La Sierra Oaxaca, 153 Broadway, Long Branch (one block south of the NJ Rep Theater) 732-222-5506
I don't know what Oaxacan cooking is supposed to taste like. I liked this food.
The menu is extensive. The waitress was encouraging us to order soup and fajitas. I got the impression that she was afraid the other dishes would be too spicy for us. They were indeed spicy -- "hurts so good" kind of spicy.
We ordered pollo enchipoclado and octopus veracuzana. The octopus was wonderful -- fresh, tender, in a tomato pepper cilantro sauce. The chicken was a very earthy dish -- three pieces of tender dark meat with a red-brown mole. The mole was fiery and delicious. My uneducated palate detected onions, those wine-red dried chiles (anjos??) and lard, but there was more to it than that. Real tasty.
They make their own corn tortillas. We had them hot off the grill -- delicious and thicker than I'm accustomed to. Really good rice and beans -- I plan to go back for what I expect to be a really good mexican breakfast.
The rice water (horchata?) had a nice cinnamon flavor and was a nice complement to all the firey food.
The flan was different than I'm accustomed to. It was baked in a ring shape and had a hint of cinnamon. It was brown and the texture was stiff and almost cake-like. Good.
I want to go back an try a soup. They have 7 soups on the menu: tortilla, pollo, beef caldo, tripe, posole, camerones, and mariscos.
The place is really inexpensive. Most entrees are under $10. My only complaint is that the jukebox was really loud.
** Also, there is a bakery two doors down from La Sierra Oaxaca -- Pasteleria Rosey. She makes tamales on weekends. Pork tamales with mole, red, or green sauce. I got some to go. Will try them tomorrow. (Rosey is from Puebla.)
Downtown Long Branch has several little Mexican and Brazilian places along Broadway. Has anyone tried the little Mexican cafe on the corner, just down from Joe and Maggies?