In a quest for legendary mole negro The Monster heads out to Gish Bac, an unassuming Oaxacan restaurant off Crenshaw Boulevard in historic West Adams. It’s a neighborhood of contradiction, stately homes gracing side streets and homeless men gracing street corners.
A narrow room with a few tables of hungry folk looking for inexpensive but authentic food and a soundtrack of Mexican pop music is the whole of the ambiance. On this day The Monster is the only person speaking English. Good sign.
The order is the mole negro and a chicken empanada with yellow mole. It’s too much food but that’s what to-go bags are for. When you come you may want the weekend only goat or lamb barbacoa for which the restaurant is also famous.
Service is incredibly friendly and fresh hot chips are immediately brought to the table. A salsa bar from which to pick your poison is stationed in the back. These are not gringo salsas, they pack a whallop and sting as they slide down your throat. Fantastic.
The mole is simply exquisite. Rich, earthy, chocolatey, it’s complex flavors are a steal at less than $10. Accompanied by rice and two warm flour tortillas it puts many restaurants that serve $30 plus entrees to shame. With over thirty ingredients and a host of chiles as its base the mole is a study in the art of cooking for which this region is lauded.
The empanada looks like a giant quesadilla and doesn’t fare quite as well, the yellow mole (here a shade of orange) lacking the fiery intensity of the mole negro and the consistency is more orange goo than anything else.
Taking one last luscious bite of the mole negro The Monster realizes it’s the best he’s ever had. And he’s reminded why he’ll drive forty-five minutes away by himself for a meal like this.
Why go? Mole negro!
Monster rating: 4½/5 Monsters
4163 West Washington Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90018