Food & Drink

Tastes of Oaxaca

Alebrijes Oaxaca Kitchen food truck rolls into White Center 

By Naomi Tomky April 8, 2024

Alebrijes Oaxca Kitchen

Colorful strands of papel picado flutter above the new turquoise Alebrijes Oaxaca Kitchen food truck in White Center, as if flagging down bystanders to stop in for memelas, tlayudas, and masa-thickened mushroom soup.

Despite the similar name, the truck is not related to the Greenwood restaurant Alebrijes Kitchen, but it does come from the owners of a different local business. After more than a decade of importing the best ingredients from their home state of Oaxaca, Yesica Lopez and her mother, Concha Reyes, branched out from their White Center store, La Típica Oaxaqueña, to open the food truck. 

Customers, coming in to purchase the chiles, beans, and cheeses, often asked if they sold prepared foods. “I’ve always wanted to sell Oaxacan food anyway,” says Lopez. “To help spread our culture.”

While Seattle’s many taco trucks and Mexican restaurants serve a variety of regional cuisines, few places cook the hyperlocal Oaxacan flavors Lopez craved. Since opening in mid-February, the truck’s staples earned them regulars who come by for quesadillas filled with chorizo, memelas topped with cecina (red chile marinated pork), all made with big, flat tlayudas, costeño and criollo chilies, and quesillo (cheese) from the store.

On weekends, the menu expands to give regional Oaxacan cuisine a spotlight, with tamales dotted with leafy chepil; a particularly spicy mole from Oaxaca’s Mixtec region (as is Lopez herself) that forgoes chocolate and uses toasted, not fried chiles and spices; and savory atoles.

Plenty of other area restaurants also offer champurrado and similar sweet, corn-thickened drinks called atoles, but only Alebrijes serves savory ones, like the atole de hongos (mushrooms), which takes its flavor from the dried epazote Lopez imports. “It’s a very special dish to me because my grandmother used to make it and I can’t go to a restaurant and order it,” she says. Her mother, who cooks for the truck, taught her to make it, and now it’s her favorite dish on the menu. “It solidifies the memory,” Lopez says. “Now I can show it to my kids.”

Left: a close-up of shredded meat being grilled at the Alebrijes Oaxacan Kitchen food truck, garnished with spices. Right: a plate of folded tortillas accompanied by cond

Left: A tlayuda with all the toppings. Right: Quesadillas with Oaxacan string cheese, served in homemade blue and yellow corn tortillas.

Photos courtesy of Alebrijes Oaxcan Kitchen

Currently, Alebrijes Oaxaca Kitchen is open Wednesday to Monday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., at 9633 16th Ave. SW.  As the weather warms up, Lopez hopes to open daily.

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