Just like needing certain people on speed-dial for when you want to vent about meaningless drama until your voice is hoarse, you need a great Mexican restaurant standing by for social scenarios requiring margaritas and carne asada. La Cocina Oaxaqueña is that reliably excellent Mexican restaurant that’s necessary in your life, just like a friend who has the ability to always respond with “No, yeah, you’re absolutely right,” no matter what you say.
There’s nothing particularly fancy about La Cocina Oaxaqueña—it’s a dimly-lit dining room with flag banner decorations and a soundtrack of sizzles. But the food is consistently delicious, and it’s the kind of place that hasn’t ever let us down. They have strong margaritas served by the pint glass, amazing unlimited salsa, housemade chips fried the second you order them, and Southern Mexican dishes ranging from sour-and-spicy camarones al mojo de ajo, crispy enchiladas topped with velvety mole, and al pastor tacos filled with saucy, braised pineapple-y pork.
It’s also great for a variety of different situations. The large patio gets plenty of shade and is ideal for a tequila-fueled summer birthday dinner, while the not-very-crowded dining room’s darkness comes in handy for a date or impromptu group hang. It even works for a venting session—between mouthfuls of guacamole, of course.
Here, the tortilla chips are fried to order, every time. We’re talking burn-your-fingertips fresh, and it’s noble to see them continue to operate this way for years. Make sure the guacamole hits the table, which has the perfect avocado to lime to cilantro ratio. And, don’t ignore the unlimited salsa bar, which has a few different (delicious) varieties in bowls on ice.
These fried taquitos are filled with shredded barbacoa beef and covered with guacamole sauce, black bean sauce, dried chile sauce, Oaxaqueño cheese, and tangy crema. The tortillas still have a good crunch after being topped with a multitude of wet stuff, and they’re the best tacos that we’ve ever eaten with a fork and knife.
These are some of our favorite fish tacos in the city. The fish is covered in spices and pan-seared, then topped with a miracle crema that tastes like smoky chipotle, mango, and summer breezes.
These al pastor tacos are made with melty braised pork instead of grilled, and in place of pineapple pieces, the braising liquid has a sweet, juicy punch of piña. A must-order if you’re an al pastor fan.
These shrimp, marinated in a mixture of lime, garlic, and chile, used to be tear-jerkingly spicy back in the day, and they’ve toned the heat down throughout the past few years. Nevertheless, the sauce still has a delicious tartness that tastes fantastic bathed on shrimp and soaked through La Cocina Oaxaqueña’s fluffy rice. This is consistently our favorite thing to order here.
Flavorful and thin, this carne asada is great inside a housemade tortilla with salsa or in the same bite as rice and raw radish.
The tortillas in La Cocina’s enchiladas are fried before being topped with a nutty Coloradito mole sauce, melty cheese, and crema—the variation of textures and flavors make this specialty well worth ordering. It comes with a side of carne asada that we like cutting and mixing up with the tenderly-crunchy tortillas.