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L.A. Taco Guides

Six Indigenous-Owned Oaxacan Restaurants In and Around Koreatown to Support

8:47 AM PDT on October 12, 2022

    L.A.’s Oaxacan community showed up to City Hall in full force on Monday, Indigenous Peoples Day, to denounce the racist remarks made public over the weekend against them by former City Council President Nury Martinez. At 10 AM, CIELO (Comunidades Indigenas en Liderazgo) held a press meeting denouncing Martinez’s hurtful words, and at nighttime, the co-founder of CIELO, Odilia Romero, organized a Oaxacan band to play their traditional music in resistance.

    Mexican and Central American Indigenous peoples are the backbone of most restaurant kitchens in Los Angeles. There are more than 200,000 Oaxacans who call L.A. home, one of the largest outside of Mexico, and as a result, L.A. has some of the best Oaxacan restaurants in the country. 

    Specifically, Martinez addressed Oaxaqueños in Koreatown, which is the epicenter of Oaxacan restaurants in L.A.

    In solidarity, here are seven Indigenous-owned Oaxacan restaurants to support. 

    Photo via Sabores Oaxaqueños.
    Photo via Sabores Oaxaqueños.

    Sabores Oaxaqueños

    Herman Granja is from the Costa Chica region in Oaxaca and opened this restaurant in the former Guelaguetza space in 2011. Their top-selling menu item is their “Canasta,” (Basket),” which is a feast for two people that includes two memelas (a thicker tortilla griddled until lightly crispy with asiento, Oaxaca’s delicious paste made from the crispy drippings after making chicharrón, two pieces of tasajo (salted, thinly sliced steak), two cecinas (chile-rubbed thinly sliced grilled pork), two chorizos links, a refreshing nopal salad, grilled green bulb onions, and quesillo.

    3337 1/2 W 8th St, Los Angeles, CA 90005. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Lines 66 or 206 - “8th/Irolo” or Metro D Line, Bus Lines 20 or 720 - "Wilshire/Normandie Station."

    Photo via Las 7 Regiones de Oaxaca.

    Las 7 Regiones de Oaxaca

    Opened in 1996, this restaurant was part of the first wave of Oaxacan restaurants that opened in L.A. In 2013, they were recognized as having “the best mole negro” in L.A. by LA Magazine. Besides their mole, their masa-based empanada made with their savory mole amarillo is also worth trying, especially when ordered with a charred piece of chile de agua, which is Oaxaca’s most prized fresh green chile that has as much flavor as it has a fiery bite.

    2648 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90006. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Line 30 - “Pico/Kenmore” or Bus Line 206 - "Normandie/Pico."

    Photo via La Morenita Oaxaqueña.
    Photo via La Morenita Oaxaqueña.

    La Morenita Oaxaqueña

    The couple that opened this restaurant on 3rd Street is from San Jerónimo Tlacochahuaya, and it stands out from the rest of the neighborhood’s Oaxacan restaurants for their juicy tacos de barbacoa de chivo, made from goat that is stewed with dried red chiles and herbs until fall-apart tender. The tacos are made with handmade corn tortillas and are almost the size of a burrito, requiring two hands to eat. It is served with a consomé, which adds another savory layer of juiciness.

    3550 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90020. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Lines 16, 204 or 754 - “3rd/Vermont.”

    Photo via Expresion Oaxaqueña.
    Photo via Expresion Oaxaqueña.

    Expresion Oaxaqueña Restaurante

    Expresion Oaxaqueña’s owners are from the Sierra Norte region of Oaxaca and have built a small Oaxacan empire in Koreatown, with five other locations offering imported Oaxacan quesillo, tortillas, herbs, and coffee. This is their company’s namesake restaurant, and what all the staples are the best-sellers: tlayudas, mole, and tamales.

    3301 W. Pico Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90019. Closest Metro line and stop: Bus Line 30 - “Pico/Arlington.”

    Photo via Guelaguetza.
    Photo via Guelaguetza.

    Guelaguetza Restaurante

    Guelaguetza almost needs no introduction. Beyond being a James Beard Award-winning restaurant and owned by the second generation of the Lopez family, they have doubled as L.A.’s unofficial Oaxacan consulate for many. Beyond the usual menu favorites like their festival de mole and parillada, which comes with grilled meats and a chile relleno, a personal favorite is actually their “Chalupas de Chileajo,” crispy thick tortillas topped with potatoes, peas, and carrots cooked an extra garlicky bright red salsa. 

    3014 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90006. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Lines 28 or 206 - “Olympic/Normandie.”   

    Photo via El Valle Oaxaqueño

    El Valle Oaxaqueño

    Look for the grasshopper restaurant logo to find this Oaxacan restaurant that specializes in tlayudas and freshly baked Oaxacan pan dulce. The owners are from Oaxaca’s central valley. Besides the classics, this spot also regularly offers tejate, a refreshing beverage served cold made from cacao, toasted corn, cacao blossoms, and the pit from mamey fruit, which creates a plant-based whip cream-like topping when it is mixed around by hand. If it is Pan de Muerto season, grab as many as you can. The egg-fortified spiced bread is some of the best in the city.

    1601 S Vermont Ave Ste 106 Los Angeles, CA 90006. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Lines 33, 204 or 754 - “Vermont/Venice.”

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