BEST MOLE - 2005
Mini Mercado Oaxaca - CLOSED
There are a lot of great mole dishes in Phoenix, and consequently, this was one of the hardest categories to fill in BOP. Let's just say we never met a mole we didn't like, be it red, brown or green. The word "mole" comes from a Nahuatl word meaning "mixture" or "concoction," and true to the label, moles can contain a number of varying ingredients, including different chiles, onion, ground pumpkin seeds, and, if we're lucky, Mexican chocolate. Distinctive Oaxacan chocolate, ground with almonds, sugar and cinnamon, is renowned worldwide. And this may explain why one of our favorite PHX moles is created at the restaurant inside Mini Mercado Oaxaca, a little grocery store dedicated to selling Oaxacan products as well as serving a menu of traditional fare. Its mole with rice is everything a mole aficionado could ask for: thick as icing, warm and creamy, and a deep brownish-black in color. Sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds, the mole covers a chicken leg and thigh, but you're tempted to eat just the mole, maybe mixing in a bit of the orange-yellow arroz with it. Mildly spicy, this is the food of the gods. Or at least what we'd be noshing every day if we were deities.