At Farrelli's, we can scope out a potential paramour and enjoy a fine meal and a movie for only $43 (Here's the math: tickets, $12; sodas with free refills, $3; juicy Angus cheeseburgers on sourdough rolls with piles of fries, $18; and for dessert, homemade cheesecake, $10). For a first date, there's no debate: It's Farrelli's.
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.