Saturday, January 20, 2007

Holy Mole

If you're exhausted after a long week of work, walking into Guelaguetza will immediately lift your spirits--the live music, long tables of families celebrating birthdays, smell of mole spices in the air, and of course, the sight of margaritas shaking at the bar.

Guelaguetza has three locations in LA (we visited the one at Olympic/Normandie) and specializes in mole. For those unfamiliar with this Oaxacan treat, it's not "mohl" but "moh-lay". This long-cooked, chili-based, multilayered sauce comes from Oaxaca, Mexico, known as the "land of the seven moles." Ingredients usually include chocolate, roasted nuts, fat of some kind, roasted vegetables, and thickeners such as corn tortillas or plantains. Foodblogger Mattbites recently made his own mole, quite the project.

At Guelaguetza you can get red, yellow, green or black mole. Everyone gets to try the red-it comes slathered on a complimentary plate of fresh tortilla chips. The sweetish sauce gets a kick from the fiery green salsa served on the side. We cleared our portion in no time, and the waiter happily brought us more.

Though the expansive menu includes many non-mole related dishes, I had to try another, so I went with the enmoladas, three fresh corn tortillas stuffed with cheese, drowning in black mole. They come with your choice of meat on the side (really, on the top). My cecina (pork cutlet) was nothing to write home about, but it was a fine vehicle for devouring more of the addictive mole. Smoky and chocolate, a tad bitter and spicy too, I couldn't get enough of it.

Small but potent margaritas rounded out our evening (J ate the carnitas--large bone-in chunks of fried pork with tortillas, rice and beans), though we eyed with envy the tequila shots at the table next to us. We joined in a few rounds of Cumpleanos Feliz (Happy Birthday), then made our way out into the night. We passed up the chance to buy some mole to take home--we couldn't imagine having nearly as much fun in our kitchen alone.

3014 W Olympic Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90006-2516
(213) 427-0608
There's a parking lot in back, but there's also ample street parking
Photo by Justin

Visiting Guelaguetza means I get to cross another spot off my to-eat list. Here's the latest below--I've added a couple thanks to Tableau Vivant and Melting Wok. If you have recommendations, let me know and if I haven't already visited, I'll add them. They've gotta be east of La Cienega and not too $$.

The 2007 Erin's Kitchen Cheap To-Eat List (in no particular order)

Angeli Caffe (thx, Gastronomy 101)
Annapurna (thx, Kalyn's Kitchen--it's not east, but she's not a local, so it counts)
Casa Diaz (via Taco Hunt)
China Islamic (thx, Chez Shoes)
El Huarache Azteca (thx, Chez Shoes)
Food Garden Restaurant (thx, Melting Wok)
Golden Deli (thx, Anon)
Guelaguetza (via myself)
Halal Tandoori (via Eating LA)
J & J Restaurant (thx, LA-OC Foodie)
La Curva (via Foodie Universe)
Los Balcones de Peru (via All Kinds of Yum)
Noshi Sushi (thx, Rachael)
Paris Baguette (via LA Ritz)
Shin Sen Gumi Ramen (thx, Tableau Vivant)
Soot Bull Jeep (via Colleen Cuisine)
Zeke's Smokehouse (via Best of LA)


Anonymous said...

Sounds divine, although I still can't decide it I like mole or now.

Anonymous said...

you always have the best titles for your posts!

Erin S. said...

Chubbypanda--you should give Guelaguetza a shot if you're ever up from OC--even if you order something non-mole related you can try a little on the chips and enjoy the atmosphere.

Connie--thanks--glad someone appreciates my goofy puns :)

Anonymous said...

wholly moley, Erin :) Mole must be the "it" thing now, there's a lot of info you shared here, sounds really good. I think elmomonster had another mole quest couple post back, you should check that out too, it's at Taleo's Mexican Grill, cheers ! :)