Mole poblano, Mexico’s national dish a point of pride for Oakland restaurant on Cinco de Mayo

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OAKLAND – It’s the busiest day of the year at Molcajete Cocina Mexicana in Oakland, as Cinco de Mayo is being celebrated.

Unsurprisingly, there are burritos, tacos and margaritas flying out of the kitchen. What owner and chef Manuel Torres really wants you to order from his extensive menu is this.

“The special for Cinco de Mayo today is mole poblano,” he told KPIX 5. It’s a sweet and spicy sauce with over 25 ingredients, sometimes 40, depending on who you ask.

“Chocolate, banana, tortillas and bread and different spices,” and many others Manuel won’t share for trade secret reasons — giving only this hint.

Mole Poblano being poured onto a dish at Molcajete Cocina Mexicana in Oakland, May 5, 2022.


“It’s a little sweet, a little spicy but I make it here. The mole poblano is very good,” Torres went on to say.

It is traditional to serve on Cinco de Mayo. The holiday we’ve come to celebrate here in the States with tacos, tequila and more than a dash of cultural appropriation is rooted in the Battle of Puebla that Mexico fought and won against Napoleon and the French.

Mole poblano has its origin story in the 17th century and is considered to be the national dish of Mexico – a point of pride.

“It’s very traditional. It’s good to eat on Cinco de Mayo, everyone makes it. Everyone makes it a little bit different – we make it a little bit sweeter – but it’s always very good,” said Maurcio Torres, son of Manuel.

If you do order it, know that someone like Manuel lost sleep over the sauce that can be poured over just about everything.

“Three or four hours. This is not a quick dish — it’s a labor of love. It’s too much labor,” said Manuel.

Like all traditions, it gets passed from generation to generation. Mauricio, 20, is still learning from Dad. “He tried. It’s a lot of things to try of prepare it, but I’m getting there. One day, hopefully soon.”

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