Rocio Camacho's Latest: Mole de los Dioses
Mole -- we've all had mole. Los Angeles may be the best place to eat mole outside Oaxaca and maybe the D.F., a bastion of both Oaxacan and Poblano styles of the ultracomplex sauce. If you can't find the famous seven moles of Oaxaca here, you're not looking. But ever since she jumped from the kitchen of La Casita Mexicana to her own Moles La Tia in East Los Angeles, Rocio Camacho has been renowned as a mole diva of distinction, a chef who takes the classic moles only as a jumping-off point for her fantasy moles made with things like coffee, white chocolate, pistachio nuts, hibiscus and rose petals. From Moles La Tia she went to La Huasteca, probably the fanciest Mexican restaurant in the South Los Angeles suburbs.
F. Friesema Jonagold apples
But now she's a solo act again -- in Mole de los Dioses, a modest restaurant in an obscurely located Sun Valley strip mall -- and the moles have already begun to multiply. It's not just moles, you understand: There are crisp empanadas filled with huitlacoche; reputable lamb mixiotes; three kinds of guacamole; an obscure pork dish called carne de chango, smoked with sugar cane; and cream of grasshopper soup. You will notice something of a nopales obsession here -- the restaurant is somehow related to the tortilleria Nopatilla next door -- and you can get bright green nopales tortillas as well as the regular kind, and an oddly refreshing agua fresca made with cactus and pineapple.
But mostly there are moles, tons of them, from the smoky-hot manchamantales to a huitlacoche mole served with veal; a traditional black Oaxacan mole and a sweeter Poblano mole; passion-fruit mole and pepian. For dessert: rice pudding with a neon-green tomatillo marmalade.
As a bonus, the restaurant is only one freeway stop past the Burbank airport, making it kind of an automatic stop when you find yourself in this relatively restaurant-impaired corner of the San Fernando Valley.