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Jun 9, 2011 09:50 PM

La Oaxaqueña: Worst Mexican Food in the Mission

After reading a few posts about the recent cricket shut down at La Oaxaqueña, I decided to give the place a go for dinner. Expecting to see huge lines in front, I was surprised to see that the place had open tables around eight at night. I decided to bite the bullet and try it.

After ordering, we waited for our food. And waited. And waited. And waited. And waited. The place was not particularly busy, especially not in comparison to a few places up the block like Taqueria Cancún, where it seems like they pump out hundreds of orders a minute.

Not La Oaxaqueña. It took a full fifty eight minutes between paying for our food and receiving it at the table. No apologies from the owner, no explanation, no food to soothe us over. Nothing.

The food itself was bland, disappointing, and over-salty. I ordered a ttlayuda, which is essentially an giant tortilla. And by giant, I mean it — it would easily serve two. I got it with the chipotle chicken. The ttlayuda was horrifically bland. The dough they used had no flavor, and any taste there was was achieved with salt. Massive quantities of salt. A Dead Sea of salt.

My dining partner had three papusas, which were doughy and had almost no filling. The overriding taste was of starch and nothing else.

And finally, an hour and fifteen minutes after paying for our food, we left. La Oaxaqueña will always be remembered by us as the longest Mexican meal we've ever had. And that is not a good thing.

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  1. too bad about the tlyaludas. not surprising about the papusas, as there's definitely a dropoff in quality there on the non oaxacan items

    1. The banana leaf tamales are the thing to get here. Life-changing.

      Why on earth would you order pupusas at a Oaxacan restaurant? I don't care if they're on the menu, if Chowhound had a Ten Commandments, "thou shalt order the regional specialities and generally nothing else" would be in the top three or four.

      3 Replies
      1. re: bigwheel042

        I totally agree with bigwheel042. This is a place to order the mole, which the owner brings in from the source at the market in Oaxaca -- that is as authentic and delicious as you can get. And you also can get real Oaxacan chocolate from that incredible market. There is no better hot chocolate in Mexico or anywhere!

        1. re: Thomas Nash

          For pupusas, I'll continue to recommend the ones at New Spot in Dogpatch. Whatever they do with corn, it's light and fluffy versus tasty but often leaden elsewhere.

          The New Spot
          632 20th St, San Francisco, CA 94107

          1. re: Thomas Nash

            >This is a place to order the mole, which the owner brings in from the source at the market in Oaxaca -- that is as authentic and delicious as you can get.<

            I had their banana leaf chicken mole tamal a few months ago. I loved the flavor of the masa, and there was a lot of chicken inside, but the "mole" was almost missing in action. A significant part of the chicken had no mole sauce on it at all, and where the mole was present it was so sparse and mildly flavored it didn't add much at all to the tamal.

        2. Wow, that does sound disappointing. La Oaxaqueña is one of my favorite restaurants in the bay area and I take a lot of my out-of-town guests there. Just a couple things that might have made your visit more enjoyable (not much consolation now, I realize):

          1. If you come in and just sit down at a table, they will take your order like it's a sit-down restaurant and you don't have to pay until you've finished your food. I think of them as more of a sit-down place than a taqueria, though they do have a taco stand outside some nights. At least then it doesn't feel like they took your money and then waited an hour to serve you.
          2. The wait for your food can be pretty long (I've waited 40 minutes some nights), so order some guacamole while you wait. It's pretty tasty, it comes out right away, and you get a HUGE bowl--sometimes it seems like they've served me more than $6 worth of avocados in one order.
          3. As bigwheel said, the banana leaf tamales with mole are the thing to get. They are seriously delicious, and gigantic given that they cost less than $5. The tacos, tortas, and burritos can be a little hit-or-miss depending on which meat you get.

          Anyway, it sounds like you were rightfully a little put off by the experience, especially if you were expecting a quick bite like you'd get at Cancun or Farolito. But if you're ever in the mood for a tamale and you don't mind waiting a little while you munch on some guacamole, maybe you can give it another shot!

          2 Replies
          1. re: tripit

            Last time we went the only thing that was decent was the pupusas -- the tlayuda was particularly bad and leathery. Longish wait though not as bad as the OP. Preferred the non-banana leaf tamal on two previous visits, FWIW... seems like they are having consistency as well as service issues.

            1. re: tripit

              They actually brought out some guacamole as we were finishing the meal. I'd completely forgotten until you mentioned this. It was freezing cold, like it had just come out of the fridge. Odd, because it was served in a mortar and pestle thing as though it'd just been ground up.