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Chiles Rellenos, Horchata, and More: These Are the Oaxacan Platillos That Biden and Harris Ate in L.A.

1:39 PM PST on January 20, 2021

    [dropcap size=big]T[/dropcap]he long road to the presidency (and vice presidency) is paved with tlayudas, mole, and chiles rellenos. There is only one Mexican restaurant in Los Angeles that both Joe Biden and Kamala Harris feasted on before arriving at the White House: Guelaguetza.   

    During their respective campaign tours before the California primary elections last year, both offices reached out to the Lopez family to try food authentic to both Los Angeles and Oaxaca. The James Beard Award-winning restaurant that has been a bonafide eating destination in Koreatown and a valuable resource for L.A.’s OaxaCalifornia community since 1994 obliged.

    “Our doors are always open to all,” Guelaguetza’s co-owner Fernando Lopez tells L.A. Taco when asked how it all happened. “We welcomed them with open arms.” 

    When it came time to order food for the table, Lopez shares that both parties insisted on being served “something [the Lopez] family might order.” That was the cue for the kitchen to send out all the family-style favorites that Guelaguetza is celebrated for: their “Festival de Moles’ sampler, quesillo fundido with their house-made Oaxacan-style chorizo, a “Botana Oaxaqueña” platter with cecina (adobo-rubbed thin-cut pork), tasajo (salted thin-cut beef), vegetarian tlayudas, and Oaxacan-style chiles rellenos that are stuffed with a sweet shredded chicken picadillo instead of cheese. 

    A tlayuda vegetariana at Guelaguetza.

    All washed down with Guelaguetza’s famous naturally pink horchata, made from toasted rice powder, crimson-colored cactus fruit syrup, chopped pecans, and ripe cantaloupe melon bits. 

    “We remember President Biden not getting enough of our chips and mole, and really getting in there to sample all the flavors on the table, especially the Botana Oaxaqueña and our Tlayudas,” Lopez says.  He shares that Harris enjoyed Guelaguetza’s food so much, she ordered some take-out for the rest of her staff.  “They got to try what Oaxaca in L.A. is all about.

    Bricia Lopez, Fernando’s sister and other co-owner of the restaurant along with their other sibling Paulina Lopez, was particularly grateful that both candidates cared so much about culture and representation early on.

    “It was refreshing. As a majority-women-owned restaurant, today’s inauguration meant to so much to me and our daughters to see us represented in the White House,” Bricia tells L.A. Taco. She is a board member of Regarding Her Food, a charitable organization for women-owned restaurants in Los Angeles, created by women who own restaurants in Los Angeles.

    “It’s a great day for little Black and Brown girls everywhere.”

    Fernando shares that both the President and Vice President of the United States also took home a copy of the restaurant’s cookbook, “Oaxaca: Home Cooking From the Heart of Mexico.”

    “We hope to see our dishes in both their homes and the White House soon.”

    Disclosure: Javier Cabral is the co-author of “Oaxaca: Home Cooking From the Heart of Mexico.”

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