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But mostly, we come for the sweet, ready-to-eat creations. There's no better pan dulce -- warm, fluffy and with just a hint of sugary tone. The empanadas are endearing, too, tart with pineapple or smooth with pumpkin. And these cooks know how to crank out the cookies, brightly colored frostings and all.
Lulu's are the best. And that's not just trash tacoing.
We prefer to let the Lopez family cook for us, however, in their little cafe. They're masters of the Oaxacan tamal -- a delicious version of chicken steamed in a banana leaf and dressed with mole oaxaqueno (a sweeter mole containing almonds as well as red chiles, spices, chocolate, sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds). Chase it with champurrado, a luxurious chocolate atole (a thick drink made with masa, milk and vanilla).
We're a little sorry to be sharing Mini Mercado Oaxaca with the masses. But then, we never could keep a secret this delicious.
While other restaurants may boast long tequila lists, the Coyote's also got that $145-a-shot super-premium star, José Cuervo 1800 Colección, of which Cuervo releases only a few hundred bottles a year. We can make do with the equally good Herradura's Seleccion Suprema, at an easier-to-swallow $35. And for dessert, the Grill has flavored tequilas -- coquila (coffee, chocolate and cream), rose (strawberry and cream), and almendrado (almond). Now that's tequila worth toasting.
One reason, we suspect, is word of mouth about Arriba's breathtaking carnitas. The grilled piggy pieces come two ways, traditional style with fajita fixings and flour tortillas for wrapping, and spiced with gutsy adobada, tucked in a massive burrito and paired with black beans and rice.
Either presentation, crispy-edged and juicy, makes us smile. Arriba, your carnitas carry us away.