La Morada, on Willis Ave in Mott Haven, is a neighborhood treasure. The food is incredible and is reason enough to visit. (Be prepared for it to become part of your weekly routine.) But more importantly, the family that owns and runs La Morada have established it as a warm and welcoming space for the surrounding community. From a shelf full of books to peruse, borrow or add to, local artwork covering the walls and postings firmly denouncing deportation and displacement, this is a space that encourages conversation, engagement and connection. You feel welcomed and at home when you’re at La Morada. In a time when we need safe places to think, question and challenge the ways of our world, La Morada offers this. And, again, the food is AMAZING.
Speaking of which, La Morada serves authentic, fresh Oaxacan dishes. One thing I love about La Morada is that they have both small and individually-priced items on their menu as well as full-blown feast-level meals. I almost always end up getting a tamale de pollo and a sope de chorizo. This is partly because I am a creature of habit and partly because I never remember to save my appetite. I also hate choosing between things I love, so…I don’t! But I’ve had the chance to taste their moles, which are delicious and pretty much legendary–in fact, check out this NYT article and you’ll see what I mean: “Opening Oaxaca to the World.”
Their guacamole is also wonderful–so creamy and flavorful. And guacamole is a really fun thing to introduce kids to. From your table at La Morada, you can see the avocados tumbling out of an array of molcajetes, waiting to be transformed into guac at any moment. It would make for a cool opportunity to help your child understand what guacamole is made from and how.
Some great books to bring along and read with your child on a visit to La Morada would be…
“Just a Minute,” in which a clever Mexican grandmother staves off death (Señor Calavera) by asking for just a few more minutes while she prepares a feast for her birthday party, (or stay at home and make this recipe, inspired by the book!),
“Too Many Tamales,” in which a precious ring gets lost somewhere inside one of many many tamales at a family Christmas gathering,
“Gracias Thanks,” in which a little boy considers all that he is thankful for in his life,
And “Chato’s Kitchen,” in which a sly cat prepares to have a mouse family over for dinner (literally), only to be thwarted in the end.