I’ve got to admit something: I’m not the biggest fan of mole. I know, I know — gasp, veto my Mexican credentials, set up a bucket over my doorway and let the chocolate sauce flow as I walk through; do what you will. I’ve just never really been into the idea of chocolate-flavored goodness on my chicken, beef or anything. The sweet effect throws me off.
But, since they opened in January, I’ve been begging someone to join me at the acclaimed Rocio’s Mole de Los Dioses in Sun Valley. I knew I had to embrace the mole fever, but I needed an objective head to help me judge the supposedly god-like stuff. Kristy Sandoval, poor soul, joined me under the guise of a Paint the Cure team meeting. We talked business, but more importantly, got down to some grubbing business. Five-mole sampler? Oh, yes.
With the menu so expansive and the mole so famous, Kristy and I opted for an appetizer that would let us try five different types. We went for the original mole de los dioses, oaxaqueño, verde, tequila con limon, and cafe. Kristy and I both agreed that the mole de los dioses was a favorite; it tasted like it had hints of canela even though one of the key ingredients is cuitlacoche, a fungus that grows on corn plants. Definitely the perfect balance between smoky and sweet.
Kristy was also a big fan of the oaxaqueño, which packs a deep flavor with more than 30 ingredients. It was too rich for my blood, but it’s something I can eventually appreciate as I grow used to the idea of eating mole regularly. The mole verde (serrano peppers and green tomatoes) was another winner and I personally thought the mole de cafe, made with coffee beans, was complex and interesting enough to keep my cactus tortilla dipping.
Between the soft (and green!) tortillas and my amazing horchata (there are no words), I was already feeling full. But the main course was just arriving. I ordered the cochinita pibil, a slow-roasted pork dish from the Yucatan region that’s traditionally soaked in delightfully sour orange juice. Kristy ordered the diosa afrodita, shrimp in a spicy green sauce served with fruit.
The chochinta was a hard sell for me because I’ve had it homemade from a Yucatan native, but it was still tasty and the plate was worth ordering for the frijoles alone. Kristy’s dish blew me away, probably because I’m a sucker for anything drenched in chile and limón (get out of here when you throw pepino in the mix). It wasn’t just my predisposition for spicy and sour, though, because the shrimp was incredibly fresh and supple. Plus, the dish was presented beautifully with an avocado flower atop the concoction.
All in all, I left Rocio’s with a new outlook. Perhaps I just needed to try a new kind of mole or maybe the gods had something to do with it. Regardless, I don’t think I’ll complain if you go ahead and place that bucket above my doorway. Just make sure it’s filled with mole from Rocio’s.
What: Rocio’s Mole de los Dioses
Where: 8255 Sunland Blvd., Sun Valley, right off the 5 freeway
Hours: Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and 5 p.m.-9 p.m., Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. and Sunday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Try: The mole sampler, mole de los dioses, diosa afrodita and the horchata.
Rating: *****5/5 stars on the standard scale, ***** 5/5 stars on the “hood good” scale
More information: (818) 252-6415, rociosmoledelosdioses.com.