Guelaguetza overshadows the scene of Oaxacan restaurants, but there are a ton of smaller Oaxacan restaurants out there–some even better.
After a meal at the oft-recommended El Fortin (including OC Weekly’s Gustavo Arellano, who says Guelaguetza is nowhere near as good), adamclyde says he only regrets that he didn’t have a big enough stomach to try everything.
Mole negro is awesome: thick, complex and flavorful. Mole coloradito: great rich sauce with just the right level of piquancy. The version with pork is beautifully minimalist, three large chunks of tender pork in mole with white rice on the side. Quesadilla is really good, and huge, filled with Oaxacan cheese. The botana, a mixed plate, is nothing fancy but includes tasajo (a kind of beef jerky) with a deep smoky flavor. The only thing that falls a teensy bit short is the tamal oaxaqueno, whose masa is crumbly rather than creamy, but still has great flavor (mole negro). No liquor license.
Antequera de Oaxaca is a little family-run place with all the usual moles, cecina, and Oaxacan specialties, but the real prize, says sku, are the botana plates including appetizers such as memelas, cheese, chicharron, chorizo, and guacamole. They also have some interesting beverages, like squash-pumpkin seed, and a good hot chocolate. No liquor license.
Juquila is a great choice for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, says estnyboer. The mole negro is particularly tasty, and the coloradito is also darned good.
El Sazon Oaxaqueno is a board favorite. So is the epic taco truck La Oaxaquena, where Dommy loves the memelas much more than Guelaguetza’s. Still, she gives Guela points for their delicious horchata.
Guelaguetza Restaurant [Koreatown]
3014 W. Olympic Blvd., Normandie, Los Angeles
Guelaguetza Palms Restaurant [Culver City-ish]
11127 Palms Blvd, Sepulveda, Los Angeles
El Fortin 2 [North OC]
10444 Dale Ave., Stanton
El Fortin 3 [Inland of LA]
5368 Riverside Dr., Chino
Antequera de Oaxaca [Hollywood]
5200 Melrose Ave, Wilton, Los Angeles
Juquila Restaurant [West LA-ish]
11619 Santa Monica Blvd, between Federal and Barry, Los Angeles
El Sazon Oaxacqueno [Beaches]
12131 Washington Place, Los Angeles
La Oaxaquena Taco Truck [Beaches]
on Lincoln Blvd at Flower, south of Rose, Venice