My love affair with authentic Oaxacan Mexican food began when I lived in LA some 5 years' ago.
The Original Farmers Market on 3rd St. and Fairfax was my backyard. I'd saddle up to the over-the-counter bar at Loteria Grill with my trusty hand model, and order Carne Deshebrada Tacos and Tinga de Pollo Tostadas.
Now, keep in mind, I looovvvvve Mexican food. But I'd never tasted Oaxacan food quite like this before. The stewed meat and sauces were vibrant red and maroon, and the flavors were bursting with spice, smoke 'n sweetness.
The Carnitas Taco I had this past weekend at Lola Gaspar – while the rest of Southern California was at Coachella – reminded me of this style of cooking, but modernized.
Lola Gaspar is a Latin and Spanish inspired restaurant, located in Santa Ana's Artists Village. It's just one stop down the brick laden 2nd Street Promenade. They offer two entirely different dining experiences. The patio is perfect for a relaxing meal, underneath the trees. If you wanna kick it up a notch, then belly up to the lively bar, or get cozy at the few select tables inside.
Chef Luis Perez' menu is comprised of small- to medium-sized tapas style plates, and craft cocktails.
the best taco I ever ate, I had an outer body experience, complex sweet 'n smokey flavors, uniquely light 'n thin handmade tortilla, Carnitas Tacos with Salsa Negra, Avocado, Cream & Pickled Chili $10
tender broth, perfect consistency, sweet 'n spicy, Black Cod with Blue Crab Coquette & Coconut Tomatillo Broth $15
a modern cheesy 'n crunchy version, Fresh Guacamole with Pepitas, Cotija Cheese, smokey Chipotle Salsa & spicy Pineapple Salsa $11
The Carnitas Taco is definitely not to be missed. In fact, I had an outer body experience while eating it. The hand model was talking to me, but nothing was computing, because the burst of sweet, smokey 'n spicy flavors completely took over my senses.
Our server Emily offered great suggestions, too (like choosing the Carnitas over the Short Rib Tacos), and even told a little history. Lola Gaspar has been open since 2008, and they have a sister restaurant called Stocking Frame in downtown L.A.'s Fashion District.
Happy Hour is from 5pm to 7pm weekdays with a selection of Tacos, Small Plates, Beer, Well Drinks, and Sangria ranging from $3 to $5 each.
I look forward to going back for 'mas'.