Global Diner: Tlayudas – Pizza, Oaxacan-Style

tlayudasPizza in Orange County knows no bounds—the billowy flatbreads of Little Arabia and the Argentine-style pies shaped by years of cross-cultural immigration. And consider the Oaxacan tlayuda, a pizza not by birth but by adoption: ribbons of Oaxacan cheese, fatty beans, avocado slices, tomato, and a variety of meats splayed over an ultra-thin, party-size tortilla.

On your first few visits to Casa Oaxaca, it’s almost impossible to move beyond the moles. They’re local treasures, as vivid and complex as the dining room’s riot of color. But you owe it to yourself to try the tlayuda. It feeds at least three: a massive round of masa slicked with beans, a blizzard of stringy cheese, slices of tomato and avocado, and a trio of meats. There are stubby spheres of chorizo; a sheet of tasajo, thinly sliced air-dried beef branded by the grill; and a hunk of ruddy cecina, similarly air-dried pork stained the color of achiote.

El Fortin’s tlayuda is all about the cracker-like crunch. The masa is thin and a tiny bit brittle, like the charred edges of your favorite pizza crust. You can choose between chorizo or cecina, or you can upgrade to all of El Fortin’s meats.

O.C.’s Oaxacan restaurants grow fewer by the day. But at Gabbi’s Mexican Kitchen, you can try some of the most inventive versions of the tlayuda’s linguistic cousin—the tlacoyo. Part tlayuda, part huarache, it’s an oblong mass of masa that satisfi es as an appetizer or entrée. Choose one smeared with umami-rich huitlacoche or a distinctly Californian mashup of avocado and grapefruit.

Casa Oaxaca

3317 W. First St. Santa Ana

El Fortin
700 E. Commonwealth Ave., Fullerton

Gabbi’s Mexican Kitchen
141 S. Glassell Ave., Orange

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