Historically, Olvera Street is in the oldest part of Downtown Los Angeles. Founded by Spanish settlers, Olvera Street was part of the early stages of the development of Los Angeles. Ironically, Olvera Street is located in Chinatown. We are talking pre Mexican American War and Gold Rush days. That is a lot of history that belongs to this little street. With the Latino centered community came a great number of restaurants. One restaurant I visited while checking out Olvera Street was La Golondrina Mexicana Cafe. Built around 1857, La Golondrina is the oldest firebrick building in Los Angeles! Originally intended as a house, in 1930, it became the first Mexican restaurant in Los Angels and possibly America. With this much history, I was excited to give it a try.
The chips and salsa were plenty. They kept adding more and more as we devoured the chips. In hind sight, we probably shouldn’t have eaten so many chips because we were so full before our entrees came out. They weren’t the best chips or the freshest salsa, but they were addicting. If you want the good stuff, order their freshly made guacamole — it was as simple and authentic as you can get it. I realized that my guacamole has too much lime juice in it. All in all though, it wasn’t a bad start.
I was really disappointed at the chicken flautas. I once ordered chicken flautas at a random Mexican restaurant and thought those were really authentic. It had a crispy exterior with good chunks of chicken inside. The flautas at La Golondrina really upset me. I was expecting the real deal, and why wouldn’t I? Literally, the flautas looked and tasted like the taquitos from 7-11. They came out all fanicly cut in half, but they easily could have been from Costco. The exterior wasn’t crunchy, nor was it even corn tortilla. It was just a doughy exterior with some kind of seasoned chicken filling. Sorry to say, but these were not flautas.
I did enjoy the chicken enchilada de mole. There were two chicken enchiladas drenched in a pool of mole. The mole was sweeter than most, but the flavors were rich and complex. At first bite, it was hot and burned my tongue. As the mole cooled off, the flavors were quiet nice. The side of rice helped neutralize the flavors. If the mole was less sweet and more earthy, it would have been a perfect sauce. Nonetheless, La Golondrina is known for their mole and is a good dish to try. If you are a fan of mole, you must order a dish with it.
It was a fun experience. Sitting outside in the middle of Olvera Street and in the oldest building in Los Angeles, it was a great historical outing. What can be better than hanging out with friends and family, drinking margaritas and sangria, and eating great Mexican food? Nothing. The experience was wonderful. Even the singers came around our table and serenaded us with his guitar. The experience was as authentic as can be and we owe it all to the historical genuineness of it all. With history and old buildings also come myths and stories. I was told during my dinner conversation that the building is supposedly haunted. I am sure it is all a myth, but there have been sightings of a lady in white on the second floor window. It did used to be a house, and the old bedrooms are now offices. There has to be some kind of creepy factor when you are talking about the oldest building in Los Angeles. Creeped out only slightly, I was still glad it was daylight out. Sunset hit, and we all went home.