Best Moles in Forty Years

Taqueria Talavera

Decades ago, San Pablo Avenue boasted a tiny restaurant called La China Poblana. The owners, one from India, one from Mexico, served regional foods of both nations, grinding spices daily. Talavera makes the best mole since, serving up two variations, guajillo mole, using guajillo chiles and pumpkin seeds to create a rich, heavy sauce, and the more familiar mole poblana, with Mexican chocolate ground with spices and chiles into a complex mix. Plates ($9.60) come with rice, pickled sundries, and tortillas. The mole burritos ($7.40) are a better deal, as one can pack a large portion away to eat later or split with someone else as a delicious topping for nachos. The mole poblana burrito, in a chicken or pork version, uses excellent meats and rice, and is interlaced with pickled onions, which give a good bite through that depth-charge of a sauce. Talavera is charming, with its sparkling tiles (hence the name) and chunky tables. The only down side is that you can't fill up on homemade chips while you wait — the staff dispenses the snacks gingerly, as if a third rail runs through their plastic bin.

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