Mole poblano is one of the most iconic dishes in Mexican gastronomy, famous throughout the world alongside its rival, mole negro oaxaqueño, as both a formidable skill to master and a delicious celebration of Mexican technique and culture. Practically every Mexican restaurant concept ever conceived has placed mole poblano on their menu as both a proclamation (“we are a serious Mexican restaurant”) and wishful thinking.
Mole is a cooking method that must be mastered through generations of movements, timing, and culinary wisdom. The great chefs of modern Mexican cuisine have conquered this dish with the steadfastness of a jazz musician working out John Coltrane’s Giant Steps.
Eufrasia Salcedo learned to make mole poblano and mole al chipotle from her mother in Tepatlaxco de Hidalgo, Puebla and along with her husband, Lucio Morales and daughter, Marisol Feregrino, opened Las Molenderas in 2014. Their Boyle Heights location had a few challenges: no parking, limited seating, and it was partially obscured by the foliage of a tree.
In addition to the pair of moles inherited from her mother, Eufrasia added mole almendrado (almond mole), mole dulce (an original recipe of sweet mole), pipian verde (green pumpkin seed based dish), pippin dojo (red pumpkin seed dish) and pipián al chipotle (pumpkin dish with chipotle) to the menu from recipes she’s developed herself.
Two to three times a week, Eufrasia and Lucio toast and fry all the ingredients for the moles (over 30 ingredients for mole poblano) and pipiánes and then head over to a local tamalería to grind them into pastes.
Only places like Rocio’s Mexican Kitchen and La Casita Mexicana go to such lengths because the majority of our Oaxaca restaurants import artisanal mole negro pastes from Oaxaca due the intense labor required for the more baroque moles. While Marisol’s parents focus on the mole production, she is in charge of front-of-house duties and marketing, which means conventional mole dishes. They’ve created everything from mole fries and mole tacos to rope in customers seeking tradition, though it’s also a way to introduce Mexican-Americans to the notion that mole is as much a dish as it is a sauce.
At their new location in Huntington Park, which opened on August 5, the Las Molenderas team has added parking, more seats, and bathrooms — luxuries that they didn’t have at their previous location in Boyle Heights. As with before, the moles and pipiánes are sent out as samples so diners can choose their favorite to be poured over chicken with rice and beans, enchiladas, in burritos, on top of nachos and fries and liberally sluiced atop fried eggs. In a city rich with moles from Oaxaca, Michoacan, Puebla, and Guerrero, Las Molenderas sets a new standard for artisanal Mexican cookery.
Las Molenderas is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., with a 7 p.m. closure on weekends.
Las Molenderas. 2635 Gage Ave, Huntington Park, (323) 583-1933