LA’s Oaxacan food is some of the best regional Mexican fare in the city. Here’s a handy map of all the restaurants, markets, bakeries, and shops that serve amazing Oaxacan food, from moles and tlayudas to tacos and tamales. For a complete guide to Oaxaca’s greatest dishes, notable Oaxacan chefs in LA, and more detail of LA’s best Oaxacan restaurants, check out the Definitive Guide to Oaxacan Cuisine in Los Angeles.Read More
Where to Eat the Best Oaxacan Food in Los Angeles
Mole, tlayudas, tacos, tamales, and more
La Asuncion Restaurante
The menu of tasty moles, enfrijoladas, tlayudas, antojitos, and seafood from the Pacific coast is standard fare from the Valles Centrales, except for the North Hills address for this San Fernando Valley outlier. The house specialties are grilled cecina (pork in adobo), tasajo (beef jerky), or Oaxacan chorizo served in combo plates with white rice. Epazote-scented black beans and tasajo added to chilaquiles make for a true Oaxacan breakfast.
Taquero and mixe entrepreneur Fermin Martinez has been bringing Mexico City-style al pastor to the far reaches of Los Angeles, in a taco scene dominated by the mixe indigenous group from Oaxaca. Whether in Torrance, El Monte, South LA, or the San Fernando Valley, more Angelenos can enjoy the city’s best al pastor tacos, mulitas, tortas, and alambres with flavorful pork featuring a fine char and light sweetness when carved from the vertical spit in nice chunks.
Rincon Oaxaqueno Restaurant
With two locations in Hollywood, Gabriel Cruz, who opened his first restaurant on Western Avenue in 2003, has established himself as one of the major players in Oaxacalifornia, participating in and organizing events in the Oaxacan community. Cruz is the only one in LA doing caldo de piedra, or stone soup. It consists of shrimp, fish, onions, chiles, tomatoes, cilantro, and epazote loaded into a jícara (gourd) and rapidly boiled by a hot river stone that’s dropped into the soup.
La Oaxaqueña Mini Market
With locations in Pico-Union, Westlake, and Hollywood, LA’s largest carnicería (butcher shop) and market chain is a one-stop shop for Oaxacan cooking needs. Pick up tasajo, cecina, and chorizo. They also have essential herbs, produce like chilacayota and chile de agua, imported tlayudas, pickled vegetables, Oaxacan cheese, and some prepared foods.
This street vendor in Echo Park makes blue corn quesadillas filled with traditional guisados. Go with the mushrooms, huitlacoche (corn truffle), or squash blossoms, and dress them up in the appetizing selection of colorful salsas and condiments for a pre-Hispanic snack at one of the city’s OG street vendors.
La Morenita Oaxaqueña
In the sub-enclave of Koreatown’s Little Bangladesh lies the historic center of Oaxacan cuisine, where this spot from Mexico’s Valles Centrales opened within a Third Street strip mall, joining a second wave of traditional Oaxacan restaurants. The mole coloradito shines, with Old World spice and mildly sweet New World chiles (whether as a plate or as enchiladas), as does the estofado.
Brothers Valentin and German Granja are keeping this iconic space (the original Guelaguetza) in the community with excellent Oaxacan tamales and sweet aguas frescas. There are three menu items featuring crickets, delicious molotes, and an array of molcajetes and braziers filled with various overflowing meats, seafood, melted cheese, grilled vegetables, guacamole with cactus, and salsa.
Panaderia Santo Domingo
Latino bakeries in LA tend to cater to a general Mexican consumer, along with Central Americans, but several bakeries are Oaxacan owned and bake regional pan dulce and other breads to meet the needs of LA’s Oaxacan community. You can get Oaxacan food here as well, but start with a pan de yema with hot chocolate and then look around for other regional pan dulce, like mamones, conitos, polvorones, empanadas de piña y coco, borrachitos, panqués, and casquitos.
The standard bearer of Oaxacan cuisine in America, Guelaguetza is a James Beard American Classic destination for mezcal, mole, and crickets. It’s the only Oaxacan restaurant in the U.S. modeled after the greats in Oaxaca City like La Teca, La Biznaga, and Los Danzantes. There’s also especially fragrant estofado, a mole accented with green olives and hints of fresh herbs — tlayudas, and memelas topped with a smear of asiento (unrefined lard) and silky, refried black beans.
Ignacio and Felipe Santiago, who both speak Spanish as a second language (they grew up speaking Zapotec in their hometown of San Felipe Guila in the Tlacolula district), made their way as cooks in the U.S. in a variety of styles of cooking, but it was Lebanese cuisine that intrigued them the most. Their first restaurant is a culinary mash-up, where cool mezze meets hot salsa, the tabbouleh has cactus and jalapenos, and chicken shawarma tacos — and Mexiterranean wraps — are given their due respect as burritos.
One of America’s most successful Oaxacan restaurant owners has placed a huge cricket statue in front of this eatery. Its original taco de la abuela is a Oaxacalifornia classic consisting of tasajo, cecina or chorizo, and other fixings rolled into a tortilla blanda, cut in half. Here, regional bites like enmoladas, rolled tortillas covered in mole, ring true with their mostly Oaxacan customers.
Las 7 Regiones De Oaxaca
As part of the first wave of Oaxacan restaurant in LA, this Pico-Union institution is one of the best overall Oaxacan restaurants for its well-executed moles, sweet and savory chile relleno, emapandas filled with mole amarillo, and its parrillada oaxaqueña, an assorted grill of meats and sides served on a tabletop brazier that’s a less smoky Oaxacalifornia tribute to the carnes asadas vendors in the historic Tlacolula market.
Leo's Tacos Truck
Unbeknownst to many, Leo’s and its four trucks scattered around town are owned and operated by Oaxacans. Start with four tacos de al pastor, deftly carved from the well-manicured spinning top of fire-roasted and marinated pork, or go big and get the alambre hawaiana, a hash of al pastor, pineapple, Oaxaca cheese, ham, peppers, onions, and bacon served with a stack of corn tortillas for making your own tacos.
Tlacolula Panadería Y Carnicería
The red chilaquiles with tender house-made cecina or tasajo are especially delicious at this small butcher shop, bakery, and restaurant. You can pick up top-quality cecina, tasajo, chorizo and other meats, baked goods, and solid Oaxacan fare, including excellent tlayudas, at this Mid-City strip mall spot.
Norma Garcia and Florentino Hernández opened their West LA restaurant on a sleepy stretch of Santa Monica Boulevard that remains unchanged by the restaurant trends of the last decade. As at many Oaxacan restaurants, there’s Oaxacalifornia fare — burritos, numerous dishes served with beans and rice, and parrilladas that have seafood and chicken — and the moles are impressive, too.
El Valle Oaxaqueno
There are many small Oaxacan minimarkets in LA, but only four midsize markets: There’s La Mayordomia and three outposts of the El Valle Oaxaqueño chainlet: a supermarket, restaurant, and bakery overflowing with Oaxacan pan dulce. During the holidays there are stacks of boxes of rosca de reyes (king’s bread).
Monte Alban Restaurante
Tucked into a West LA strip mall, no other Oaxacan restaurant, after Guelaguetza, can claim to have made such an impression on the hearts, minds, and bellies of Angelenos. That might mean mole coloradito poured onto a square dinner plate with a side of white rice set in a Zapotec pyramid mold, a party platter of assorted Oaxacan antojitos, or bubbling molcajetes chock full of Oaxacan meats, quesillo, and vegetables.
Oaxaca on Wheels
You’ll see this truck at Rams games, food events, and out catering private parties, introducing Oaxacan cuisine to a broader audience. Cruz and his family come from San Pablo Huixtepec in the Valles Centrales region — they started doing some more provincial dishes when they were regularly parked on Santa Monica Boulevard in West LA, serving an ostensibly Oaxacan clientele.
Maria Ramos, a third-generation barbacoa master with strong roots in the world-famous Tlacolula market, is one of the most important traditional Mexican cooks in Los Angeles. On weekends, Ramos prepares barbacoa enchilada, or Oaxacan goat barbecue, chock full of spices and oils from the roasted goat, to eat with hand-pressed tortillas blandas. The house-made tasajo, cecina, and chorizo are best here, so this is your spot for tlayudas and spicy plates of chilaquiles with a side of one of its tender meats.
Tacos Tamix Taco Truck
One of Leo’s main competitors (along with the Chilango-owned Los Güichos) is another Oaxacan, Rolando Martinez, who also brings in veteran taqueros from Oaxaca to tend to his al pastor spit. Tacos de al pastor and alambres (a hash of al pastor, vegetables, cheese, and other ingredients) are the best items.
LA is fortunate to have so many Oaxacan mini-markets, and this newly-opened second location of West LA’s carniceria run by a family from Tlacolula is one of the city’s best. Buy fresh Oaxacan herbs, chile de agua, and Oaxacan cheeses and order some memelas (Oaxacan antojitos) and Oaxacan aguas frescas while you shop. La Flama has a great selection of tlayudas, available in blue, yellow and white corn. Go on a weekend and find a tejate vendor on the patio. Slowly sip this cool, chalky pre-Hispanic beverage made with cacao and masa, or try the coconut and masa version.
Oaxacalifornia Juice Bar & Ice
Opened in 2003 in Mercado La Paloma, this juice, torta (Mexican sandwich), ice cream, and antojito stand is connected to a family-run stand in Mercado de Tlacolula that specializes in piedrazos (“little stones” or hard bread covered in pickled fruits or vegetables). When the proprietors can get their hands on the special bread, you can order piedrazos just a stone’s throw away from DTLA, as well as Oaxacan ice cream.
Alfonso “Poncho” Martínez de Santo Domingo Albarradas’s “viernes de tlayuda,” or tlayuda Friday, is ushering in new era of Oaxacan street food with artisanal blue corn and yellow corn tlayudas as good as you’ll find in Oaxaca City. His smoky tortillas are smeared with asiento and black beans, Oaxacan cheese, and your choice of tasajo, chorizo, and an unconventional but delicious artisanal blood sausage.
Boasting five handmade moles — mole negro, mole coloradito, mole amarillo, and mole verde — the Martinez family went all in on their first brick-and-mortar, even offering vegan mole, and vegan tlayudas. With decades of restaurant experience, the Martinezes are staying close to their San Marcos Tlapazola roots, while including seafood dishes like pescado zapoteco, inspired by Oaxaca’s Pacific coast, tasajo (beef jerky) fajitas, queso fundido, and a spicy ceviche made with Oaxacan chile de agua.
El Sazon Oaxaqueno
For 23 years, one of LA’s oldest Oaxacan restaurants has adapted to the Mar Vista crowd with a mix of Valles Centrales dishes. Highlights include mole amarillo, entomatadas with tasajo, and goat barbacoa, plus a nice selection of Oaxacan pan dulce to go along with popular Mexican-American dishes. There’s a section dedicated to tacos, tostadas, and burritos. One burrito is drowned in a light, fruity mole rojo that’s been a big hit on the westside for decades.
Valles Centrales chefs Juan Hernandez and Pedro Aquino, who come from the neighboring towns of San Bartolomé Quialana and San Marcos Tlapazola in the Tlacolula District, have been wowing Angeleos with modern Oaxacalifornia bites at their Venice popup. The pair of zapoteco chefs who bonded while cooking at Gjelina use marinated pork collar on their tlayuda dressed with heirloom tomato wedges. The chile relleno is stuffed with fish tinga sweetened with raisins. The pork belly, barbacoa, and pollo adobado tacos reflect LA’s recent modern taco trends. This very well could be the future of Oaxacalifornia.
This is the best of Zeferino Garcia’s markets, located in Downtown LA, where you can shop for tlayudas, Oaxacan herbs and chiles, crickets, Oaxacan cheese, cured meats, and tortillas blandas, and have your toasted mole ingredients or chocolate recipe machine ground on the premises.
Tlayudiza El Anafre
The new generation of young Oaxacan restaurateurs are embracing their Oaxacalifornia culture at this colorful Whittier destination for giant margaritas topped with upside-down bottles of beer, tlayudas, and overflowing parrilladas, or mixed grills. There are traditional moles, tamales, and other dishes from the Valles Centrales. But goat barbacoa combo plates, and wet burritos drowned in mole negro are delicious expressions of Oaxacalifornia, washed down with a tequila sunrise or a Oaxacan agua de chilacoyota.
Rocio's Mexican Kitchen
La Diosa de Los Moles, or goddess of moles, chef Rocio Camacho is an institution in LA, known for her Oaxacan, national Mexican, and other creative takes on Mexico’s popular pre-Hispanic celebration dish. There are treats from her hometown of Huajuapan de León in the Mixteca region, such as chileajo, a guisado made with a blend of toasted chiles, garlic, and spices, and her mom’s flawless mole negro, sublime in its texture and its many distinguishable ingredients — a feat to accomplish.
Madre! Oaxacan Restaurant and Mezcaleria
In addition to having 500 mezcales on the back bar at his Torrance location, and nearly that many at the Fairfax branch, indigenous Oaxacan restaurateur Ivan Vásquez is one of the most knowledgeable authorities on mezcal. Order the toothsome mole palenquero, with a touch of sweet from fruit used in the distillation of pechuga (turkey breast) mezcal; tangy estofado, a mole in the Valles Centrales; or family sized mole coloradito with pork ribs. Look for Vásquez, and ask for a vertical mezcal flight, or lesser known mezcales from the states of Puebla, Guerrero, and even Jalisco.