There’s no Mexican chef in L.A. quite like chef Rocio Camacho, who has worked at some of the best traditional Mexican bistros in town. She’s currently executive chef at Don Chente’s Bar and Grill (Huntington Park and DTLA), executive chef and partner at Rocio’s Mole de Los Dioses, consulting chef at Aro Latin, and just a few weeks ago, she opened her first establishment as sole proprietor: Rocio’s Mexican Kitchen, a take-out spot with a small dining room in Bell Gardens.
Even though I’ve dined at every restaurant where chef Camacho has cooked, her new project proves that I know nothing about the true range of this talented woman from Huajuapan de Leon, Oaxaca (a place I visited a little over a year ago). Rocio’s Mexican Kitchen has a tighter menu than any Camacho has ever worked on, serving only four traditional Oaxacan moles and mole poblano. The rest of the menu features dishes from Oaxaca, regional Mexican flavors, and something for her children—burgers, spicy chicken wings, and burritos made with quality ingredients.
The burgers and burritos are an easy hit in Bell Gardens, but the traditional Mexican dishes like albondigas, mole, enchiladas, and pork ribs are served spicier, showing stronger flavors with the same light and healthy Mexican approach that Camacho is known for. A Oaxacan chicken soup from her hometown chilate de pollo is scented with epazote and lightly thickened with masa—chile costeño delivers ample heat.
The exquisite chile relleno, a cheese-stuffed poblano pepper, is covered in a rich, bright red tomato sauce while the tacos de cazuela, or Oaxacan-style stew tacos, are served in corn tortillas flavored with chaya. Get the tongue tacos de cazuela to experience a beautifully tart, piquant sauce that clings to tender beef tongue sliced in thin strips—it’s the best tongue taco in town.
All of Camacho’s endeavors lead to good eats, and now her most personal restaurant is bringing the kind of daring cuisine we’ve all been waiting for.