El Valle Oaxaqueño
This vibrantly colored Pico Union spot is a Oaxacan restaurant, food market, and panadería all wrapped in one. A casual lunch excursion for some chicken mole or crispy tlayudas might quickly turn into an impulsive buying spree of bitter chocolate, handcrafted pots, and miscellaneous kitchenware that you never knew you needed. This same feeling can be applied to touring El Valle Oaxaqueño’s baked goods section, where tall glass displays are packed to the brim with golden, flakey, and sugar-dusted pan dulce. Oaxacan specialties are a must here, like their pan de yema–a fluffy egg bread best enjoyed with Mexican hot chocolate any time of day. Pan de muerto, typically seasonal, is also sold fresh here and comes as face-sized loaves of sweet bread sprinkled with sesame seeds for a classic touch.
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Pan De Yema
You might think there’s no way you can eat this massive roll in one sitting, but prepare to be proven wrong. These cloud-like pastries are deceivingly light, super eggy, and spiced with anise for a hint of heat and sweetness. The golden-brown crust and sesame seed topping also makes it one of the most beautiful loaves in town, or at least until you rip it to shreds for coffee dunking.
As much as we like the creamy black bean paste slathered all over this crispy tlayuda, it’s the quesillo that coats every inch of this thing that really does it for us. The tasajo beef is tender and salty, the cecina is bright red from its adobo marinade, and the chorizo links are packed with paprika flavor. The smoky salsa roja is a great way to bring some more heat too.
Amarillo De Pollo
This cacao-less mole is tangy, spicy, and full of citrusy chili flavor, but the sauce could use a tad more salt to make everything pop. The chicken thighs and drumsticks, however, are juicy and tender. Get this to split alongside a tlayuda or two.
Taco de Moronga A La Mexicana
A large, well-seasoned handmade tortilla filled with smooth refried beans and moronga sausage. This Oaxacana blood sausage is full of sharp metallic flavor, a bit of smokiness, and some subtle heat that helps make the beans pop. Everything comes together with the melted quesillo, which brings even more richness to this burrito-esque taco.