Yup, still love Mexican food. Here are a few places in the East Bay that I’ve become quite smitten with this past month.
Los Moles in Emeryville
Walk into Los Moles on Sunday morning and you’ll find six shades of moles simmering in copper pots, pozole and menudo steaming in clay cazuelas, pinto and black beans, orange and green rice, crispy carnitas, and warm churros by the stack. Behind the buffet in the kitchen, cooks whip up classic Mexican egg dishes, whisk cinnamon-spiced Mexican hot chocolate, and press balls of masa into fresh corn tortillas. If a village in Jalisco hosted an all-you-can-eat brunch, I’m pretty sure it would look something like this. Here are some beautiful photos my friend Laila Bahman took.
Sunday brunch is from 10 am to 3 pm, and $15 will get you as much as you can eat and drink (except for Mexican hot chocolate). I loved the pipian mole, a pumpkin seed mole that rarely makes it to American plates, as well as the carnitas, and the pinto beans with corn. Don’t forget to leave room for churros and cafe de la olla.
Pipirin in Fruitvale
There’s a parking lot, a truck, some white plastic chairs under a tarp, and some damn good $2 tacos soaked in a light but not wimpy salsa. The woman running the show knows everyone’s order who walks up (sin crema, con cebolla, etc.) and I hope she’ll soon get to know mine: one barbacoa (shredded beef) and one pierna (which I think is pork shank). This place specializes in tortas ahogadas from Guadalajara, which means Mexican sandwiches “drowned” in salsa. There’s a sign for Las Autenticas Tortas Ahogadas de Guadalajara in front and the real message is that you’ll need napkins. 34th Ave & Farnam St, right above International. Thanks to my editor, mentor, and taco-scouter, Rick for this recommendation.
Mexico Tortilla Factory in Newark
This is a little far for me to drive to on the regular, but if you live closer or happen to be in the area, this all-in-one restaurant, tortilla factory, and Mexican market is most definitely worth a stop. While the menu features typical taqueria fare, the star of the menu is the masa, made the old fashioned way with just corn, water and lime (the factory is just behind the restaurant walls). Its most triumphant form is the tamales. I had a chile rojo pork tamal that was moist (aggghh how I hate that word) and was heavy on the filling (my preference when it comes to tamales). The pozole was also good, and the refried beans and orange rice were on the salty side (also my preference when it comes to many things).
The current owner, Sucy, took the business over from her dad, a Mexican immigrant who started making tortillas as a side hustle while working at GE in the 1970s. She greets multiple customers with hugs, and knows most everyone’s business (from back surgery to new hairdos). She’s also on city council, volunteers for an organization that provides scholarships for latino youth, and puts on community Day of the Dead and Christmas celebrations. After my trip, someone asked me why the heck I would go all the way to Newark for lunch. I said for the good Mexican food, and for a hug from Sucy.
Read full articles about Los Moles and The Mexico Tortilla Factory on the Vision Hispana website.