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Oaxacan menu help? (At Monte Alban's and elsewhere.)

I'd like to try some Oaxacan cuisine - have see Monte Alban's recommended. I'm wondering what your favorite menu items are there or elsewhere at L.A. or Westside Oaxacan restaurants.

Also, what options on the menu, if any, are tasty and best for someone watching their intake of carbs (no corn, little wheat, some beans OK), who also doesn't want to go way overboard on fat?

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  1. at guelaguetza (spelling wrong, I know) in WLA, I like the mole tamales - anything with mole there -- as well as the empanada with squash blossums. Friends love the goat there as well.

    1 Reply
    1. re: tigercactus

      No, the spelling is amazingly perfect. In Oaxaca, I always heard it said with the article "La Guelaguetza" and it always seems odd to me without.

    2. At Monte Alban, I love the Black Mole (although the other moles are good)- rich flavor, really what oaxacan food is about, the Tacos Enchilados - a bit more traditional us-mex, the Empanadas de Huitlachoche, and the pork dish (forget the exact name, something abodabo).

      1. As suggested above, I'd stick to the basics - mole negro ("black mole") - with chicken. This is the Oaxacan dish that has spread around the Americas, and to me, a pretty good yardstick to judge the quality of the place. I've actually had bad luck ordering other dishes at Guelaguetza (and a couple others) - grilled pork ribs that were totally dry and barely warm - sort of like you'd expect at a ribs, pizza and wings place (maybe an off day?). And I wouldn't make too concerted an effort to eat "healthy" at a Oaxacan place - just have a salad for another meal that day. A friend of mine ordered an entree w/ nopales at a mole place I really like and got just that - a fairly bland pile of sliced cactus.

        There are several varieties of mole sauce, but some of these may be indistinguishable with what we know as sort of pan-Mexican sauces, e.g., red mole may just resemble the red sauce of chile colorado at other Mexican restaurants. Lots of places have antojitos (appetizers) that cover a decent range of the dishes, so maybe get a couple of those for the table. And, don't forget the drinks. The fruits are more varied and exotic as you get farther down into Mexico, so you might find some good punches and things that can make the meal memorable.

        1 Reply
        1. re: cant talk...eating

          For what is worth, I think Monte Alban executes the Salmon in Black Mole better than the Chicken (its more moist & succulent).

          I think the Barbacoa Taco (Slow cooked, marinated Goat) is an absolute essential.

          The Sopa Azteca (Tortilla soup with Hoja Santa & Epazote ranges from plain good to mesmerizing).

        2. At Monte Alban, I think they have a few dishes that are very good. Their guacomole is excellent, so you can start with that. Get some queso fundido, as well -- it's a great combo. For entrees, I think their clayudas, tortas, and mole dishes are excellent. They have a couple dishes with huitlacoche that are particularly good. I have also had their ceviche and I generally liked it, though it was not the best I've had in LA or the best thing I've eaten there. I have seen other people eat the daily special of seafood in a molcajete and it looks outstanding.

          2 Replies
          1. re: glutton

            I forgot one thing... the tazajo (thinly sliced beef) is fantastic.

            1. re: glutton

              Yes. I like their beef dishes over their Mole actually.

              For Mole, I like the Mole Negro Chicken Tamale @ Gueleguetza...great stuff

          2. We really liked our dinner at Monte Alban. The Nopalitos were SUPER fresh and the Enfrijolada was EXCELLENT...


            1. I loved my gigantic mole negro (chicken?) tamale at Monte Alban, and SO enjoyed goat stew. We haven't been back to try more, so we can't say those are the best things on the menu. But hopefully we'll be back soon.

              1. El Texate has a dish called higadito, which I assume is Oaxacan because ET is a Oaxacan place.

                It's a chicken soup dish with a fluffy scrambled egg in it. It is sort of like matzoh ball soup, but with an egg concoction instead of a matzoh ball. Very tasty, spicier IIRC than a deli chicken soup. Seems low carb to me (and I'm on a carb fast at the moment, too.)

                I think I like ET more than others on the board, but I like it a lot. Been going there since it opened and am almost a regular.

                As a carb watcher, I'd personally avoid moles. Maybe I'm wrong, but I'd think that mole is sweetened, sort of like barbecue sauce.

                Other dishes I like at ET -- not necessarily low-carb -- are the chicken and vegetarian burritos, the tortas and many of the appetizers, whose names are escaping me. ET also pours Chinaco Anejo -- which is worth a trip no matter what.

                1 Reply
                1. re: PaulF

                  What;s up with El Texate, though? I like it, but it always seems empty. I work in the area, and went there a couple times for lunch. I was always pretty much the only diner in the place. I haven't really been back since one time I went there by myself and got hit up by an obnoxious drunk who came over to my table from the bar. To their credit, the staff fended him off, but it just doesn't feel comfortable sitting in that place by myself - and I am normally a very practiced solo diner.

                  Do they do better business at night and on weekends? Because during the week they are basically dead.

                2. Can someone compare Monte Alban and Juquila's? I ate at the latter recently and was underwhelmed (chicken mole tamale and chorizo tlayudas). I was thinking of trying Monte Alban and I'm trying to decide if my experience was a function of Juquila's or a more general aversion to Oaxacan food...

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: a_and_w

                    I feel Monte Alban gets it right every time while Juquila is okay. Monte Alban's tastes fresh and their sauces seem more complex. Their tortilla soup (though not a low-carb option as requested by the OP) is excellent. I would also recommend the cesina, whether with rice, over the enfrijoladas or chilaquiles, or in the torta. Very flavorful and a tiny bit spicy. I've been going there for years and have enjoyed every meal.

                    1. re: Skorgirl

                      Okay, finally tried Monte Alban last night. The mole negro rocked my world! I'm no expert in oaxacan food, but this was one of the tastiest moles I've ever tried. Is the red mole similarly complex and tasty? I literally licked my take-out container clean...

                  2. I also like the Koreatown G'guetzas. One is on olympic, a bit fancier, and the original is on 8th street.

                    1. At Monte Alban, check out the barbacoa -- nice piece of non-gamy goat in a terrific dense red broth. At lunchtime, they serve all of their non-fish entree items (except for the "Oaxacan volcano) for $6.95, a terrific deal.

                      1. I've lived in Oaxaca for over three years and Monte Alban is hands down, the best! Bite after bite brought back all the good memories of eating in Oaxaca.

                        1. Monte Alban's sopa de pollo with rice and chopped onions, chiles, and cilantro may be even more useful for colds than my usual fallback chicken and matzo ball soup.

                          1. Juquila has a nice combination antojitos plate that will give you a good sampling of various menu items. It's a good introduction to the cuisine.