Monster XP Blog
Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with a Monster Appetite
Experiencing Oaxacan Tastings of Southern Mexico in LA
My name is Angel Sanchez and I have been part of the MonsterXP family for the past 7 years. Originally from El Paso, Texas, I moved to the sunshine state 9 years ago for college and stuck around after securing a Traveling Installer position with MonsterXP. After years of traveling the country for campaigns and permanent installations, I became a project manager for the Operations and Logistics department. As the company grew and changed, along with some hard work and a few raving reviews from clients, I eventually landed where I proudly stand now; the SVP of Operations and a Partner at MonsterXP.
Living in El Paso and having a large majority of my family live in Juarez, the city across the border, meant a lot of trips back and forth between the US and Mexico (multiple times a week at times) and gave me a real dynamic perspective into my Mexican Heritage. My family and I even lived in Juarez for a few months before I began High School. While I am extremely proud of my heritage, anyone close to me could tell you that my most favorite aspect of Mexican culture is the food! I was raised on the classic cuisine of Northern Chihuahua, which I believe is the inspiration for what everyone knows as Tex-Mex. While taquitos and chimichangas were not very present in my household, I came up on a healthy diet of tacos, tortas, burritos, flautas, and mole just to name a few. Now I had not done much traveling outside of the Southwest prior to moving to Florida, so my palette had a serious craving for other cuisines. My travels through MonsterXP’s nationwide campaigns and activations allowed me to fulfill a lot of those cravings, but I never lost the love for Mexican cuisine.
MonsterXP has always had a heavy presence in the country’s largest markets like New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles, to name a few. Lucky for me, our company’s incredibly successful activations always made for some spare time to sightsee, explore, and more importantly to me, to eat!
Earlier this year, I had the privilege of traveling to LA for a storefront domination we did for Netflix’s Shadow and Bone in the Melrose district of West Hollywood. Not only was this a prime location for our storefront activation, but it put me within walking distance of some incredible Mexican eateries. Being in West Hollywood, it is a given that these restaurants had a more upscale vibe to them as opposed to the hole-in-the-wall spots I usually find myself in. But just because they leaned on the fancy side, doesn’t mean these restaurants weren’t offering authentic takes of Mexican cuisine.
One of the restaurants I visited was called Madre and offered elevated Oaxacan tastings of Southern Mexico accompanied by a great selection of Mezcals and Tequilas. I had come here after a long day of work, so I intended on grabbing a few small plates and heading to my hotel room, but their menu convinced me otherwise.
The taco selection included classics like carne asada, carnitas, and chicken with additions of traditional southern Mexico sauces and vegetables that sounded absolutely delicious. But what really blew me away were the options of a coliflor (cauliflower) taco and a tripa (beef tripe) taco. While I can agree that it can be an acquired taste, it truly made my heart warm to see a humble protein like tripa being offered in this upscale setting since most Mexican restaurants do not offer it out of fear that the typical American consumer will not want it and will not sell. I am sure the coliflor taco is a no-brainer given Californians’ likings for all things vegetables, but I loved that Madre was showcasing how important vegetables are in Mexican cuisine and that they are often used as the focus of a dish. I obviously ordered a coliflor taco and tripa taco and got a carne asada as well. In the best way possible, these tacos tasted almost nothing as I expected them to. The tripas I’ve had my whole life were fried to a crisp, but these were sautéed gently and with purpose and included nopal (cactus). The coliflor taco had lightly fried cauliflower and included aguachiles in escabeche (a similar preparation to ceviche) and avocado in tomato sauce that made for an incredibly bright and fresh bite. The carne asada taco was heavily seasoned and juicy without being greasy and had a molcajete salsa that was not just spicy, but incredibly flavorful and fresh. The obvious hand-made tortillas were yellow/brown and most likely made with a different variety of corn as opposed to the white corn tortillas I was used to. I loved how the preparation of these tacos was wildly different than what I was used to back in Texas and Juarez. And yet, the perfectly familiar balance of a small freshly warmed tortilla and filling that packs a punch of flavor made me feel right at home.
I paired the tacos with a Michelada beer cocktail traditionally made with a Mexican lager, Clamato mix, hot and soy sauce, spices, and lime juice. Due to the varying amounts of ingredients and ingredients used themselves, Micheladas are hardly ever consistent from location to location and the one at Madre is definitely worth trying.
After inhaling my tacos and drink, I was further seduced by Madre’s Oaxacan main dishes, specifically their varieties of moles. Back home, there aren’t really different types of moles. Recipes may have a few differences here and there, but mole was mole; chicken with a dark brown Chile and chocolate sauce. I opted for their Mole Coloradito, a red mole with pork ribs, toasted chiles, sesame seeds, and Oaxacan chocolate. This dish was again completely different from what I understood to be a classic, and in the best way possible. The ribs were cooked to perfection and paired perfectly with the sweet red sauce. The taste of the toasted peppers was ever-present without it overpowering the dish with spice. Served along with delicious home-made tortillas, this dish showed me a whole new side of Mexico. I loved that Madre showed me the regional variations of classic dishes I’ve had my entire life. It was akin to an American being introduced to New York style pizza for the first time.
This is but one of many restaurants that I’ve had the pleasure of dining at and connecting with the food and people in a way that made me feel closer to home. I want to thank the MonsterXP team not just for allowing me to share my thoughts for Hispanic Heritage Month in the best way I know how but for allowing me the opportunity to travel the country and further connect with my own culture. I hope my passion for Mexican Cuisine will inspire someone to skip the taco fast-food drive-through and go to that Mexican restaurant you’ve driven by countless times to dive headfirst into something new.