Guelaguetza, the renowned Oaxacan restaurant located in Koreatown, was awarded a 2015 James Beard Foundation Award. The America’s Classics Award is given to restaurants that have “timeless appeal and are beloved for quality food that reflects the character of their community.” Known for their moles, enfrijolados and grasshoppers, Guelaguetza was founded in 1994 by Fernando Lopez and Maria Monterrubio.
The foundation refers to Guelaguetza as “the center of Oaxacan life in Los Angeles and the setting for countless quinceaneras, weddings, and anniversaries. A big, sprawling place in Koreatown, it features live music on a bandstand every night. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the restaurant draws both homesick Oaxacans and outlanders in search of honest Oaxacan foods.”
Guelaguetza’s location at 3014 W. Olympic Blvd. has an interesting history in the neighborhood: the building was originally V.I.P. Palace, one of the first Korean restaurants in Los Angeles. Young Bin Kwan was built in 1975 using traditional Korean-style architecture, which explains the thousands of blue tiles that roof the building. In the 1980s, the name changed to Buffet Palace.
Currently, the restaurant is run by Lopez’s children–Bricia, Paulina and Fernando Jr. Find out how Bricia defines the Zapotec word “guelaguetza” in this April 2014 Discover Los Angeles article.