For your next Napa trip, forget about wine and cheese. Forget about oh-so-fancy big-name restaurants. Where you want to go is La Mixteca, a true Oaxacan restaurant. It’s very different from the Oaxacan places you find in, say, Los Angeles, which typically focus on dishes from the Valley of Oaxaca region. If you order right, what you’ll get will be glorious.

There is duro con ensalada de cueritos. This is a duro (a sandal-shaped fried wheat crisp) topped with salad and cueritos (pickled pork skin). It’s a symphony of contrasting textures and flavors, says kare_raisu. “If you can get beyond the pickled pork skin- and I hope you do–you will be rewarded! Generous slices of avocado, juicy tomato, crisp duro, chewy cuerito, warming jalapeno, rich crema and chopped cabbage.”

“It’s a textural orgie,” says Eat_Nopal. He can’t get over how well the duro and cueritos work together—and his father was an artisan of tostadas and pickled pork skin. (This dish isn’t on the regular menu; there’s a sign on the wall, to the right of the counter.)

There is stunningly good chile ajo de puerco. “If I was alone, I would have licked the plate clean–no joke,” says kare_raisu. “You get about 4 riblets awash in this absolutely sexy deep brick red sauce nuanced with clove and peppercorn.” The dark pork meat is tender and succulent, says Eat_Nopal. And the sauce is addictive—spicy, elegant, balanced, and complex.

There are also killer little suadero tacos. Suadero is beef, magically prepared to taste like chunky, shreddy carnitas. It’s fantastic—tender, and a pleasure to eat.

And tostada de tinga is amazing. The tostada is fresh and crisp, and the chicken is glorious. It’s wonderfully juicy and has this elegant, nuanced chipotle thing going on. It’s a little symphony—juicy and warm chicken, crisp tostada, cool crema, salty Cotija, salsa.

Cucumber (pepino) agua fresca is great, too—simple, light, and satisfying. It may seem too sweet at first, but it goes along perfectly with the dishes, says RWCFoodie.

Not everything is tops. Sopes are undercooked; carne asada is sort of limp and sad. A lot of the regular tacos are boring. Go for the specials, and go for the weird-looking Oaxacan stuff.

La Mixteca [Napa Valley]
2580 Jefferson Street, Napa

Board Links: La Mixteca/Napa… how do I love thee!
Eat Nopal & Kare Raisu take on a Block in Napa
Napa Notes & ‘AM La Mixteca’ discovery

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