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Illustrated map of colorful locations
(Brandon Ly / Los Angeles Times)

8 Black-owned spots that define the Crenshaw corridor

The shiny teal pickup truck that gleams in the parking lot at Earle’s on Crenshaw. The maze-like Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, where a cozy dessert shop and stylish restaurant hide behind multilevel parking garages. The 780-foot-long “Great Wall of Crenshaw” mural that depicts key points and figures throughout Black history.

These are just a few of the landmarks that color Crenshaw Boulevard, a 23-mile-long thoroughfare that stretches from the high-rises of Mid-Wilshire to the cliffsides of Rancho Palos Verdes. Zoom in on the sections bordering neighborhoods like Jefferson Park, West Adams, Leimert Park and View Park-Windsor Hills and you’ll find the pulse of Black Los Angeles.

“We have a high concentration of Black residents and businesses right along the boulevard,” says Jason Foster, president and chief operating officer of Destination Crenshaw. “We have cultural references from music to movies, and people who are actually driving the culture, like Issa Rae and Ava DuVernay, who got their grounding right here on Crenshaw.”

A Black man with a white beard, wearing an Earle's T-shirt, seated in an aqua pickup truck, its door ajar
Duane Earle of Earle’s on Crenshaw.
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)
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The Crenshaw corridor has undergone drastic changes in recent years, including the sale of the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza to a local developer and the creation of the Metro K line that runs at-grade from West Vernon Avenue in Leimert Park to Slauson Avenue in Hyde Park. As developers prepare for new tourists and residents coming to the area, additional mixed-use residential and retail developments have emerged.

Intent on reducing displacement, Destination Crenshaw aims to transform Black L.A.’s main thoroughfare with community investment, green spaces and public art commissioned from more than 100 Black artists. The years-long project is expected to be unveiled later this year, and Foster’s hope is for Crenshaw to live in public consciousness as “a Black place,” similar to Harlem’s 125th Street, which has been a center for Black arts and culture since the early 20th century.

The new Crenshaw/LAX line is already bringing new money to the cultural hub of L.A.’s Black community. But many fear high prices will push residents out.

Oct. 7, 2022

“It’s so critical to see permanence as far as our culture and our businesses on this street,” Foster says.

Greg Dulan and his family have been titans in L.A.’s restaurant scene for more than 50 years, beginning with the fast-casual mini-chain Hamburger City founded by his father, Adolf Dulan, in 1977 and followed by Aunt Kizzy’s Back Porch, which became Marina del Rey’s first soul food restaurant when it opened in 1985. In 1992, just six weeks after the Rodney King riots, Greg Dulan opened his own restaurant, Dulan’s on Crenshaw.

To promote the opening, Greg did an interview with a local news channel, but when it aired the host mistakenly announced that the soul food spot — the first Black-owned restaurant to open on Crenshaw Boulevard since the riots — was giving away free food. Within minutes, Dulan’s on Crenshaw was swarmed.

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“We had lines of people and sold out of everything,” says Greg. “That was probably the best marketing move.”

Just like Aunt Kizzy’s Back Porch, Dulan’s on Crenshaw quickly became a neighborhood fixture, even attracting celebrity clientele.

“Rosa Parks and Mayor Tom Bradley would come to the restaurant and eat breakfast,” Greg says. “But the main thing I love is the people of Los Angeles.”

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The community support for Dulan’s on Crenshaw — recently reopened after a years-long renovation that added a second kitchen for catering and additional seating for dine-in customers — hasn’t waned. Days after the restaurant’s grand reopening, Greg gets emotional, saying, “I love what I do and I love where I do it. I love working in the neighborhood where I grew up. I feel like I’m making a difference, you know what I mean?”

Cars pass along Crenshaw Boulevard in front of Dulan's
Newly renovated, Dulan’s on Crenshaw stands out with bright green and red signage.
(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

Other Black-owned restaurants nearby haven’t been as lucky. After three years of service, Hotville Chicken — a counter-service restaurant from Kim Prince, whose family is behind the original Nashville-style hot chicken recipe — closed in the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza in late 2022. In a city teeming with hot chicken outposts, the closure was a stark reminder of the additional hurdles faced by Black restaurant owners.

Greg Dulan, who is partnered with Prince on the Dulanville food truck, says he was motivated to remodel Dulan’s on Crenshaw in anticipation of the K Line bringing more visitors to the neighborhood.

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VIDEO | 14:50
Nashville Hot Shrimp and Grits with Dulanville’s Kim Prince

“I did not want to have a dated restaurant trying to compete with brand new restaurants,” he says. Now, you can’t miss Dulan’s Christmas-themed signage on the corner of Westmount Avenue. On weekends, the new covered patio hums with post-church activity.

But don’t disregard the storefronts that aren’t as flashy. There’s plenty to discover along Crenshaw Boulevard, from murals honoring neighborhood rap icon Nipsey Hussle to the Taste of Soul festival that draws more than 350,000 attendees for a one-day celebration of Black food and culture. This guide serves as a primer for getting to know the Black-owned businesses in this district, including a long-standing barbecue joint, a community-minded cannabis club and much more.

As Los Angeles’ boulevards reassert their place in the public realm, the transformation along Crenshaw offers glimpses of a new city identity taking shape

Sept. 21, 2012

Showing  Places
Banner sign for the Crenshaw Farmers Market
(Danielle Dorsey / Los Angeles Times)

Crenshaw Farmers Market

Hyde Park Grocer
Full disclosure: Not every business at this weekly farmers market is Black-owned, but it is a great way to discover local Black-owned farms and food businesses. From SEE-LA, the Crenshaw Farmers Market pops up in the AFIBA Center (Fire Station 54) parking lot off Crenshaw near Slauson Avenue, every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., with established farmers as well as rising names. On a recent weekend, Delmy’s Pupusas was on hand with plump pupusas paired with aguas frescas, while the market’s newest vendor, Mushroom King Farm, offered organic shiitake, oyster and King Trumpet mushrooms by the pound, plus local produce from Mellano Farms, Ayala Farms and more. CalFresh and WIC checks are accepted.
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Los Angeles, CA - January 30: A plate of smothered chicken with mac and cheese and a corn side dish is seen at Dulan's on Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2024 in Los Angeles, CA. Dulan's on Crenshaw is a family-owned restaurant in South LA that is known for their soul food cooking. (Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)
(Dania Maxwell/Los Angeles Times)

Dulan's on Crenshaw

Hyde Park Southern $$
For more than 30 years, Dulan’s on Crenshaw has watched the boulevard evolve, with spots like Earle’s moving to new addresses while others closed altogether. Owner Greg Dulan, whose father, Adolf, founded Marina del Rey’s first soul food restaurant in 1985 with Aunt Kizzy’s Back Porch, is intent on keeping up with the times though. The fast-casual restaurant just completed a years-long renovation that swapped the previous cafeteria-style format for counter service and includes the creation of a second kitchen for takeout and catering so the main kitchen can focus on dine-in customers. There are plenty of tables for two and four inside, but it’s the newly revealed covered patio overlooking the boulevard that’s sure to be crowded this summer. The menu remains straightforward with comfort-driven soul food plates: fried chicken and fish, oxtails, smothered pork chops or meatloaf — your hardest decision will be choosing which two sides to pair with your meal, with options such as baked mac and cheese, collard greens, candied yams and black-eyed peas. Each order comes with two pieces of perfectly bouncy and moist cornbread.


WATCH: Jenn Harris get a lesson in fried chicken with Greg and Terry Dulan

WATCH: Greg Dulan’s Dulanville truck partner Kim Prince make Nashville Hot Shrimp and Grits

READ: Jonathan Gold’s 1993 review of Dulan’s on Crenshaw
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An overshot shot of a trio of hot dogs with toppings
(Mariah Tauger/Los Angeles Times)

Earle's on Crenshaw

Leimert Park American $
Brothers Duane and Cary Earle first started selling hot dogs from a cart that they pedaled up and down Venice Boardwalk, but it was the community at the Marlton Avenue Swap Meet in Baldwin Hills that embraced them and encouraged them to put down roots in South L.A. They opened Earle’s Weiners on Crenshaw Boulevard in 1992, and though they’ve changed locations and names since then (the place was once known as Earlez Grille), their latest location in the Crenshaw Square has allowed the L.A. Times Hall of Fame restaurant to remain a fixture on the boulevard. Today, the menu includes vegan options (such as a snappy plant-based link from Field Roast), burgers, Jamaican patties and desserts, but this is the kind of place where the staff is happy to customize your order to your liking and you’ll end up getting the same thing over and over. For me, it’s a kosher beef link topped with shredded cheese, caramelized onions, hot mustard and beef chili, with fries and a fruity Playa punch on the side.

READ: Bill Addison’s 2023 induction of Earle’s into the L.A. Times restaurant Hall of Fame
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LOS ANGELES-CA-OCTOBER 21, 2021: Kika Keith, owner of Gorilla Rx cannabis dispensary in Los Angeles, is photographed on Thursday, October 21, 2021. (Christina House / Los Angeles Times)
(Christina House/Los Angeles Times)

Gorilla Rx Wellness

Leimert Park Dispensary
“Black women get us higher.” That’s what the mural outside Gorilla Rx, a Black-woman-owned cannabis shop on Crenshaw Boulevard, affirms. The shop from co-owners Kika Keith and Haquika “Kika” Houze offers plenty of products from Black-, women- and LGBTQ+-owned brands to help you achieve that goal literally, as well as merchandise emblazoned with the slogan. Gorilla Rx is a fixture at neighborhood events too, including hosting a recent Valentine’s Day soiree with infused food and drink as well as the Great Day on Crenshaw festival in fall 2023, complete with in-store activations, yoga and a movie night.
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Exterior of Phillips Bar-B-Que on Crenshaw

Phillips Bar-B-Que

West Adams Barbecue $
With so much change happening on Crenshaw Boulevard, it’s comforting to see Phillips Bar-B-Que, from Foster Phillips (first cousin of Woody Phillips, who founded Woody’s Bar-B-Que), remain the same. Plumes of smoke still waft from the restaurant’s vents, catching your attention as soon as you pull into the parking lot. The brick-and-wood-paneled interior is takeout-oriented with just a couple of seats, but there are a few patio tables that face the busy intersection. The barbecue stand can get busy on the weekends, especially during the summer and for grilling holidays, but you can skip the lines by stopping by for lunch, which offers white bread sandwiches stuffed with pork or beef ribs, chicken or beef links, rib tips, chicken or sliced beef, with a side of macaroni or potato salad, coleslaw or baked beans. Additional sides like mac and cheese, greens and yams are available for an extra charge. They’ll ask if you prefer mild, hot or mixed sauce — I go for the mixed option that balances spice with a hint of sweetness. Ask if there’s any cornbread, and if so, be sure to add it to your order.

READ: Jonathan Gold’s 1991 review of Phillips Barbecue

READ: Laurie Ochoa’s 1993 interviews with barbecue men Foster Phillips and Woody Phillips
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The shrimp and grits at Post & Beam
(Shelby Moore / For The Times)

Post & Beam

Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw Californian Southern $$
Hidden behind the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, the neighborhood restaurant from John and Roni Cleveland is hardly a secret these days. It’s appeared on restaurant critic Bill Addison’s guide to the 101 best restaurants in L.A. for two years running and won The Times’ 2020 Gold Award. Today it stands out with a California-specific rendition of soul food that reimagines classic dishes with farmers market produce, like vegan crab cakes with black-eyed pea hummus. In addition to Southern staples like shrimp and grits, collard greens and mac and cheese, Post & Beam offers a selection of hand-stretched pizzas, sandwiches, burgers and salads to round out the menu. The dining room is stylish yet approachable, comfortable for a date, casual catch-up with a friend or group dinner, while the plant-filled patio often books up for Sunday brunch when violinist Alan Price takes to the stage with soulful cover songs.

READ: Amy Scattergood’s 2019 story on Post & Beam staying in local hands

READ: Laurie Ochoa on Post & Beam receiving the 2020 L.A. Times Gold Award
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The storefront of Southern Girl Desserts
(Danielle Dorsey / Los Angeles Times)

Southern Girl Desserts

Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw Southern Desserts $
This small, dessert-focused storefront at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza comes courtesy of Catarah Coleman and Shoneji Robison, two Florida transplants who wanted to bring their sweet Southern recipes to Los Angeles. The “Cupcake Wars” winners specialize in cupcakes offered in an array of flavors, from red velvet and vanilla buttercream to innovative creations such as chicken and waffle and Hennessy and coke, with plenty of vegan options. Puddings and cookies also are available, including butter cookies, my favorite, that Robison compares to a chocolate chip cookie without the chocolate chips. Whole cakes and pies are available to order with at least 72 hours’ advance notice.
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Los Angeles residents watch a town hall meeting during a watch party at the Metaphor Club
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

The Metaphor Club

Leimert Park Co-working club
This Black-owned co-working club in Leimert Park is one of the most affordable memberships you’ll find in the city — just $99 per month or $19 for a day pass. With comfortable couches and ergonomic office chairs, it’s a comfortable working space where coffee and ideas flow freely. The Metaphor Club hosts regular events ranging from film screenings to writers workshops and monthly cold table reads. Its location in the heart of Leimert Park makes it convenient to take a study break and browse Art + Practice’s free gallery, grab ice cream from the All Chill shop or take a stroll in Leimert Park Plaza.
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