Jonathan Gold, the first and only winner of the Pulitzer Prize as a food critic for the Los Angeles Times, passed away in July. More than just an astute critic, Gold introduced readers to the rich, diverse culture of Los Angeles and changed the perspective of Angelenos’ food appreciation. One restaurant that made Jonathan Gold’s 101 Best Restaurants in Los Angeles List is Guelaguetza.
Once a small, unknown restaurant, Guelaguetza has skyrocketed into fame as people sought mole, a traditional sauce served with Mexican cuisine, and other true Oaxacan flavors. The day after Gold wrote about Guelaguetza, there was a line people waiting outside the door.
“Guelaguetza Is The Best Oaxacan Restaurant In The Country,” said Jonathan Gold.
The queso fundido consists of melted Oaxacan cheese topped with mushrooms and chorizo served in a hot skillet, which tasted even more delicious without the toppings. Even lactose-intolerant people shouldn’t miss this: pop a lactase and dig in! Complimentary tortilla chips coated with sweet mole complemented the fondito. The queso is mouth–watering and I recommend it ten out of ten! So if one is looking for a great Instagram picture and a yummy snack, hit Guelaguetza up!
The “Enchiladas Campesinas” are packed with love and flavor just like an amazing present, deliciously wrapped with excitement inside! This dish featured three enchiladas. The enchiladas are composed of shredded chicken, wrapped in homemade tortillas, then covered in a mole of one’s choice. Three moles are offered for the enchiladas and those are mole negro, rojo or coloradito. The mole negro is rich in flavor, the rojo is on the spicier side and the coloradito is more sweet. Any option is sure to be tasty. One should consult with their waiter before ordering to decide what is best for them. For an enchilada enthusiast or just anyone who thinks they would like to try this dish; it is definitely recommended!
The “Mole Negro” is featured on the menu as an “absolute must-have.” So already, one can infer it’s a fan favorite. The dish offers a choice of either chicken legs or chicken breast paired with black mole. One of Oaxaca’s famous moles, the black mole is deep, rich and unsweetened. The chicken is cooked to perfection and is overall memorable.
Just like the food served at Guelaguetza, the building itself expresses culture. The exterior of the building which has been painted in lively orange with beautiful depictions of birds, angel wings, and children, is aesthetically pleasing. Inside Guelaguetza, the people are warm.
The waiter was kind, frequently checked in on us and was extremely helpful. On a Saturday night, around 6:30, there was a wait time of about 20 minutes. However, wait times can reach up to an hour or more. Reservations are also available, but only in advance before all the tables fill up. Guelaguetza was full, but didn’t feel cramped as the ceilings are high and the room is spacious. The ambience and vibes within Guelaguetza were friendly and welcoming. A live band was performing which really tied up the mood. They would sing happy birthday to guests, at which time everyone joined in to clap along.
Guelaguetza, a family run restaurant which serves authentic Oaxacan cuisine, is located in Koreatown and lies on W. Olympic.