review - La Morenita Oaxaquena, new in Koreatown
Finally, an interesting looking restaurant opened on my way home from work. (Sometime I'll try My Secret Recipe too). Anyway, La Morenita Oaxaquena is a clean, homey new restaurant in the mini-mall at Third and New Hampshire, next to the dubious-looking Hawaiian barbecue place. I couldn't remember what some of the Oaxacan dishes were so I went with two I understood: chicken with mole negro for me and a chile relleno for my b.f. They were ready in a flash and the considerate manager carefully packaged them up so I wouldn't flood my new car with black mole. The chicken mole was a smallish portion for $7.50, with rice and tortillas. The mole wasn't the most complex or thick I've ever had, but it was ok. I'm sure chile rellenos aren't necessarily Oaxacan specialties but it was great -- stuffed full of chicken in a delicate batter and swimming in a super spicy picadillo sauce. It came with black beans, rice and salad ($7.00).
Despite the lackluster mole, I'm sure I'll be back to try their many other Oaxacan dishes or the reasonably-priced breakfasts with chilequiles, chorizo, etc. No alcohol, but they do take credit cards and they serve all kinds of aguas including Horchata de Arroz con Tuna y Nuez!.
La Morenita Oaxaquena
2550 W. 3rd St.
I finally had a chance to try this place I've been passing for a while. I really liked my mole negro! They also have a rojo which I'll have next. I actually found it rich and fairly complex - definitely several notches above run-of-mill (i.e., from a bottle) mole. The chicken was also very tender and fresh (sometimes it can be dried out). Mine was also on the table quickly. Though unassuming from the outside, the inside is freshly painted and comfortable-feeling (not the glaring flourescent light in some of the restaurants in this area), so would be ok for dinner w/ less-adventurous friends. The inevitable TV above the door was a negative. The dish was a buck more than in August - $8.50 - but still totally worth it. Served, traditionally for here at least, with rice and tortillas only, but the tortillas were fresh and didn't become instantly stale like a lot of the packaged-microwaved ones.
One plus - they have this great, refreshing gelato-like ice ("nieves"), and the flavors vary. I had "tuna" (= prickly-pear cactus fruit) which was dark crimson and subtle, not overly sweet. $2 bucks for a very generous scoop (which I ate the whole (hot!) drive home.
[Next time, I'll save room for the Hawaiian place next door (definitely dubious! - appears to be a Panda Xpress meets Yoshinoya) or the unventilated Korean lunch counter in the same strip mall. Or, maybe not.]
re: cant talk...eating
I'm bumping this post because no one's written about La Morentia Oaxaquena recently, even though the LA Times had a really positive write-up in July.
For lunch today, I had a great tlayuda with cecina ($7.50) and an asada and chorizo taco for $1.50 each--a bargain. Next time I will try the mole. The menu has some great mistranslations, such as "bone tortilla on rolls" for burrito. They also have 4 kinds of tamales and empanadas with huitlacoche.
As Chowpatty & Can't Talk described, the room is homey and cheerful. Fair warning: the restaurant currently has a "C" rating, which might explain why the dining room was pretty empty at lunch. But give it a try! They're open from 10am-10pm daily.