Rocio's Mexican Kitchen, in Bell Gardens, may not have the huge menu and breadth of options of more established and well-known Oaxacan places, but owner and chef Rocio Camacho brings something equally as desirable to this tiny little restaurant. Her moles are paragons of the form, the dark mole Oaxaqueño gloriously silky and with a depth of flavor that's downright profound. It's a dish that might be cast in the starring role of some magical-realism novel, the dark sorcery used to seduce a young lover. And when you look beyond the expected and begin to sample some of Camacho's creations that aren't age-old recipes, you're rewarded with dishes such as the exuberantly yellow, buoyant, almost fluffy sauce made of squash blossoms that's served over a salmon filet, its taste just on the mysterious edge of floral and vegetal. There's no tequila, no live music and only six tables, but the food at Rocio's is so astonishingly good that you wouldn't notice anything else anyway.
Credit: Anne Fishbein