Feeding the World, One Kumquat at a Time

Before you see the chunky wooden furniture, smell the subtly sweet aroma of toasting grains, or taste the luxurious silkiness of pulverized banana, the bass heavy pulse put out by Locol’s in-house speakers will tell you everything you need to know about the restaurant’s modus operandi. The sound of clattering silverware and pans adds percussion to a soundtrack that is heavy on the old-school rap and R&B, creating an ambiance that is as convivial as it is loud.

 

Roy Choi, a permanent fixture among modern foodie circles, created Locol with a single goal in mind: to make food that was healthy, delicious, and always accessible. In this sense, the fact that the restaurant is located in south Los Angeles, which has traditionally been saddled with a reputation for being both poor and dangerous, makes a poignant statement about who the restaurant is really intended for. After all, it is this part of the city that suffers hardest from food insecurity, with a large portion of the population rendered geographically incapable of gaining access to fresh and nutritious meals.

 

Although Locol’s stated goal is decidedly populist (every item costs less than ten dollars), the menu is as nuanced and playful as one would expect from any Roy Choi project. Well-dressed burgers contain roasted grains that not only enhance the meat’s umami flavors, but also adds healthy fiber to a traditionally unhealthy meal. And then there’s the kumquat, acidic and piquant atop a slick of vanilla soft serve. Such an ingredient might seem smug, if it weren’t created with such sweet and wholesome intentions.

 

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