Oaxaca Restaurant: Los Pacos Known for Moles (MOH-lays)

Mole is a Oaxacan treasure, a rich sauce flavored with chili that tops beef, chicken, pork, vegetables, tamales, and tortilla dishes.  The most popular (and well known) are mole negro and mole coloradito, but it comes in seven varieties.  We stumbled upon Los Pacos on our last night in Oaxaca after circling and searching Independencia west of town looking for Mi Casa (near Aparicio–recommended by a friend), which we never located.  It was 9:30 p.m. and we needed to be at the bus station by 12:00 midnight and our stomachs were rumbling.  Eric said he heard of Los Pacos but had never been there.  We walked several blocks east of Macedonia Alcala to discover it was right around the corner from the Camino Real Hotel at Abosolo #121, Centro Historico, Tel. 516-17-04.

Have you been here before? we were asked by the proprietress Lucy Rodriguez Galguera.  No, we answered in unison.  We are known for our moles, she said.  Let me bring you a sampler.  She came back to our white clothed table with small dishes and a plate of fresh corn tortillas for dipping.  The mole estofado was the hands-down favorite for all of of us, with the mole negro coming in for a close second.  The mole negro was rich, spicy, deep, dark chocolatey and smooth.  You could just imagine the secret recipe being prepared by someone in the kitchen who knew exactly how to blend the chilis, nuts, cinnamon and chocolate. In addition, the sampler included amarillo (spicy yellow), coloradito (chocolate and tomatoes), verde (green chilis mixed with small white beans), chichilo, and estofado moles.  The estofado was sweet, smokey and had a hint of raisins or berries.  It was spectacular.  Because I couldn’t decide, I customized my order by asking for three chicken enchiladas, each topped with a different mole:  negro, verde and estofado.  Our waiter happily complied even though my request was not on the menu!

Dinner for the four of us was under $60 USD and included beer, wine, and an appetizer.  As we ate, we looked out through the tall, arched, windows, onto the avenue bathed in lamplight at the ancient stone walls of the ex-convent across the street.  Behind us on the far end of the dining room were blown glass lamps illuminating the carved wooden bar.  Everyone in the room glowed with warmth and happiness.  The harmony of food, friendship and the city we love, made this a perfect spot with which to end this part of our journey.

This restaurant was written up in the NY Times and Conde Nast Traveler at least 4-5 years ago.  I would venture to say it is every bit as good today as it was then.

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