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Sazon Latin Fusion cheap & healthy in Culver City

There’s this new, snazzy food mecca in downtown Culver City where Ford’s Filling Station, Wilson and Fraiche rub shoulders. Then there is this funky ethnic neighborhood where the locals eat. Sazon Latin Fusion is one of those places that locals hang out who can’t afford Fraiche prices. Chef Claudia has taken over the spot once home to Tacos Mexico. And taken over, she has. She’s a feisty cook who commands a firm hand over foods in her own earthy fusion style. Not content with the ordinary Mexican cooking of her ancestors, she brings a healthier, lighter touch to her foods. Sazon means seasoning and Claudia is deft at seasoning but light on salt. I stumbled on it after a trip to B&B Hardware. All I wanted was the daily special, hot chicken soup. For 2.99 I was served a good-size steaming bowl of Mexican penicillin that was enough to take home for an other meal. Little dots of herbs floated to the top bringing flavor and boldness to the chicken and rice. This was so tasty that I ordered a plate of birria. Claudia makes it with beef instead of goat. The sauce defines the dish, not the goat. I returned with a couple of buddies and ordered a saucy barbacoa, my friend had the Sazon salad with shrimp and took half of it home. I enjoyed my meal so much I returned with a few friends from Pleasure Palate. Our little party of 13 managed to taste the majority of items on her menu, plus some extras that may soon be available. We loved it. We tasted 14 dishes and never came away feeling over laden with cheese, or beans fried in lard. It may serve you well to know that Mofongo is alive and well on the Westside. Sazon serves it in a wooden cup lined with mashed plantains and filled with a stew of shrimp or chicken. I can recommend the Pescado Tropical, white fish, served on spinach mashed potatoes. It’s lightly breaded and gently sautéed then drizzled with a delicious little sauce. Nothing is over-the –top from her kitchen. When you crave a healthy Latin dish, I suggest you go here. And when it’s all over, try one of her desserts, capirotada (bread pudding or natilla (egg custard). On my driving scale of 1 – 10 miles I would drive 15 miles for some of this comfort food that’s kinda’ like Mom is in the kitchen, cooking up a storm, but she’s watching your cholesterol and going lite on the salt. But there’s shaker on every table for those of us who want to live la vida loca.

Sazon Latin Fusion
12406 Washington Blvd., Culver City, CA 90066
Tel: 310.390.9501

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  1. I recall seeing Dommy's review of this place last year: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/531421 and it's good to hear another positive take on it. Thanks for your post.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Servorg

      I had to go back and try the chilaquiles with red sauce for brakfast today (best chilaquiles in LA)...my friend had the sonoran hotdog...he was still a little hangover...he was soooo pleased he yelled out "this is exactly what I needed".

    2. Thanks, adding a link

      12406 Washington Blvd, Culver City, CA 90066

      1. Thank you so much for the recommendation, I went there for breakfast with a friend and it was unbelievable, there is NO better service in LA (and I have been in almost every restaurant), I love to eat but I can not cook for the life of me.
        I had the huevos ala mexicana and my firend had the french bolillo...wow!
        I can not wait to go back and try the Pescado Tropical...I am actually going to organize a group for this weekend from my church...prices are out of this world, you do not find these prices anywhere else, I am happy to know there are poeple like Claudia still left in this area, awared of the unemployment and bad economy, she keeps her prices so affordable, I will be able to eat there at least twice a week without going broke.
        You are absolutely right from a driving scale of 1-10 miles I would drive 15 or more miles...it is worth the drive even though it is only about 2 miles from my house but I thank you for point it out...it is home 2 miles away from home, Claudia does make you feel at home with an elegant looking home meal plate.

        thanks again,

        1. I had dinner here last night, and I echo the praise of this great little place. I ordered the Sazon chicken- chicken breast and wing (with bone) stuffed with plaintain paste covered in mole sauce. My friend had the Pollo Espinaca special, which was stuffed with spinach and vegetables. Both were served with white rice and black beans for $8.95 each. We shared the ceviche as an appetizer ($7.95), which came with both corn chips and fried plaintain chips. We both thought the ceviche could use more lime, but that was easily remedied. I did need more salt as well, but the menu states that "we cook our food in soy bean & vegetable oil with very little and/or NO salt!" So I didn't feel yoo guilty about adding salt to my taste. The salsas at the salsa bar (cilantro, tomatillo and your regular red, and there were pickled carrots too) all tasted very fresh and homemade. I was envious of all the dishes coming out of the small kitchen for the other tables. I had the corn cake with chocolate sauce for dessert. Not too sweet (except for the drizzle of sauce), and just the right texture to finish everything off.

          Claudia was very welcoming, warm and efficient. She was the only one serving the 5 tables occupied when we were there, and we never felt neglected. Her service was excellent. She suggested we try one of her juice specials, and when we looked a little reluctant, she brought us three samples of each of the juices. They were all delicious, and damned if I can remember the exact types, but I think one was cantaloupe, one was pineapple with some other combo, and hibiscus, which she said was more like a tea. Sold! The hibiscus was perfect for me, a little tart and reminiscent of pomegranate. I want to go back today for that alone. This is definitely the kind of place that you wish would open within a block of your house, and you would probably end up at a couple times a week- too bad it's not closer to me.

          1 Reply
          1. re: h2obemo

            Dido...the jamaica...hibiscus is out of this world...but the sazon chicken is not far behind, I went back today for lunch...this place is so unique. I sort of feel like part of me wants to keep this place a secret because is just a matter of time where you have to wait awhile to get a table...I mean...I know it will get very busy once it gets discovered by the rest of the neighbors...yes I am glad it is just around the corner from my house, so I am lucky and I will be eating there often.
            I had the chicken soup...AMAZING and the hibiscus drink.

          2. I stumbled upon this post earlier today while looking for a new place to eat, and am very glad to have found it. I went for an early dinner just before 5pm, and was welcomed into the very orange and black decor of the quaint restaurant (btw, I like the orange and black, it felt quite comfortable) by Claudia.

            They only had 3 agua frescas today, watermelon, tamarindo and hibiscus. I opted for the watermelon. It was a little different than other watermelon agua frescas, and i couldn't quite put my finger on it, until she proclaimed "it's got tomato in it"! It was very good, but I think the tomato lessened the sweetness of the drink, which I like.

            I opted for a spinach and cheese empanada - I wanted to try an empanada again, after giving up on them after having a bunch of too thick, bland empanadas. This was much better than any other empanada I'd had (not that it's alot, but it put the others to shame). It was light and crisp, with a warm, fresh-cheesy spinach on the inside, drizzled lightly w/ crema. A good start to the meal.

            She recommended the barbacoa (though this isn't what I typically consider barbacoa), which was cut up chunks of pork, cooked slowly with some spices, almost like a barbecue sauce. I am a sucker for pork, so I decided on that (instead of the pollo rostizado). My meal came a short while later, and the food looked great. It came with rice and beans, tortillas, and onions and cilantro and cabbage. The pork was very moist and easily fell apart as I pulled at it with the fork. I piled some of the pork onto the tortilla and topped it with a little cilantro and onions and took a bite - delicious! It tasted quite like barbecued pork, and that was fine by me (since I had debated BBQ, but didn't want to drive out of the westside). The beans (which I mixed into the rice) had some cut up green onions to give them a little extra flavor, and they too were quite good.

            I finished my meal, just almost to the point of being full, but quite satisfied. Everything was delicious, and it all felt quite healthy as well. Prices are very reasonable - entrees range from $7.95 to $10.95, and service was fantastic. Very personable and kind, and helpful with ordering too. It looks like they have dishes from all over Latin America - and they have Mofongo, which I intend on getting back and trying. Next time you're in Culver City, give this place a try.

            1. I guess im going to have to try this place again. While i agree with all the comments regarding the hospitality and how nice Claudia is, unfortunately on my one visit there, the food was awful. It was some sort of beef dish and the beef may as well have been an old piece of leather. It was unchewable, unedible and just plain bad. I really cant emphasize how bad it was. My SO and I were really disappointed because we live very close to this place and were hoping it would be good. Both our dishes unfortunately were really bad.
              Based on the recent posts on CH I will give it another shot. Hopefully its better now.

              I will say that on the night that we visited, Claudia was not cooking. She was in the dining room and spent most of the time speaking with us. I felt like she had great intentions but that whoever she had in the kitchen was really letting her down.

              1 Reply
              1. re: carln

                I like your attitude, we should all give places a second even a third time..even people sometimes. On that note, I have not gone back to Sazon in a while trying different places (god..have I missed Claudia's food)...anyways we have been eating out at the new places in downtown...what a waste of money and time..."NO NAMES TO PROTECT THE INNOCENT" We went back to Sazon last nioght and had the Sazon Chicken, enpanadas and seafood combo...wow.
                I did miss it and I am not staying away from this confort, reasonable and delicious food as long as I did before...I will be back again and again.

              2. I went back to try the Birria and I just want to agree with you..it is sooooo good.
                My friend ordered the enpanada plate...wow he said on the frist bite of the picadillo.
                We left very satisfied...we had desert...amazing Natilla (first time for both of us), corn meal has never tasted this good for me.
                If you have not tried this place you are missing out...awesome food, great prices.

                1 Reply
                1. re: c.c.

                  My wife and I tried it this past week - I had the barbacoa, she had the sazon chicken.

                  The service, indeed, was very good. Claudia came our table (this was for lunch) and we chatted amicably about the food.

                  This all said, I can't say I found the food very memorable. The sazon chicken was on the dry side and under spiced. My pork barbacoa was tender but they use a conventional-tasting BBQ sauce with it that's a little too cloying and overpowers the dish. Flavor-wise, it seemed "off." All of it was very healthy tasting (which, perhaps, was part of the problem); I could appreciate the level of refinement, I just wanted something more memorable.

                  I'll probably give it a second shot somewhere down the line, regardless.