Nowadays, in this Mexican-food nation of ours, mole poblano is the Will Smith of the mole world: someone who was super-big way back when, but receded in popularity once newer, better options became available and is now just there, still hanging around, but now so unremarkable you start wondering why it was big in the first place. You can find mole poblano at nearly every restaurant, and it's always a giant bore: too sweet, too gloppy, the chicken too rubbery, with no heat and no nada.
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The last bastion of marvelous mole poblano is at a seemingly unlikely place: Los Reyes de el Elote Asado, a lonchera that parks off Chestnut Avenue and Main Street in big, bad SanTana. It's legendary for its roasted corn and esquites, but the owners are from Puebla and have expanded the menu mightily over the years. The secret specialty? Mole poblano.
It's slathered on most everything, from huaraches to mulitas to even a wet burrito, but you can best appreciate the mole poblano in the form of a humble taco. Spruced up with just a thin layer of refried beans, this mole poblano is the Steve Buscemi of moles: something that's always just there, that you want to dismiss as just another face in the crowd, but which constantly stuns with its performance. The mole strikes the right balance between heat and sweet, leaning more toward the spiciness gracias to judiciously placed serrano slivers. The chicken is grilled just right, chopped into perfect nubs. Ask for it in a tortilla hecho de mano, and the resulting earthiness ties everything together as perfectly as a sheepshank.
Los Reyes de el Elote Asado, on the corner of Chestnut Avenue and Main Street, Santa Ana. No phone number.