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Aug 12, 2006 12:55 AM

Juquila, chow-worthy

Juquila is that kind of neighborhood find that you take your friends to when you want to hang out, and be fed well without breaking the bank. Not exactly the kind of place you expect to find at Santa Monica Blvd. and Federal, this is a working-class restaurant with prices to match.
For appsetizers, we sampled a couple of ala carte dishes. The style for chiles rellenos here is NOT to have the thick layer of egg batter. The focus is on the filling. The picadillo relleno was loaded with chopped chicken, and seasoned with raisins, nuts and served in a peppery sauce with a smokey hint of chipotle. The faint of heart might prefer a milder sauce such as the one on the cheese relleno. This is not nearly so hot, but just as good. Naturally we had to order a mole tamale. Having eaten recently at Guelaquetza on 8th, I can safely say this one is good, and can compete with the best of them. But ...Guelaquetza is better. It’s a matter of individual taste. The mole sauces are both delicious and comparable.
My entree of chilaquiles and cecina was pretty good for $6.99! Although I prefer my chilaquiles on the crispy side, the cecina (thin, marinated pork steak) was tender. Another in our party happily chose the Oaxacan combination plate (12.99-ish) that was brimming with good stuff: chorizo, tazajo (thinly sliced steak) and quesillo (Oaxacan string cheese) black beans and rice.
One nice thing about this tiny place is they have a beer & wine license. I tasted my first michelada, best described as a Bloody Mary with beer. It was...different. :) I don't think I like my meal to compete with my drink.
I knew I would return when I eyed the ample breakfast menu, loaded with decently spicy dishes to light my fire first thing in the morning...along with their large paper-thin corn tortillas and a cold beer? Heaven.


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  1. i have been here a couple times. i wish i had the same experience as you. the food was really poor when i went. my boyfriend got something with chicken and received nothing but fat, small pieces of bone and gristle. they also short changed me. when you describe it it sounds amazing. i did not ever have a good experience there the two times i tried. the only reason i went back a second time is because it is so close to where i live and i hoped to god it was just a mistake.

    1. Sorry you had a bad experience there. Someone in our party was not used to Oaxacan food and she just ordered tacos, and really liked them.
      Where do you prefer to go for Mexican food?

      1. i have to second sassille here on juquila. it's a refreshing homey alternative to the slew of mexican restaurants found in the area that cater to more conventional tastes. my friend and i used to eat there once a month back in college. total hole in the wall and you'd miss it in a heartbeat especially given the more well known california roll factory and cafe 50's nearby.

        what i always enjoyed was their mole dishes, ordering the black-brown "chocolate" sauce smothering a couple pieces of soft, slightly over-stewed chicken. the stewed pork (or was it lamb?) soup was very soul food-ish. i also remember a tostada of sorts with oaxacan cheese and black beans that was fantastic. and as sassille mentioned, being able to wash it all down with a negro modela is perfect.

        it's not the place that will wow you, but it's a great place to pop in and have some good alternative mexican chow for cheap.

        1. I used to eat there in the late 90's when I was at UCLA. As someone married to a Oaxacan that has spent a lot of time in Oax, I can tell you it's as authentic average Oaxacan food. Nothing fancy, but better than most of the crap I get up here in SF.

          I lived 3 blocks away, and I used to eat there all the time. Try the tlayudas (big quesadillas with thick handmade tortillas). Also, I remember they made a decent mole negro.