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Yatzeche Taqueria Oaxaqueña Seaside (Monterey Area)

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Hidden on Palm Ave (1 block west of Broadway) close to Del Monte, this taqueria serves assertively flavored food. The family hails from Santa Ines in the Yatzeche region of Oaxaca and prepares many wonderful dishes in the Oaxacan tradition. And this is a family restuarant; one can watch what would seem to be auntie and grandma working in the open kitchen. This no-holds-barred food is not for the faint of heart or timid of tongue.

The thin tortilla chips that greet you are served with a powerful deep red salsa speckled with chile seeds. Agua frescas (I preferred the jamaica to the horchata) and real Mexican soft drinks – yes, real Mexican Coke or 7 Up as well as Mexican sodas – are available. Of course there is beer and for us winos, Yatzeche carries Heller Carmel Valley Cachagua Cab by the bottle (Only on the Monterey Peninsula would a hole-in-the-wall Oaxacan taqueria carry an excellent regional cabernet sauvignon).

While it is open from 7 AM to 9 PM every day, both of my visits were at lunch time. One can order burritos, tortas, empanadas (here thick corn tortillas folded over a filling), quesadillas, tacos or tostadas ala carte with a variety of meat choices. However for the most part, my dining companions and I focused on the dinner plates.

Two different moles are offered with a choice of meats, and both are nearly black in color and full of mole flavor. The enchiladas Santa Ines are a mound of soft corn tortillas covered in a powerful dark red guajillo and chileancho sauce topped with crumbles of queso fresco. With this dish, one’s choice of meat is served beside the tortilla mound on top of the same sauce. Not like any enchiladas I've ever eaten elsewhere. The chile relleno (I ordered the chicken version) is a very spicy pasilla or agua chile with ample eggy breading, stuffed with chicken and chopped fresh tomato. Unique among the chile rellenos of my acquaintance, the chile itself dominated the dish, its heat inflaming every bite with fire. The carne asada, with nicely marinated steak cut into bite-sized pieces, was probably the dish most like standard Mexican food. My favorite entrée had to be the costilla de puerco con nopales en salsa roja, a mixture of tasty country pork ribs and a lot of sliced tangy, slightly sour cactus in another outstanding red sauce.

Most of the entrees came with whole frijoles – not refritos – and very tasty rice. The tortillas here are all white corn, handmade and homemade, varying in thickness depending on their use.

If you’re looking for same-ol’, same-ol’ Mexican food, this is not the place to go. If you are looking to expand your horizons and taste some unusual and unusually spicy (and I should stress spicy in both senses, fiery and full of flavor) dishes, you need to try Yatzeche.

ed

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  1. Great post ed, and what a find. Can't wait to get back over there and try this place. Did you happen to notice if they have chapulines?

    1 Reply
    1. re: PolarBear

      Don't recall seeing them, but I left my menu back in Monterey (could that be a song?). Wouldn't hurt to ask them. Who knows what they might be able to do off menu for someone who knew the cuisine.

      ed

    2. Yes! I've heard rumors of a good Oaxacan place in Seaside, but now I have the details!

      Just in time for Friday night, when we will be down there and staying nearby (our Monterey choices are sold out....). Thanks!

      (and Ed, if you are still in town and want to do an informal Chowdown with us, email me back off line...)

      S

      5 Replies
      1. re: susancinsf

        I have another couple of California posts I will probably write, but I am back in the desert. Otherwise, it would have been great. Imho Passionfish is still on their game.

        ed

        1. re: Phoo D

          no surprise there.. :-) looks like I may be able to hit both PF and Yatzeche in this short trip! I'll ask si hay chapulines and report back....

          1. re: susancinsf

            Sigh....well, first our friends called and asked us to meet them at Passionfish Friday night, so how could we say no to that...and yes, on their game, and they have wild salmon on the menu right now. They also had what I would call the Passionfish version of albondigas (lamb meatball soup) as a special, so of course I had to order that, and it was delicious!

            In any case, we had great plans to go to Yatzeche Saturday late afternoon after diving, but I had forgotten to print out this thread, and there was no wireless at our hotel..grhh...I was pretty sure the name started with a 'Y' but it isn't listed in the phone book (at least the copy in our hotel room; there are no Mexican places that start with the letter Y listed)...even went so far as to call sister JanetofReno to ask her to look it up, while sitting on the dive boat,no less, but alas, she was in transit on a business trip to Charlotte, and couldn't find a working internet connection in the PHX airport...(Shades of the 'You know you are a Chowhound when' post...note to self: need to program more Chowhounds into my cell phone....)

            so bottom line: hubby was tired from the sea and sun and bottom time and not in a mood to explore, (he claims I have taken him on too many goose chases in the past in search of the mythical Oaxacan restaurant in Seaside :-)) so we settled for a Guiness and bowl of clam chowder at the London Bridge Pub, (and there is nothing wrong with that, either, especially eaten/drinken at the outside tables on a nice day), then came home and ordered take out from our local favorite Lotus Garden...

            But now it is written on a note in my wallet, with location, and it is on the list for the next dive trip!

            1. re: susancinsf

              Too bad. It is an interesting place though I wouldn't consider it earth-shattering. You probably wouldn't have found it. I discovered it this year because I was looking for its predecessor, which I knew was in that location. But how long some restaurant has occupied that space, I have no idea. I had never noticed the location before last year, and I had lived in Seaside for a while.

              ed

              1. re: susancinsf

                Too bad! I was looking forward to your report!

                I mentioned in the "you know you're a chowhound when ..." thread a while back that one mark of a chowhound is how many other chowhounds they have programmed into their cell phone!

        2. 400 Palm Ave
          Seaside
          (831-393-1348)

          from Monterey, take Del Monte past the lagoons at Canyon Del Rey. 2nd block on right is Palm. according to yellowpages.com it's about 20 yards from Del Monte.