Tamales and atole, a corn masa-based porridge, are a one-two punch combo of comfort found throughout Mexico and Central America. It’s a sure bet that you’ll also find this pairing at any of L.A.’s many Oaxacan restaurants and on the streets of Boyle Heights, Eighth and Irolo, Hollywood near Western and Santa Monica, MacArthur Park, and throughout South L.A. Just look for the Igloo ice chest and beverage dispensers holding tamales and atole, respectively.
You can especially count on three restaurants that serve fantastic atoles to slowly sip with your tamales, slowly because under the thick top layer is a magma-like center that can take out your taste buds for a couple of days.
Gish Bac is a shrine to atoles, like many Oaxacan restaurants can be. Gish Bac has a variety of the best Oaxacan atoles in town plus an unforgettable champurrado, a chocolate atole that’s a candied compliment to both your sweet and savory tamales.
One of our Oaxacan institutions, Monte Alban, which open in 1998, offers an atole de panela, a brown sugarcane-spiked atole that pairs well with their mole negro tamales.
Atole shuco, or dirty atole, a Salvadoran-style porridge made with black corn, beans, and pumpkin seeds, is found at one of my favorite Salvadoran restaurants, El Rincon Usuluteco.