Tlapazola is one of the small westside Oaxacan contingents The Monster finds himself stopping by when the mole bug hits and East LA is a pipe dream.
Not much to look at, it’s clean and pleasant with knowledgeable and friendly servers and the lights dimmed low at night as the salsa plays. It’s half date night and half local grab bag clientele.
Chips with smoky salsa start you off. Can’t say The Monster loves them. It just tastes…smokey. Not bad, just wish the salsa had more nuance which is what it’s aiming for as it attempts to mimic mole’s rich flavors.
Perusing the menu it is a nice mix of classic dishes and unique spins on favorites. While it can be seafood heavy, meat eaters delight as reports are they fare well.
The chicken tortilla soup with Monterey jack, consome garnish doesn’t inspire much confidence however. It has hints of rising above the fray but mostly leaves the taste buds feeling like they’ve been scorned.
The guacamole is fresh, large chunks of avocado and tomato. Wish it had a little kick, a little zing to enliven it.
Next up are the masa pancakes with achiote shrimp, queso fresco and yellow mole. Recurring theme so far, decent eats but lacking a pop that makes you take notice.
The moles leave The Monster feeling braving rush hour traffic to head east would have been wise. Neither the yellow nor black mole displays the depth and breadth of the best of this dish and the fact that it is a cut up chicken breast and not on the bone doesn’t ring true. The coastal rice and black beans are well enough done.
The shrimp with smoked chipotle, spinach and garlic mashed potatoes fares better but still fails to wow. The large shrimp are perfectly grilled but the sauce which sounds so lovely comes up flat.
On this trip The Monster skips both the drinks (a definite highlight) and the dessert and instead decides he needs to save his money for a second home on the east side.
Why go? Because in the same shopping mall is a place called Oops Sushi and Sake Bar and that sounds filthy.
Monster rating: 3/5 Monsters
11676 Gateway Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90064