No. 86 Mar y Tierra Molcajete at Paxia
4001 Tejon Street
The molcajete, a Mesoamerican stone mortar and pestle, didn't evolve as a cooking implement. They were -- and still are -- traditionally used for grinding and pounding herbs, spices and chiles and preparing salsas and moles. But somewhere along the way, someone (probably after leaving one too close to an open fire and getting a nasty burn) realized that the stone retained heat very efficiently; from there, molcajetes began to be used as cooking and serving vessels for hot, stew-style preparations. Paxia, an upscale but fun and lively joint run by the owners of the more humble Los Carboncitos, puts the molcajete to particularly good use in its mar y tierra dish -- that's surf and turf to us Northerners.
See also: 100 Favorite Dishes of 2014More »