A SOUTH BAY MECCA FOR MEZCAL
Some things in life are definitely worth the effort. For me, I’ll make the sojourn for good food and drink so making the haul to the South Bay, Torrance to be exact, to Madre! Oaxacan Restaurant and Mezcaleria from L.A. was completely worthwhile
Madre is home to more than 300 varieties of mezcal, including artisanal mezcal and fine craft mezcal. You may want to skip the standard margarita and instead opt for a mezcal Paloma or sip on a shot of an obscure mezcal made from some wild agave that took decades to mature.
At Madre, think of owner Ivan Vasquez as your very own mezcal sommelier—happy to help you choose the right brand to your liking.
“When you’re drinking mezcal, you’re drinking water, soil and weather from thirty years ago,” Vazquez explains.
Oaxaca is all about mezcal and mole, and at Madre they have all their bases covered. There are six menu moles—rojo, negro, verde, amarillo, coloradito and estofado—all of which you can order with chicken to get an understanding and appreciation for each vivacious variety. The Pecado de Moles offers you a choice of any three moles.
Of course, the menu also features the classics such as enchiladas, tamales, burritos, tacos, tortas, stews, empanadas and so much more. A great starter item to share is the Queso Fundido con Chorizo (melted cheese, chorizo and mushrooms) as it’s unbelievably delicious. Many dishes feature a Oaxacan or mole version since that’s the specialty of the house so I would really recommend opting for that.
Another great dish to share in the traditional Cielito Lindo Molcajete—a steaming pot of spicy salsa with carne asada, grilled chicken, grilled shrimp, grilled fish, chorizo, grilled cactus, and queso fresco. The presentation is first rate as is the flavor. The El Cabron is head-turner as it comes with one enchilada de mole, chorizo, chile relleno, rice and beans, as well as chapulines, yes, that grasshoppers for the Spanish impaired. And yes, grasshoppers and mezcal is a thing, a good thing. Give it a try at least once.
Needless to say, the moles or at least one variety is a must-have order. That’s a no-brainer. And there are plenty of seafood items for any non-meat-eater. For the less adventurous eater there are burritos, tacos and tortas galore to choose from, including vegan options.
If you save room for dessert, you may want to try the Mezcal Flan—for adults only. Otherwise the flan and chocoflan are good choices, as is the Tres Leches Cake. Or you may want to substitute dessert for a nightcap, in which case I recommend having Ivan Vazquez choose a nice, earthy mezcal for you.
And don’t forget about Madre Happy Hour, which runs weekdays from 3pm to 6pm and 9pm to 11pm featuring $8 cocktails, including the Madre Margarita; Spicy Margarita; Smokey Mule with mezcal; and Paloma also with mezcal. Bottled Mexican beers, including Pacifico, are only $4 and certain draft beers are $8.
Madre is located at 1261 Cabrillo Avenue in Torrance. Open Sunday through Thursday 11am to 11pm and Friday and Saturday from 11am to 2am. Call 310-974-8005.
Story by: Jose Martinez
Photography Courtesy of: Madre