Madre! is one of our favorite restaurants in the South Bay, thanks to their tremendous cocktails, traditional - and less traditional - Oaxacan dishes, and what is, in our estimation, the best mezcal collection in Los Angeles County. And they’ve just opened a new location in Fairfax, with options for both patio dining and takeout.
The new outpost on North Fairfax takes over a space formerly occupied by a Pitfire Pizza, which, lucky for us, means they’ve got a wood-fired oven in-house. The initial menu is limited to antojitos (small plates), but if they’re anything like Madre!’s other two locations, we’d expect that to expand to include larger format dishes like molcajetes, tlayudas, and braised meats in the near future. Until then, here’s what you need to order when you go:
WHAT TO ORDER
One of our favorite antojitos at Madre!, the memelas are like handmade puffy tortillas made with masa. They come topped with aciento (pork butter), black bean paste, quesillo, and salsa. There are a bunch of different meat options, but our favorite is the chicken with chintextle paste - a smoky chile spread.
You’re making a huge mistake if you skip the tacos here. They’re served on handmade corn tortillas, and are topped with perfectly spicy salsas. Our favorites are the cecina (marinated pork with quesillo, grilled onions, and guacamole) and the tripa (beef tripe with nopal and pickled chiles de agua).
Going to Madre! and not ordering mezcal would be like going to the Louvre to use the bathroom. The owner curates the selection himself, and has been building his collection for seven years. It includes every variety you’ve heard of, plus countless more that you’ve never seen before. They’ll pour single or double servings of anything, and they serve them (as is traditional) with an orange slice and chapulines (dried grasshopper). The bartenders have an encyclopedic knowledge of what they’re offering, and we highly recommend chatting them up. If you’re opting not to order mezcal, at least get a cocktail - the El Chapo Y Kate (basically a prickly pear margarita) is their signature drink, for good reason.