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[dropcap size=big]I[/dropcap]’m not going to lie: It was the promise of mole fries that first lured me to Las Molenderas. Sure, the restaurant from Marisol Feregrino and her parents Lucio and Estela Morales,offers some of the city’s finest examples of moles, but I couldn’t wait to taste the freaking mole fries. That’s the kind of person you’re dealing with.

So, with my inner chubby kid leading the way, I tried them—the fries (skin on and hand cut, by the way), covered in made-from-scratch mole poblano and shredded mozzarella, were nothing short of heaven—but, obviously in the name of food writing and decency, I had to move on and explore the rest of the menu.

The standard mole plate (chicken with rice and beans, served with tortillas) was an early, easy favorite that everyone should have at least once before diving into the rest of the menu, but recently I moved on to the tacos, which are the best thing ever (yes, forever ever). Sold a la carte for $2.59 a piece, the tacos come on thick, hand-made tortillas. First, they’re filled with a mix of shredded dark and white meat chicken, and then they’re draped in the sauce of your choice. The fact that they don’t combine the mole and chicken together before putting them into the tortilla is key to their deliciousness because you get to actually taste the succulent meat, too. It adds to the seriously layered flavors of the sauces.

And, ah, those sauces. The moles are cooked from scratch for about six hours, giving them a deep richness that makes you want to lick the plate. You can get mole poblano, the dark, chocolaty variety that most Angelenos are used to, or the fiery mole poblano de chipotle. “It’s not too spicy, and then it gets spicier,” is how it was described to me, and that is so true—the hotness definitely escalates with every bite, which is why those thick tortillas come in handy. On that same note, if you do get the chipotle, you might want to go for the two-taco combination plate as the rice it comes with has similar cooling powers.

LasMolenderasTacos

While the mole poblano and chipotle tacos are topped with a couple of slices of raw onion and big chunks of cotija cheese, the pipian verde taco, which I also recommend (rojo and chipotle versions are also available), is sprinkled with pepitas, i.e. pumpkin seeds. These seeds are what the sauce, often called “green mole,” is based on. The pipian verde at Las Molenderas takes about two hours to cook down and is lusciously mellow. It’s the perfect counterpart to the intensity of the other two moles, so if you get two tacos, please make this one of them.

The rest of the menu at this HP gem is extensive. When food writer Bill Esparza first wrote about Las Molenderas – when it was still at its original location in Boyle Heights – he pointed out that the restaurant strikes an interesting balance between traditional Mexican (usually found only on the streets of Mexico and underground, home-based restaurants in L.A.) and pocho (Mexican-American) cuisine, which is illustrated with offerings like those aforementioned mole fries. A pocha, myself, that’s pretty much what I love about this place. I can channel my Mexican grandma and get an unadorned mole platillo or I can get a plate stacked high with mole-drenched nachos. There’s also mole with eggs, newly introduced pipian enchiladas, tortas, burritos, quesadillas, and so much more.

But, yeah, I’m fixated on the tacos at the moment.

Las Molenderas is in Huntington Park at 2635 Gage Ave., Huntington Park, CA 90255.

[Updated: Nov. 25 2018]

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