A hopping good time at La Guelaguetza

I’ve been wanting to try La Guelaguetza for months now ever since I met its owner Bricia Lopez at LudoBites 2011 where she was seated at a table next to our’s enjoying dinner with her mother. However, getting up to LA is always so much trouble and although it had always been at the back of my mind, I never made real plans to go there specifically.

So when Austin and I were up in LA for an event recently, we arrived at said destination with a little more than 30 mins to kill. It was as fate would have it that our event was right across the street from La Guelaguetza and I squealed (yes I did) with delight as I told Austin we could just go in there, check it out and maybe get a drink and appetizers.

I was shocked to find the place completely packed and bustling with diners in every nook and cranny. A table right in the back of the restaurant was empty and we were shown to it. I was excited yet wanted to pace myself because we still had a full meal to attack after this, but I couldn’t resist perusing the rather extensive menu.

La Guelaguetza or los lunes del cerro is an annual indigenous cultural event in Mexico which takes place in the city of Oaxaca, and it is the cuisine of this city that the restaurant focuses on. Oaxaca is famous for its moles and no diner walks into La Guelaguetza without getting a taste of the mole even if you don’t order it.

A plate of tortilla chips is brought to the table doused with molé sauce and a sprinkling of queso along with a little bowl of salsa. It is a lovely touch, one that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

As we perused the menu, Austin orders a mango margarita which arrives in a gargantuan glass with a piece of fresh mango as garnish. The thick, sweet, very fragrant margarita was delightfully fresh and so tasty it was hard to resist and if you weren’t careful, a few of these might just knock you out before you know it.

I suddenly saw something on the menu which made my heart stop. Plato de Chapulines ($8.95), or fried grasshoppers, was something I’ve wanted to try for just about forever and seeing it there right in front of my eyes was an exhilarating feeling. As I exclaimed to Austin about my plans to order this, he looks at me quizzically with a tinge of skepticism. I asked if he would try it and he said sure, so I went ahead and ordered us some.

The plate arrived with the little bugs and two lime halves and some fresh tortillas. The tortillas here are magnificent. The texture is incredible and there is an aroma of corn that is second to none I’ve ever tasted.

After a squeeze of lime, I used my fork to gather a few grasshoppers up and put them in my mouth. They were crunchy with a slight earthy taste but overall, very palatable and surprisingly addictive. The only issue I had was they were on the salty side, but a nice drink in hand completely rectifies that situation.

We then made grasshopper tacos with those deliciously puffy tortillas and a little drizzle of the salsa roja, wrap, take a bite — DELICIOUS!

The menu is extensive and on our way out we saw people eating these delicious looking “pizzas” which I can’t wait to come back to try.

La Guelaguetza
3014 W Olympic Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90006
Tel: 213-427-0608

Guelaguetza on Urbanspoon

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