Eat This Now: Tlayuda at El Moctezuma #2

Eat This Now: Tlayuda at El Moctezuma #2
Dave Lieberman

Harbor Boulevard in Anaheim and Garden Grove is well-known as a black hole of good food, being lined with every chain America could come up with. Eventually, though, the beige sameness peters out, and by the time you cross Lampson Avenue, you're back in the dusty, grimy Garden Grove we all know and love. Not five hundred feet south of the last high-rise resort hotel sits a U-shaped minimall with some of the best food available to visiting tourists--including a branch of the OC-only mini-chain El Moctezuma., a Oaxacan hole-in-the-wall par excellence that serves the best "Mexican pizza" in existence. (Suck it, Taco Bell.)

Called a tlayuda (or a clayuda), it's an enormous, crispy tortilla the size of a truck hubcap, spread with black beans and asiento (unrefined pork fat), then topped with milky, stringy queso Oaxaca, crumbly queso fresco, cabbage, tomato and avocado. For a little extra money, get meat on top: smoky and spicy cecina enchilada is the best option. Cut the richness of the dish with ensalada de nopales, chopped cooked prickly pear cactus paddles tossed with chilies, onions, tomatoes, cilantro, and lime juice.

El Moctezuma #2, 12531 Harbor Blvd., Garden Grove, (714) 658-8482. Also at 809 N. Fairview St., Santa Ana; (714) 648-0402, and 1740 W. Chapman Ave., Orange; (714) 456-0080.

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