KOREATOWN (CBSLA.com) — A restaurant in Los Angeles’ Koreatown known for offering the Oaxacan experience has won a prestigious national award.
As CBS2’s Stephanie Simmons reports, Guelaguetza on West Olympic Boulevard is the first traditional Mexican restaurant to win an America’s Classic award from the James Beard Foundation.
From its mole sauce to music, Simmons says, Guelaguetza celebrates Oaxaca, a state in Mexico.
“It’s about having the authentic experience so it’s kind of that family experience is what Oaxaca is about,” Fernando Lopez, a co-owner of the restaurant, said. “It’s about sharing and being hospitable.”
Lopez runs Guelaguetza with his sisters. His father started the restaurant in 1994, and the family has maintained their traditional cuisine since.
“Food in itself is something very very special to Oaxacans. If you go to any house in Oaxaca, the first thing you are going to do, you’re going to sit down, they’re gonna feed you,” Lopez said.
Only five restaurants win the James Beard America’s Classic award each year in the United States, and only a handful of restaurants have ever won in Los Angeles.
“People like to explain it as the Oscars of the food world. You know, movies have the Oscars. Music has the Grammys. And the food world has the James Beard award,” Lopez said.
As Simmons reports, Guelaguetza continues to be the center of the Oaxacan community while now enjoying its new-found fame in the spotlight.
“Guelaguetza is a cultural house that happens to serve food, so it’s not just about the food; it’s about the Oaxacan experience,” he said.