Today my wife and I ate lunch at the Homegirl Cafe on Alameda near Chinatown, just down the street from the more popular Phillipes.
The restaurant is housed in part of the first floor of the parent organization Homeboy Industries headquarters, a new and attractive building. The interior is very nice - it has a clean, open look and feel to it because of the abundant window space as well as the modern tables not being too close to one another. Lots of artwork adorns the walls and it feels very comfortable inside.
All of the staff are young women, either former gang members or considered to be at risk of becoming one, but here they are trained for more worthwhile endeavors, and to live up to the motto on the back of their t-shirts that says "nothing stops a bullet like a job." What we saw were a group of women who seemed to enjoy what they were doing, and were working very hard at it as well.
We were served a bowl of chips to begin (black and white tortillas) and some decent salsa. The menu has a lot of interesting items on it, far from your run-of-the-mill Mexican restaurant.
My wife had the half-sandwich half-salad combo, the sandwich being "YuYu's" turkey with mango. The salad had a lot of ingredients as well, including mango and jicama. I had a couple of tacos: salmon with jalapeno pesto; and tofu chorizo. Yup, tofu chorizo. The tofu actually tasted like and had the consistency of chorizo and I'm sure it was a lot healthier for me than the real thing! I also got a side of arroz verde (green rice) that was pretty tasty. The bill for two of us before tip but with tax was $14 and we were pleasantly full.
I was thinking what a shame that Phillipes, a couple blocks away, is so crowded and Homegirl Cafe had so many empty tables (at most it was half full while we were there) because while I know they serve two different types of food, Homegirl has the more interesting menu. Anyway, we were satisfied and I wanted to give them thumbs up in hopes of furthering their success because what they and their parent organization is trying to do is a wonderful idea.
I'm attaching a few photos. For more photos and a little bit more detailed review, please visit my blog: http://tinyurl.com/5ee643
I second your opinion! We love Homegirl and began eating there when they were on 1st Street in Boyle Heights. Patty Zarate, the woman who came up with their menu is a amazing. She's really made their food healthy, tasty and colorful with blends of tastes and textures. Their breakfast is also amazing (try the special chilequiles). You also have to try their drinks. Our favorites are the raspberry-lime-mango and the green lemonade with mint & spinach. They're both really refreshing. I love being able to eat out for a "good cause" Homegirl is having a chef night with Martha Esquivel from Border Grill next week on August 28th. For more info, you can call (323) 526-1254. I believe every community needs a Homegirl Cafe & Homeboy Bakery......It's a great business model and I know I'd be there more if I didn't live so far away.
so many of their items are terrific.
next time be sure to try sara's drink (a combination of mango and raspberry juices)
the amazingly delicious sweet roast corn drizzled with cotija cheese and sour cream.
the blueberry muffins they sell from the bakery case in the front near the cash register are also very good (they are baked by the guys from homeBOY industries).