For many Angelenos, summer in L.A. isn’t quite complete without watching a concert under the stars and picnicking with wine and beer at the Hollywood Bowl. With the pandemic still affecting regular life, even the organizers of the Bowl have had to do something they’ve never done in the venue’s 98-year history: cancel an entire season of shows.
However, the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association has found a way to connect that missing link to summer. They’ve teamed up with KCET to showcase a six-episode series called “In Concert at the Hollywood Bowl.” Each week, beginning August 19, the station will air the Bowl’s best live performances of the past decade. The first episode starts with a celebration of music from Mexican and Mexican American artists, from acoustic guitar legends Rodrigo y Gabriela, to L.A.’s very own Grammy Award-winning darlings La Santa Cecilia.
As an homage to the evening and since it’s not a Bowl concert without food, here’s a guide to eating and drinking your way through the bounty of Mexican food in Southern California, with details on where to get the city’s best Oaxacan and Nayarit-style dishes, as well as vegan chicharrón tacos and a tamal recipe from a beloved L.A. institution.
Mole and Micheladas from Guelaguetza
Guelaguetza’s mole has been at the top of L.A.’s food scene for over two decades, and rightfully so. The Oaxacan restaurant located at the edge of Koreatown holds a coveted award from the James Beard Foundation. A labor of love, Guelaguetza makes all their varieties of mole — from coloradito to rojo — from scratch using recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation.
The restaurant is currently open for takeout, with options for both curbside pick-up and delivery. If you’re having trouble deciding which mole to get, they have a “festival de moles” option that gives you the best of four worlds, and you’d be remiss to not try their tlayudas and the family’s I Love Micheladas branded drink mixes.
For the home cooks, you can order Guelaguetza’s jarred mole directly from the restaurant or get it shipped to you, or make your own mole from scratch using this KCET video recipe that was inspired by the restaurant. Read more about the family’s legacy here.
Lamb Neck Tamal Recipe from Broken Spanish
When chef Ray Garcia announced on Instagram earlier this month that he was closing his acclaimed restaurant, Broken Spanish, it hit the city’s food lovers hard. The downtown L.A. eatery had become a leader in the exciting Alta California food movement, which was documented in an episode of KCET’s “Migrant Kitchen,” which can be viewed here.
For the past five years, the classically trained chef had been creating innovative dishes, from a porchetta-like chicharron complemented with garlic mojo, to esquites heightened by bone marrow. There was no other place like it. The late Los Angeles Times food critic Jonathan Gold described Broken Spanish in a review as “a kind of Guillermo del Toro movie of a restaurant, where serene farmers market cooking and bloody late-night taquería fantasies exist not just in the same restaurant but on the same plate, and the only thing of which you can be certain is that you have no idea what might be coming your way next.”
As a tribute to the cherished restaurant, here’s a recipe to Garcia’s lamb neck tamal that you can make at home.
Ceviche and Grilled Snook from Coni’Seafood
Before Vicente “Chente” Cossio opened his popular Mariscos Chente restaurant 30 years ago, he got his humble start serving coastal seafood recipes from his hometown of Acaponeta, Nayarit in his backyard.
Now called Coni’Seafood, with locations in Inglewood and Del Rey, his daughter Connie Cossio has been following her family’s traditions. Her outposts are a breezy haven for ceviche, aguachile and grilled snook — a Sinoloan and Nayarit specialty paired with caramelized onions and tortillas. Both locations are currently open with their full menus for dining, curbside pickup and delivery. And what’s food without drinks? You can order palomas, micheladas and margaritas to go as well.
Oaxacan Sour Cocktail Recipe from “Pati’s Mexican Table”
Pati Jinich, who was born and raised in Mexico, has been sharing her cooking adventures with the world for nearly a decade as the host of the PBS show “Pati’s Mexican Table.” She has an easy cocktail recipe here on KCET for a twist on a classic sour with flavors from Mexico. It’s a chipotle-spiced and citrusy mezcal libation.
Vegan Chicharrón from El Cocinero
It’s been a long time coming that the San Fernando Valley got its first all-vegan Mexican restaurant. While El Cocinero just opened in June in Van Nuys, it’s already gained a fervent following (with over 13,000 followers already on Instagram) and long lines, according to LA Taco. The restaurant, which serves everything from vegan chicharrón tacos, to jackfruit carnitas and pozole, is the brainchild of chef Alex Vargas. He created plant-based versions of his mother and grandmother’s recipes from Jalisco, Mexico. Currently, El Cocinero’s food is available for pickup.
Top Image: The food at Guelaguetza | Courtesy of Guelaguetza