No. 96, Clayuda at El Fortin

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Photo by Das Ubergeek
Hey, kids: guess what time is it? It's time to restart that Long March known as 100 Favorite Dishes (INSERT YEAR). YEAH!!!

Hey, don't ding us for listicles: Weekly DataLab studies show ustedes love this gimmick, launched in honor of our coming Best Of issue. Besides, it is rather fun to do this for us Forkers--an opportunity to highlight dishes from restaurants we'll never full review, or secrets from old standbys. Anyhoo, let the march begin...

Dave and I have a big personal issue: he doesn't care for El Fortín, while I love it. He doesn't care that El Fortín was the first Oaxacan restaurant in Orange County, that their breakfasts are awesome--he's an El Moctezuma guy. And the big fight goes down to clayudas: he can't stand El Fortín's version, while I love them.

See also:

How can you not love it? The gigantic landscape of masa? The smear of black bean paste? The savannah of quesillo? The choice of chorizo or cecina for meat? Their black mole salsa as a dipping agent. So the repollo is a bit pointless, but not the crispiness, its utilitarian nature, its foolproof way to introduce folks to the ways of the Oaxacan.

And, actually, Dave and I are both wrong: the best Oaxacan restaurant in OC is Casa Oaxaca--but when I go there, it's for the mole. And that's another post...

The list:

97. Lunch Buffet at Dosa Express
98. The Meats at Darya in Orange
99. Panocha at Taquería Zamora
100. Bean-and-Cheese Burrito from Del Taco

They've always served morning meals but sometime in the past couple of years, they snuck in the most deceptively brilliant breakfast platter in la naranja: black beans covered lightly in cotija, rice, and fried quesillo smothered in a salsa.

That's it. None of the complexity of their moles, or the Baroque excess of a tlayuda. But this platter is spectacular because of its simplicity. While the beans and rice are as good as they can get, the fried quesillo is as wondrous as Monte Alban: the milky native fromage of Oaxaca now with a light crust, bobbing in tomato salsa that slowly spreads its heat. Coupled with their handmade tortillas, as large as hubcaps, and at a preposterous seven bucks, El Fortín's desayuno of champions is bueno--and sometimes, brevity is all that's needed to describe brilliance.

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Location Info

El Fortin

700 E. Commonwealth Ave., Fullerton, CA

Category: Restaurant


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36 comments
vegandawg23
vegandawg23 topcommenter

Ate some kinda cricket quesadilla here once. Was good. 

Cuppa Joe Martínez Morín
Cuppa Joe Martínez Morín

Yes, I had already read the comment. That's like people from Los Feliz who say they're from Los Feliz and the "correct" pronunciation is "Loz Feeliz" because they've always pronounced it that way growing up. Again, the etymology of the word points to the Nahuatl, which is "tlayuda." Just as tlacuache (opossum) is corrupted to "tacuache" by my cholo friends in California, so is tlayuda corrupted to "clayuda" by people everywhere. I know it's difficult to let go of a pronunciation when one is used to it. I noticed a lot of people also pronounce mockingbird incorrectly. It's zenzontle, but that is very difficult, so people have corrupted it to "sinsonte" and now even some Spanish dictionaries list it as "sinsonte." But as a language purist, I prefer to keep the Nahuatl spelling and still say zenzontle, just like my father taught me. But that's just me. Pronounce it how you like; it still tastes the same. Cheers :)

Ask a Mexican
Ask a Mexican

Never claimed to be an academic—and read what Erk says.

Pablo DiMaria
Pablo DiMaria

I have never herd of Tlayuda/Clayuda before in my life. They look good, though. Please don't judge this Chicano, but I didn't even know what Mole was until I married my wife. The Southern Part of Mexico has some delicious food.

Will Webb
Will Webb

Tlayudas con 'asiento' oh si! directo al corazón!

Angie Cortes
Angie Cortes

I ALWAYS make it a point to stop at El Fortin when going back "home" to visit friends and family. LOVE that place and can't find anything like it in Sacramento. :(

Erk Audelo Leon
Erk Audelo Leon

Esto va desde siempre, en la parte central de Oaxaca le llamamos Clayudas, incluso en los mercados lo ves escrito de esa manera. En la actualidad porsupuesto que ha cambiado y todo mundo quiere llamarle Tlayuda, pero en realidad la forma correcta de escribirlo o decirlo es lo de menos, lo que importa es como se hace agua la boca cuando te ponen una clayuda/tlayuda enfrente, con quesillo, frijoles molidos, repollo, y tasajo mmmmmm y para finalizar, una nieve de leche quemada, tuna, y limón, la combinación perfecta!~

Janis E Martinez
Janis E Martinez

This is my mom's favorite spot and dish so it is mom approved!

Oli Magui Rios
Oli Magui Rios

Tlayuda is spelled both ways by oaxacans from different regions. And considering most languages spoken in oaxcan are not originally a written language, who's to say its not spelled correctly?!

Oli Magui Rios
Oli Magui Rios

As long as my tlayuda has Quesillo, and the tlayuda is not too stale... I'm a happy camper! Looks delish!

Nacho Sandoval
Nacho Sandoval

I agree with you. A lot of Oaxacan food is delicious but their main ingredients are usually cheese and lard, commonly reffered to as 'sentado de puerco.'

Nacho Sandoval
Nacho Sandoval

Being the academic that Gustavo is I would expect he would know that the correct spelling to this type of food is Tlayuda.

Cesar Jaime
Cesar Jaime

Gabachos y pochos need to eat stuff and stop asking for "carni sada tacos with sour cream and guac"

Gomez Juan
Gomez Juan

it's not "Clayuda"...I know my state Oaxaca & we call them Tlayudas with "T"as tango...don't forget los chapulines too!!

Will Webb
Will Webb

mi abuela nació en Oaxaca, y viaje muchas veces para allá... siempre las conocimos como Tlayudas... en efecto, el uso común de palabras de manera incorrecta parece ser justificación para cambiarlo, otro gran ejemplo de la descomposición de la correcta ortografía es 'posole' y no pozole... que se ve tantísimo en este lado norte de la frontera...

Erk Audelo Leon
Erk Audelo Leon

En Oaxaca es más usado "Clayuda", aunque se discute que Tlayuda es lo correcto, pero no podrán cambiar generaciones enteras que usan la palabra "Clayuda", ya es muy tarde "Real Academia Española" para poder cambiar nuestros nombres. Eso de cambiarle el nombre es por las reglas de la REA, pero para nosotros los Oaxaqueños siempre será "Clayuda". No conozco Oaxaqueños en gran cantidad que le llamen "Tlayuda" a las "Clayudas".

Erk Audelo Leon
Erk Audelo Leon

Tlayuda o Clayuda, se usa por igual en Oaxaca. No sé cuál sea lo correcto, pero lo único que sé es que están mucho mejor que cualquier pizza que hayas probado, y su comparación es por la forma de ambas. Mmmmmmmmmmmmm Clayuda/Tlayuda!!! Si la acompañamos con una jicara de Tejate, mmmmmmmm, delicioso!!

Martha Arciniega Schiller
Martha Arciniega Schiller

This south Texas Mexi is learning so much in regards to food. No such type thing in south Texas. I've never heard of this type food either. Most of the food presented must strictly be Cali Mexi food. Again...what's with all the fatty food? Us Mexi's need to live long lives and this food is killing us.

Nef Duran
Nef Duran

I could go for one right now.

Mantonat
Mantonat topcommenter

We have some great Mexican restaurants in Denver, but I'm envious because we're sorely lacking in Oaxacan. That clayuda looks amazing!

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