our dinner.

R: Within a few minutes, Chef Julio emerged from the kitchen again to see if everyone was enjoying his specialties. With a giant smile, he nodded and disappeared, while we attacked this homey, tasty platter with generous portions. No one can possibly leave this lovable café hungry, especially when Chef Julio takes pride in his home-style cooking.

Equelecua  Restaurant Z: Desserts are not made at the restaurant but are certainly a delicious part of the offerings. We decided to order a piece of the Pina Colada Cherry Cheesecake and one Pineapple Rum Cupcake and share them. The cheesecake, made with a base of cashews, was frozen, giving it an unexpected crumbly texture as it was thawing, yet it was pleasantly sweet and satisfying. The cupcake was my favorite--it was moist with a definitive rum flavor and a generous measure of raisins.

R: Throughout our meal we were enjoying the exciting recorded sounds of great Cuban music featuring skilled percussion and the wonderful melodies typical of old Latin jazz.

Z: Owner Carolina Lafaurie was on hand to share her family's pride, her Colombian grandfather who lived to be 107 years old. He used to make flan for the family, and when he retired he spent many hours playing dominoes with friends in the summer. Making good use of the patio at the back of the restaurant, Carolina carries on the tradition with the set of dominoes she inherited from her grandfather. Handy with hammer and nails she made the tables.

Carolina Lafaurie R: While the present menu offers plenty of choices, it will soon be expanded to include Camarones Enchiladas, Shrimp in Sofrito; and Fricasé de Pollo, a chicken in sofrito. On weekends, diners can enjoy Congri y Paella, where beans and rice are cooked together.

Z: We noticed we were the last diners chatting with Carolina and servers Amber and Jonathan. Chef Julio came out to say goodbye and we shared hugs. In his limited English he explained that Equelecua means "It's good--everything is OK--just right." And it was!

R: One can definitely find good value at this little restaurant where Side Dishes are $4, Cuban Sampler $10, Dinners range from $12 to $14, A la Carte are $8 to $12, Sodas and Beverages are $3 to $5. Parking is in the spacious lot, The restaurant boasts free wi-fi and a comfortable patio for summer dining.

1120 W. Florence, Unit C, Inglewood, CA 90301
Phone: 323-741-2822
Hours: Monday 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Wednesday through Saturday 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Sunday 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Closed Tuesday
Website: http://www.equelecuacafe.com

Reviewed June 2016

Click here for past Dining in Paradise reviews

Vegetarians in Paradise

Homepage sphere Los Angeles Vegan Events Calendar sphere Our Mission sphere The Nut Gourmet sphere Vegan for the Holidays sphere Vegan for the Holidays Videos sphere Vegetarians in Paradise Diet sphere Vegan Survival Kit sphere News from the Nest sphere Vegan Recipe Index sphere Los Angeles Vegan & Vegetarian Restaurants sphere Vegan Basics 101 sphere Protein Basics sphere Calcium Basics sphere Ask Aunt Nettie sphere VeggieTaster Report sphere Vegan Reading sphere VegParadise Bookshelf sphereHeirloom Gardening sphere Cooking with Zel sphere Dining in Paradise sphere Cooking Beans & Grains sphere On the Highest Perch sphere Road to Veganshire sphere Words from Other Birds sphere Using Your Bean sphere Ask the Vegan Athlete sphere Vegan Holiday Meals sphere Great Produce Hunt sphere Farmers' Markets sphere Natural Food Markets sphere Vegetarian Associations Directory sphere Links We Love sphere VegParadise Yellow Pages sphere Media Reviews sphere 24 Carrot Award sphere Vegetarian Food Companies sphere Archive Index sphere Contact Us

© 1999-2015 vegparadise.com