Los Angeles’s Oaxacan restaurants offer some of the best regional Mexican food 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 an in-depth exploration of the city’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
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 visiting locations 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, finely charred, lightly sweet pork carved in nice chunks from the vertical spit.
Rincon Oaxaqueño Restaurant
With two restaurants 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 (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.
Claudia and Abel Pacheco serve something for everyone from their colorful truck. Offerings range from sweet crepes and paletas to Oaxacan antojitos like tlayudas and memelas to their signature, high-quality aguas frescas. Aguas de jamaica, Oaxaca horchata, and maracuya have concentrated flavors and are served without ice to maintain their integrity. The pair even offers Thai iced tea in a nod to nearby Thai Town. The truck also is the best place in Hollywood for tacos de birria, and birriamen. The latter is a family recipe for beef barbacoa from La Chinantla, which is a more robust version of the popular stew.
Alejandra’s Quesadilla Cart
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.
During the week Panchita Montellano serves well-made soups and delicious guisos like barbacoa de pollo, salsa de huevo (omelets in red salsa), and patitas en salsa verde (trotters in green salsa) with rice and beans. For a taste of Sierra Norte, stop by on weekends for caldo de costillas (beef-rib soup) eaten with tamales de frijol and pozontle, a hand-beaten cacao-based drink from the owner’s native town of Yalalag. Or consider the house specialty, top-notch tlayudas with traditional meats like tasajo, cecina, or chorizo, plus artisanal moronga (blood sausage) from Poncho’s Tlayudas.
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, as well as delicious molotes and an array of molcajetes and braziers filled with various overflowing meats, seafood, melted cheese, grilled vegetables, guacamole with cactus, and salsa.
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 country modeled after the greats in Oaxaca City like La Teca, La Biznaga, and Los Danzantes. The menu also offers 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 — as well as Mexiterranean wraps — are given their due respect as burritos.
El Chapulín Restaurante - Expresión Oaxaqueña
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 that’s cut in half. Here, regional bites like enmoladas, rolled tortillas covered in mole, ring true with the restaurant’s 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 Oaxaqueño
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
No other Oaxacan restaurant, after Guelaguetza, can claim to have made such an impression on the hearts, minds, and bellies of Angelenos than this spot tucked into a West LA strip mall. Dishes might include 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.
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.
On Sundays in her Mid-City backyard, Doña Hortensia “Tenchita” Melchor, a traditional zapoteca cook from Tlacolula, Oaxaca, serves higaditos, a ball of beaten eggs, shredded chicken, onions, and tomatoes cooked in stock and seasoned with a tangy salsa. She also makes taquitos bathed in sweet mole coloradito, large empanadas filled with mole amarillo, and well-seasoned molotes, masa fritters packed with chorizo and potatoes. Ask about specials, which can include various moles like segueza (mole of broken corn), chichilo, or mole verde, not to mention soulful Oaxacan-style enchiladas.
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.
Los Angeles is fortunate to have so many Oaxacan mini-markets, and the 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, as well as Oaxacan ice cream, just a stone’s throw away from DTLA.
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 — including 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.
Cenaduría Oaxaqueña Donají
Zapoteco aerospace mechanic Efrain Toledo works on Teslas and rockets — and also happens to make the best traditional Valles-style tlayudas in greater Los Angeles. Start with a pair of whopping molotes (masa fritters) coated with black bean puree, and dressed with guacamole, and crumbled cheese, or memelas spread with asientos and beans. Tlayudas are slathered in asientos, black beans, a covering of quesillo, and shredded cabbage, then folded and grilled over mesquite. They’re served in a shallow basket with a choice of tasajo, cecina, or chorizo, plus add-ons pipicha, and papalo, in this Riverside backyard (making it a genuine Oaxacan cenaduría).
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.