April 23rd, 2010

In the last month two different friends told me that there was an amazing new restaurant in San Francisco that I had to try. Both were so excited to bring me there, each said they had not been to any place quite like it. They both took me to the same place, La Oaxaquena, a miniscule little Mexican place on Mission Street. Since then I’ve taken two friends there, telling them the same things I was told. And now I’m telling you.

La Oaxaquena is an example, I think, of the way that San Francisco can sometimes get a thing exactly right. You have to sift through the clutter of clichés to get here perhaps; oil-less vegan enchiladas that crumble on your fork for $10 at one place, $6 fresh pressed organic ginger-carrot-beet juice that tastes like childhood punishment at the next, but every now and then you get to a gem like this one.

La Oaxaqena’s menu ranges from traditional Oaxacan fare, banana leaf chicken mole tamales being the most popular example, fried grasshoppers the most exotic; to wild hybrids like zucchini pesto mozzarella pupusas. You can get traditional Mexican hot chocolate, to which you can add soy milk or chili powder if you’d like. There are people on Yelp saying that it’s the most authentic mole they’ve eaten since they left Mexico, and others saying that the vegan tofu tamales with collard greens are the best they’ve ever found. Several cultures have melted in the pots in their kitchen and it is so worth the drive to San Francisco to taste the result.

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