Guelaguetza or Moles la Tia - which is best to take a Mole newbie
I haven't been to Guelaguetza in a number of years as I usually go to Monte Alban for my Oaxacan/mole fix as I find it tasty and it is located close to me. I have heard good things about Moles La Tia.
Later this week I am taking some friends who have never had moles/Oaxacan food. Which would you pick of Guelaguetza or Moles La Tia? (and if Guelaguetza, which location?)
Thanks in advance for your help hounds!
Just a word of advice to anyone reading this thread in 2013-- know what to order before you go to Guelaguetza.
I tried Gueleguetza in my pre-Chowhound days (ca. late 1990s) and was so disappointed that it's left a bad taste ever since. I understand this may be unfair characterization based on youthful ignorance, so please take that into account while reading this.
I ordered the chicken breast with black mole, which was just this terribly prepared, dry and stringy overcooked chicken breast, with an overly sweet mole that covered the huge, round plate like an oil slick. The scoop of rice did nothing to help this dish out. (This was the large restaurant on Olympic.) After getting through about 1/3 of the chicken, I just couldn't deal with it anymore. It is one of those rare foods that actually annoyed me as I was in the process of eating it. (To this day, the only time I ever eat chicken breast is when I make it myself, where I know I can cook it to a proper 160F).
Since that time, my knowledge of Oaxacan food evolved (somewhat). I did eventually make it to the 8th street location and ordered more intelligently... my first taste of huitlacoche was there. But for some reason, any time I hear Guelaguetza I think of that dry, chewy bird drowning in an oil slick.
My problem, I know. I think I need to force myself to go back in ordered to reinvent my memory of the place.
Thanks to all your responses we had a tasty meal with enough food for a small army. We got the festival of moles, plus added verde mole as that is my favorite mole at Monte Alban. We also got tamales de mole, tacos de barbacoa, and the clayuda (without the chorizo). The tamales were good but so filling.
At 1:45 pm we were the only customers in the whole cavernous Olympic space for our late lunch. It was very tasty and the mole newbies were very pleased as they had only seen Mole Negro before.
I need to try La Tia and the new place you mentioned SGLA/Dommy.
I think I prefer getting mole dishes one by one so that the chicken can get more fused with the mole sauce. It didn't seem like the chicken absorbed the sauce/flavor in the same way when you have 5 dipping sauces to add to your chicken and tortilla.
I am a fan of Moles La Tia but I agree with some other posters that if you want to try non-mole dishes, then you should probably go elsewhere. If it's mole you want, then I think La Tia would be a good choice.
Their horchata is great as is their cucumber or melon juice. The soup is included in every meal (I've had chayote; cactus and broccoli; lentil; as well as an outstanding cream of romaine; just to name a few).
I love both Guelageutza and Moles La Tia (pre and post Rocio – Vicente (sp?), Rocio’s (former) partner, commanded the kitchen during most of my visits, Rocio only twice - I couldn’t tell the difference). You and your guests should really visit both, on separate occasions of course, as they offer notable contrast/comparisons. I wholeheartedly concur with streetgourmetla and Das Ubergeek that Guelageutza should be the first outing for mole newbies. Note that I have only been to the Wilshire/Normandie location. Its broader menu will lend itself to a much richer dining encounter for a group and the experience will provide your guests with a baseline for subsequently exploring and appreciating the more specialized regional alternatives such as the Pueblan Moles La Tia.
One sidebar consideration is that Moles La Tia serves no alcohol whatsoever. It does offer some delicious house-made jugos, the cucumber being my favorite. Guelageutza, on the other hand, offers an extensive selection of Oaxacan and other regional libations, some quite potent, such as the mescal-based garra de tigre and coctel donaji. I am not certain, but the salt rim on the donaji may contain pulverized chapulines. I do know that version served at John Sedlar’s Rivera does for sure – indeed an amusing twist for the unsuspecting newbie.
I've heard only good things about Mole La Tia from recent visitors, and will certainly be making it over soon. On the other hand, the menu Rocio is developing over at La Huasteca is still being developed.
Oh, and if you want alcohol, you will need to go to the Guelaguetza on Olympic. Maybe you can BYOB at the 8th St. location. Call there first and ask for Fernando Jr.
Just to add to the confusion, the Teenage Glutster dug up the fact that Rocio Camacho (that's "Tia" as in "Moles la Tia...") has actually moved on and taken the executive chef position at La Huasteca.
Mole de café... mole negro... mmmmm.
That said, if you want pure Oaxacan food, I'm with streetgourmetla, go to Guelaguetza, though I don't have a strong opinion about which location. And order the chapulines...
re: Das Ubergeek
Went last month, WAY post Rocio and to completely honest, that meal was BETTER than the last 2 I've had when Rocio was there... now, it might have to do with being in a larger group and we got to try a lot more different things (Like the Mancha Manteles with Pork... divine...) and the soup was as always OUTSTANDING (Not the Chayote, but a Potato, Chipotle and Chocolate...)
re: Das Ubergeek
re: Senor Popusa
You can get them as a snack or sometimes they're in empanadas. As a snack wit some tortillas and salsa is standard though, for grasshopper tacos.
Among other plates you can get the festival of moles. It comes with mole negro(black), coloradito(light red), amarillo(yellow), and estofado and boiled chicken. They are small enough so that the three of you can order other items. Clayuda de choriqueso, tamal con mole, chile relleno de picadillo, barbacoa, chalupas, grasshoppers.
I think it depends on what the group wants to nosh on. If they are fine with a Mole centered meal... then Moles La Tia for sure. IME its best done in groups (To try the Moles with different combos) and overall I like the vibe a little better...
Now, while Moles la Tia does offer other items, I've found them to be just 'meh', so if you think you might want to order other items like the ones SGLA mention, and I must add the Chile Relleno then Guelaguetza...
Hello Senor Popusa. I would take them to the Guelaguetza on 8th St. The estofado is my favorite there, and the coloradita is nice. Their flavoring tends to the sweeter side as they cater to the palates of the local Oaxacans. Pueblan moles are less sweet.
Almost all the Oaxacan places in LA I've been have at least decent moles, but I think it's better to try Oaxacan foods, not just mole. It's kind of like going to Italy and only trying the pasta.
At Guelaguetza you'll find a breadth of Oaxacan dishes: tamales of chepil(an herb) and mole, the clayuda de choriqueso(cheese and chorizo), molotes, enfrijoladas, entomatadas, the chalupas are great, agua de chile(roasted pepper with lime and onion), nopales salad, chile relleno of picadillo( chopped meat, raisins, and nuts), barbacoa roja, the hot pickled pig's feet, and something with grasshoppers if they have them.
Sure have a mole, but there'e more to Oaxacan food than mole, mole ,mole.
For pure moles, I like really like the mancha manteles at Moles La Tia. Other Oaxacan places I like are El Texate, and La Juquila.