Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Here Mole, Gone Tomorrow

Posted By on Wed, Jan 30, 2008 at 11:31 AM

It is with great sadness that I report the closing of El Tejado on Charlotte Pike. The short-lived restaurant, which was one of my first reviews, stole my heart with its menu of Oaxacan specialties—especially the deep, rich mole, redolent with chiles, chocolate, fruit, nuts and dozens of other ingredients.

The allure of El Tejado was its bold deviation from the standard Tex-Mex of so many local Mexican restaurants. With unusual dishes such as Oaxacan noodle soup, grilled cactus and an unnerving item translated as “kills your mother-in-law,” El Tejado, a.k.a. The Tile Roof, earned a loyal—but apparently not lucrative enough—following of adventurous diners and homesick Oaxacans, who gathered there for music and dancing. During El Tejado's year of operation, owner Ivette Vutron eventually migrated toward gringo-friendly formulas, which disappointed many original fans without drawing in a substantial new audience. Vutron closed El Tejado this month, but her neighboring Mexican grocery store, La Guelaguetza, remains open for business.

For anyone missing the complex layering of El Tejado's homemade mole, there is some good news. In the last year, Nashville has welcomed at least three new restaurants offering homemade versions of the Southern Mexican delicacy. We've reviewed Rosario's in Edgehill Village and Sol on Main Street in Franklin, both of which deliver admirable interpretations of the traditional sauce. More recently, Lime opened on Division, with a mole that embellishes tamales de Oaxaca and a hearty tortilla soup. We'll bring you more on Lime in the near future.

If you've got other favorite moles, please post them to Bites. In the meantime, El Tejado, may you rest in peace.

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