How does one small, Central American country acquire such a rich culinary tradition? It's all in Belize's history, which is full of Creole, British, Mexican, Mayan and South American influences. You can taste the cultural fusion at Flavors of Belize on La Brea Avenue, where thickly fried tortilla chips share menu space with conch fritters, oxtail stew, meat pies and their own unique escabeche. For the protein-obsessed, expect a lot of dark-meat chicken: in the black and soupy chirmole, stuffed into fried corn panades and shredded atop the fried, round salbutes that every table seems to order. When in season, there's plenty of conch on the menu as well, but year-round diners can still fill up on flaky ground-beef meat pies or regional ducunu tamales, freshly ground from nubs of steamed corn. 1271 S. La Brea Ave., Mid-City. (323) 937-7710. —Farley Elliott
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