Essential T: Taco de la Abuela at Expresi贸n Oaxaque帽a

Tacos finally get their due in traditional Oaxacan cuisine

Although some traditional Oaxacan restaurants in Los Angeles turn their noses up at tacos and those misunderstood burritos, all one needs to do is pass a little time in Oaxaca to find several delicious taco traditions in Mexico鈥檚 most indigenous state. In the city of Oaxaca, you鈥檒l see聽tacos de cazuela (casserole tacos), Oaxaca鈥檚 regional name for the morning-to-afternoon tacos de guisado, which blend delicious stews with salsa, guacamole, and black beans in a large corn tortilla and resemble an open-ended burrito. Then there are taquerias serving al pastor and a ton of creative alambres (hashes), beef-head tacos, tacos placeros (hot and cold guisados), and many more delights from the taco kingdom.

I鈥檝e known that tacos weren鈥檛 as important to Oaxacan cuisine as their more celebrated foods, but Oaxaca is in Mexico鈥搕here had to be some tacos. Back in L.A., I had ordered the taco de la abuela at restaurateur Zeferino Garcia鈥檚 Expresi贸n Oaxaca聽more than a year ago, and saw this preparation around some other Oaxacan restaurants as well. But it wasn鈥檛 until a pair of trips to Oaxaca last year that I realized that Expresi贸n Oaxaca鈥檚 creation is not an Americanized taco. It鈥檚 part of Oaxaca鈥檚 small but proud taco lexicon, and quite welcome in the taco capital of the U.S: Los Angeles.

Not to mention, it鈥檚 a taco 鈥渇rom the grandmother鈥 rolled up in a big, delicious corn tortilla full of beans, guacamole, salsa, onions and cilantro, cabbage, and a selection from Oaxaca鈥檚 trinity of meats: tasajo (beef jerky), cecina (pork in adobo), or chorizo.

You might not see tacos in any of Oaxaca鈥檚 popular cuisine lists, and there might be a few Oaxacans here and there who鈥檒l quickly distance themselves from such a notion, but on the streets of Oaxaca and here in Oaxacalifornia, the taco is Oaxacan cuisine.

redarrow Expresi贸n Oaxaca, 3301 W. Pico Blvd, Arlington Heights, 323-766-0575