Los Angeles is loaded with Mexican restaurants of every stripe ranging from abominable to sublime. Tlapazola firmly belongs in the latter category. "The Boys" (a set of brothers of identical diminutive height) started out a couple of decades ago in a converted fast-food storefront. They served shockingly (for the surroundings) well-prepared fish dishes. After some years, the place closed down without notice. Nothing was heard about them for years. Then a small article in a local paper said "the Boys are back!" Seems they had dispersed and apprenticed themselves in some of the best upscale restaurants in LA, absorbed what they saw in terms of cooking, presentation, etc., then reopened in a small strip mall in West LA. They have remained there, thankfully, for the last ten years or so, expanding into a much-needed adjacent space. One of the original brothers still is the chef at this location. Another brother opened a second location on Lincoln. So, what makes this place so good, so consistently good year after year? Apparently, success has not gone to their heads. They work hard to maintain high standards of food, presentation, and service-with-a-smile. For the tequila aficionados, they offer scores of brands in all quality ranges. Their "Cadillac" marguerita is exceptional. The Grand Marnier and 2nd tequila shots are poured into the drink at your table, with some of the second tequila shot reserved for you to shoot. The menu is well balanced between fish and meat dishes, but, if you like fish, do yourself a favor and give one of those a shot. We've rarely had a miss in terms of proper cooking (i.e., not overdone). What makes this Oaxacan as opposed to Mexican are the moles. Oh! Pumpkin seed, lime-caper, dark chile-chocolate, and many more. All done beautifully. We like to start with the salmon-roll appetizer, generously proportioned for two, which comes with five different moles on the plate to dip into. A great way to survey the sauces. For dessert, we're partial to the flans, both regular and coffee flavored. For the mains, well, just pick out what you like and you won't be disappointed. Atmosphere? It's in a strip mall, so the outside is entirely bland. Inside, its simply clean and crisp. No pinatas hanging here. The focus is on the food and drink. If you arrive early (5:30-6:30, you probably can be seated w/o reservations, but any later, and especially on Fri-Sat, you'd do well to call ahead. Keep it going, Boys!
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