EDITOR’S NOTE: @JThur01 wrote a great article and did a thorough interview with this business back at the end of the summer. My partner clued me into this right when I was getting super giddy after a second visit. Somehow that had slipped through my radar but I am glad I found this place and extra happy to read his background. Read that article here. Thankfully, they’re getting their own place now!
EDITOR’S NOTE #2: For anyone that tried Mia’s in Manhattan Beach, which was sort of treated like a unicorn in Los Angeles… no matter what you felt good or bad, try this place because it’s wonderful!
If you use Google Maps to search for TriniStyle Cuisine, it will lead you to a residential address in Lancaster in the northern reaches of Los Angeles County. Street View will clearly show the truck above parked at the house though, its red and white checkered pattern like that of a tablecloth in an Italian red sauce restaurant.
On Saturdays, this truck is driven across the county by its owner from her house to the tiny Century Plaza on the border of Gramercy Park and Westmont in South Los Angeles. They set up their operations under the cover in the middle elbow of the plaza, and plan to move into the space just behind this “soon,” the usual length of time when waiting on contractors, paperwork, and bureaucracy.
Until then, when presumably days of operation will expand and hours will be much longer, make a plan to visit them on a Saturday evenings at sunset and dance to the rhythm of this plaza for a small amount of time. Hopefully by summer there are far less COVID concerns, but even now the parking lot is alive with music from a Jamaican flag-colored mobile barber van and the outdoor (and out of your car) nature of the neighborhood, many of whose residents were walking up to the stand in curiosity.
After spending some time at Manchester and Van Ness earlier in 2020, then over to Manchester and Western, the TriniStyle team moved to their new location in November and anxiously await their move-in to become a bricks and mortar. This corner is perfect for them, and does the best Los Angeles can to replicate the central nightlife district in Port of Spain.
For anyone that has enjoyed themselves in Trinidad and Tobago’s capital city, you know that any night out will almost certainly include walking up to at least one of the many vendors that bring their stacks of home-prepared bara and vat of chana curry, along with jars of many chutneys. Doubles ($3, above) are often eaten for breakfast but are just as good or better as a late night snack. This banner food of the country is knocked out of the park here in South Los Angeles.
TriniStyle Cuisine’s two fluffy pieces of bara are the perfect stage for their delightful chickpea curry. Take every single chutney they offer especially tamarind, make it spicy like a doubles wants to be, and also enjoy the slight crunchiness they add with chopped up cucumber. Pack the wet napkins and eat your doubles in the parking lot (take it to your trunk please, we are in a pandemic) before grabbing the rest of your order to take home. These deserve to be eaten immediately.
While even hanging out with masks during these times is an enjoyable experience because of the group’s hospitality and the atmosphere created at the corner, warm summer nights and hopefully some outdoor tables in the future are something much to look forward to at Century Plaza.
The priciest item on the menu is probably stewed fish ($17, above), which is served in a massive circular container and includes big chunks of meaty mackerel (and sometimes red snapper depending on market prices). The sauce of the stew is excellent and oily, fun to mix around and dilute with cabbage and the Trini-style rice and peas. Worth every penny when you find it as the weekly special.
Available every (Satur)day is the stand’s fine chicken roti ($11, above), which can do battle with any other in the city. The most prominent difference here is that the meat is still bone-in, just like if you popped into a roti shop in the Caribbean to grab your lunch. Entry level user friendly rotis will get you media coverage and can even be quite tasty, but this is the ultimate craving finisher that Caribbeans will be seeking out.
The wrap itself is a fatty, probably more than a meal for all but the biggest appetites. The homemade dhalpuri roti is wonderful and still dusty from the dried yellow split peas used in its making. Bread lovers will be in an extra heavenly place when they find those folds near the end with multiple layers.
TriniStyle Cuisine, 2159 W. Century Blvd., Gramercy Park, South LA.