Essential T: Black Mole Tamales at Gish Bac

Say it nice and slow: “Tamales de Mole Negro Oaxaqueno.”

The very best Mexican foods start with the letter T—tacos, tortas, tlayudas. Here we showcase the tastiest “T” bites from the streets of L.A.

Tamales and café de la olla (Mexican pot coffee), or perhaps a nice atole (masa-based drink), champurrado (chocolate atole), or Mexican hot chocolate can be enjoyed any day and night here in Los Angeles. My favorite version of this Essential T combination can be found at one of the oldest (and, I’d say, best) Oaxacan restaurants in town.

Gish Bac in Mid-City is operated by David Padilla and Maria Ramos. A third generation barbacoa master from Tlacolula, Oaxaca, Gish Bac serves an outstanding menu of Oaxacan cuisine, from moles to antojitos (little whims) to their signature weekend barbacoa.

They also have the best traditional beverages in town to go with this week’s T, their tamales de mole negro oaxaqueno, or tamales filled with black Oaxacan mole, steamed in a banana leaf. These are street style tamales with Gish Bac’s excellent black mole. It’s a sauce that contains over 25 ingredients, all carefully toasted to add layers of aromatics and flavor.

The banana leaf bundle keeps the masa tender and moist. Take a bite: the whole comforting package is saturated with black mole. The layers of flavor make this an especially complex combination.

Fantastic tamales are the birthright of every native Angeleno—transplants, too. It’s the way we say good morning and good night here in Oaxacalifornia. Gish Bac, 4163 W. Washington Blvd., Los Angeles, 323-737-5050.