Essential T: Parrillada Oaxaqueña Tacos in Oaxacalifornia

L.A.’s Oaxaca restaurants are keeping the home fires burning with grilled meat platters

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.

The parrillada, or barbecue platter, is served in Latin-American restaurants all over Los Angeles: from the combinations of cuts and sausages served at Argentine and Colombian restaurants, to the surf and turf combos at Central American spots and at Mexican restaurants. While Oaxaca is famous for its moles, tlayudas and goat barbacoa, they are not known in Mexico for their grilled meats. That style is dominated more by northern states like Sonora, Chihuahua and Coahuila. However, a recent trip to Oaxaca has got me excited about the parrillada oaxaqueña, which is served in a clever form by our many Oaxacan restaurants in L.A.

At the celebrated Tlacolula Sunday market outside Oaxaca city, and in the Mercado 20 de Noviembre in downtown Oaxaca City, you’ll encounter smoky halls of searing Oaxacan meats featuring the 3 greatest hits: chorizo, cecina (pork in an adobo rub), and tasajo (salt-cured beef), as well as other cured meats and exotic cuts like cow udder. Get your order to the man behind the grill and take a seat–the tortilla lady will come by while other vendors sell you the other bells and whistles: salsas, Oaxacan cheese, grilled chile de agua, guacamole, and more. In Los Angeles, our Oaxacan restaurants mimic the outdoor fire with a heated brazier that comes to your table sizzling, equipped with everything you need to make Oaxaca-style grilled meat tacos.        

Restaurants like Guelaguetza, 7 Regiones de Oaxaca, and Juquila will deliver a fully loaded platter to your table with grilled cecina, tasajo, chorizo, Oaxacan cheese, onions, cactus, and chiles with tortillas on the side. Some have non-traditional elements like shrimp or chicken, and will substitute jalapenos for chile de agua (very expensive in L.A.). It’s almost like a trip to Oaxaca! 7 Regiones de Oaxaca, 2648 W Pico Bl., Pico-Union, 213-385-7458 Guelaguetza, 3014 W Olympic Bl., Harvard Heights, 213-427-0608 Juquila, 11619 Santa Monica Bl., West Los Angeles, 310-312-1079