Options are typically a good thing to have. When you’re shopping for a house, for example, you usually look at more than one. And if you want to watch Teen Wolf, it’s comforting to know that you can choose either the Michael J. Fox or the Jason Bateman version. At La Morada, on the other hand, we almost wish there were fewer choices - because they serve so many things that make us want to get down on one knee and throw a diamond ring at one of the walls.
La Morada is a Mexican restaurant in Mott Haven, specializing in Oaxacan food. It’s just one plain room with purple walls, roughly 10 tables, and the lighting scheme of a dental office - but the service is friendly, the menu is extensive, and choosing what to eat here will be one of the more difficult decisions you make in a year.
The first thing you’ll have to decide on is which of the seven moles to order. The mole poblano is great - but as long as you’re here, you should get one of the less common varieties. If you want something rich, but less sweet than the poblano, get the mole negro. Or if you’d like a mole that’s nutty, mild, and the color of Cool Whip, go for the blanco. And if it’s been a while since you felt something, try mole Oaxaqueno. It’s the color of a Ferrari at sunset, and the cloves inside will make you think about December while you simultaneously notice that your mouth is starting to burn.
photo credit: Noah Devereaux
These seven moles are only a fraction of the dishes you can eat here. La Morada also serves tortas, tostadas, bacon-wrapped shrimp, crispy gorditas stuffed with your choice of filling, and some excellent tacos on homemade tortillas - the al pastor ones are like warm little gifts filled with pork. And if you’d like to temporarily own a large number grilled things in a big stone bowl, you can get a molcajete. It’ll come with a few different vegetables, some grilled cheese, and your choice of two meats, all in a sauce that you’ll want to eat with a spoon.
At this point, we’ve only mentioned a few the of dishes we like at La Morada - because you probably have things to do, and you can’t stare at this screen all day. But the good news is that it isn’t hard to get a table here. So if you live in the South Bronx, stop by for a casual meal. And if you don’t, know that it’s worth a trip. The first time you see the menu, you might experience anxiety, indecision, and a pain between your eyes that’s really just a combination of your anxiety and indecision - but if the choice is too hard, just pick something at random. By the time you’re done eating whatever it is, you’ll be ready for a long-term relationship with this place.
If you’re only getting one mole, order this. With all the chilis and cloves, this mole is somehow both bright and wintry, and it has a good amount of heat. You’ll want to spread it over everything else you’re eating.
This mole is chocolatey and spicy, with a little bit of sweetness, and it balances all of these elements very well. Like all of the moles here, you can get it with either chicken, pork, or a chile relleno - and it also comes with some very good rice, beans, and tortillas on the side.
For something mild and comforting, order this. It might look a little like cream of wheat, but it’s rich and nutty, and despite the mildness, it still has a bit of a kick.
Even if you get mole with tortillas on the side, order at least one taco. The al pastor ones are excellent, but you really can’t go wrong. The tortillas are fresh and warm, and you’ll get some complimentary salsa and crema on the side.
This is a large stone bowl filled with various grilled things and your choice of two meats, like steak or pork. There’s also a pool of sauce in the bottom, and you’ll want to eat it like a soup. So bring a friend, a relative, or someone you just met, and share one of these.
Thick, crispy masa cakes cut in two and stuffed with your choice of filling. If this sounds like something you should order, that’s because it is.