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You'll find no shortcuts at Guelaguetza restaurant in Los Angeles — no US-made tortillas in the kitchen, no chain-store Michelada mix behind the bar. Guelaguetza, in the Koreatown part of Los Angeles, takes real pride in bringing Oaxacan culture and food to hungry customers. Co-owner Bricia Lopez blames it on her family's perfectionism: "If we didn't care about the level of detail that goes into every dish, we would lose the essence of who we are," she says.
Owners Fernando Lopez and Maria Monterrubio came to the US with little money, speaking no English, yet they knew they wanted to open their own restaurant, serving their traditional Oaxacan recipes. With hard work, their family restaurant turned into a mini Oaxacan empire in Los Angeles, earning praise from critics like Johnathan Gold to mainstream media like Oprah magazine. When the recession hit the restaurant business, Lopez and her brother and sister decided to buy the restaurant from their parents to keep the traditions alive. The family's crowning achievement: winning a James Beard Award in 2015.
Feast on chapulines a la Mexicana (that's right, grasshoppers) while you sip on a cocktail, order the mole (it's the house specialty, for good reason), and stay for awhile — it's the way the family owners intended you to enjoy Oaxacan food.