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Three Iconic Dishes In L.A. to Eat and Celebrate Mexican Independence Day

4:08 PM PDT on September 16, 2022

Contrary to the mass annual urge to get sloshed and eat one’s weight in guacamole on Cinco de Mayo, today (Sep. 16)  is the actual holiday marking the day Mexico liberated itself from Spain’s rule in 1810. 

The excitement is electric if you happen to be anywhere in Mexico during this historic day, with people celebrating all through the night before and likely still up. At midnight, the grito commemorating Father Miguel Hidalgo's decry is televised from the country’s capital and aired across the country, where government figures shout declarations of freedom and national pride from their respective seats of power

In Los Angeles, we get a parade in East L.A. the weekend following El Grito, an annual gathering at City Hall. Luckily for all of us, we live in the city that is home to the second largest Mexican population outside of Mexico City, so there is absolutely no shortage of dishes to celebrate with throughout this weekend. 

Here are three dishes to eat around town that are as rich in Mexican cultural history as they are delicious to eat. 

Chiles en Nogada

La Casita Mexicana

If you had to distill El Grito into just one dish, chiles en nogada would be it. It not only features the tri-colors of the Mexican flag in all their vibrant glory, but it is an edible window into an era of Mexican cuisine where European ingredients such as meat, cream, and dried fruit were melding with Indigenous ingredients like fresh chiles and nuts. In Mexico, as soon as pomegranate season hits, nearly every single restaurant features a rendition of it. If you’ve only feasted on cheese-filled chile rellenos, these Mexican-style, mincemeat-stuffed poblanos will make you re-evaluate your perception of Mexican food. The dish is incredibly painstaking to make, just like Mexico’s national dish of mole, but once you take that first glorious bite, it all feels worth it. Chiles en nogada is a special-occasion dish, but in Los Angeles, we are lucky to have a delicious version available year-round at La Casita Mexicana. Chefs Jaime and Ramiro were among the first cultural ambassadors of deeper regional Mexican food in L.A. and the first to put it on a menu in L.A. To this day, their version is still the best in town. In particular, the thick and velvety walnut cream sauce that drapes their roasted poblano is superlative.

4030 E Gage Ave, Bell, CA 90201. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Line 110 - “Gage/Otis” or Bus Line 260 - "Atlantic/Gage."


Pozole and antojitos at Los Cuates in Compton.
Pozole and antojitos at Los Cuates in Compton. Photo by Javier Cabral for L.A. TACO.

Los Cuates

One of L.A.’s very few weaknesses in our Mexican food tacoscape is the lack of cenadurías and places strictly dedicated to the craft of evening antojitos and pozole. All over Mexico, cenadurías are an institution and another late-night option you’ll find alongside taco stands offering the usual asada-cabeza-tripa cannon of tacos. You can order crispy tacos filled with seasoned requesón (Mexican-style ricotta cheese), picadillo, and, of course, potato at these magical places. And you can also find a reliably delicious plate of other antojitos like enchiladas, rojas or verdes, pozole, and tamales. Antojitos Los Cuates offers amazing versions of each of these antojitos. Owner and Jalisquillo Fernando Gonzalez hails from Ciudad Guzman, Jalisco, and realized right away the dearth of antojito houses in L.A., so he did something about it. He DIY imports tostadas raspadas from Jalisco that taste like popcorn and makes his requesón from scratch, proudly stewing his own hominy for his pozole blanco, pinching the pericarp off each grain so the corn puffs up like dumplings in the pork bone broth. He also pickles gelatinous pigs' feet and snouts for laying on top of his tostadas. He’s doing every single thing right and deserves a place in the halls of L.A.’s best Mexican restaurants.

1811 N Long Beach Blvd, Compton, CA 90221. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Line 60 - “Long Beach/Peck” or Bus Line 125 - "Rosecrans/Long Beach."


Flautas from Los Dorados LA.
Flautas from Los Dorados LA. Photo by Javier Cabral for L.A. TACO.

Los Dorados LA

If you’re a follower of L.A.’s Taco Life and you live to live, you will give in to your altered senses and order a pair of what are perhaps L.A.’s most magnificent flautas. And the crispy, juicy, and spicy euphoria that ensues will probably make you wonder: Why did it take this long for a roving taquero in Los Angeles to specialize in tacos dorados? Whether you opt for chicken, full-flavored lamb barbacoa, fluffy papas, or their handmade chorizo, you will find yourself craving this magical flute of a taco regularly. If excess guides your path, ask for your flautas “Glutster-Style” and see what happens. The founder and lead flautero, Steven Orozco, recently unveiled an ultra-dank salsa “borracha” for the lamb flauta that is passed down from his pioneering L.A. taquero suegro (father-in-law), Don Adolfo Martinez of El Taurino. It is smoky, spicy, and basically one degree away from us labeling it as a mole because it is so complex. 

@LosDoradosLA pops up on Sundays at Smorgasburg every Sunday. Tonight they will be at their shop at 5313 Alhambra Avenue in El Sereno from 5 PM to 11 PM, and tomorrow they will be at Brewjeria from 2 to 10 PM at 4931 Durfee Avenue, Pico Rivera.  

Smorgasburg: Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Lines 53, 60 or 62 - “7th/Central.”

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