Locals Only: Guelaguetza Co-Owner and City Planning Commissioner Bricia Lopez Shares Her LA Favorites

Photo: Omar Alonso for Oaxacking

Bricia Lopez may have left Oaxaca at the young age of 10, but Oaxaca has never left her. Years after her departure from the culturally diverse state of Mexico to Los Angeles, Lopez has held tightly to her roots and has become a strong voice for Oaxacan culture in L.A. Lopez is co-owner of Guelaguetza, the restaurant her father opened in 1994 and one of the most popular Mexican restaurants in the city. Guelaguetza has received praise from locals and famous alike including Cristela Alonzo and L.A. Times Food Critic Jonathan Gold, who endearingly calls her “Oaxacan Princess.” Along with her siblings, Lopez continues the cultural legacy her father began, making palates happy through traditional plates like mole and tlayudas as well as mezcal– her favorite.

A businesswoman and entrepreneur, Lopez’s passion for food and culture has made her one of the most prominent figures in the L.A. food scene by her own right. Outside of her restaurant, Lopez’s efforts to celebrate Mexico’s cuisine include being a founding member of The Taste of Mexico Association. But she hasn’t stopped there. Lopez has also been a spokeswoman for immigrant issues, serves as L.A.’s City Planning Commissioner and even has her own podcast on bicultural parenting.

We caught up with the busy bee to find out where you need to eat and hang out in L.A.


Tell us, what do you do?
My siblings and I run Guelaguetza Restaurant in Los Angeles. I also co-host a weekly podcast (Super Mamas) with my sister where we talk about our experiences as working moms as well as the struggle of keeping both cultural identities alive with our children.

Our restaurant also has three other arms to the business: catering, online mole sales and a michelada mix we distribute in local grocers. My brother launched the Michelada mix two years ago and the first Miche Mobil rolled out in the streets of L.A. last year. It’s the first and only VW [Volkswagen] bus that has micheladas and beers on tap.

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I know, it seems like a lot, but working with our family makes everything fun and exciting for all of us. We are all in on this together.

You are L.A.’s City Planning Commissioner; does your entrepreneurial background give you a different take on this position? Does city panning and food connect for you in any way?
I was appointed as a city planning commissioner by the Mayor in 2014. I love serving this city. I believe that our lifestyle always has an effect on any position we get involved with. I look at every case individually because they are all different. They all affect the community in a different way.

How does L.A. inspire the work you do?
L.A. is part of who I am. There is no greater feeling that to see L.A.’s diversity reflected in our customers. I truly believe that L.A. is the future of the world. The micro communities that exist here are incredibly diverse. You can find some of the best Japanese Food, Korean food, Ethiopean, Italian, and Oaxacan all within a 10 mile radius. The people who live here and the restaurants that have set roots here inspire me to be better at what I do everyday.

Photo via The NormandyClub
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Describe the ideal night out in L.A.
The ideal night begins the first nights of summer when the sun begins setting at 7pm and the warm soft wind becomes your jacket. I would grab a drink anywhere where there is a patio and watch the sunset. I personally like the Ace Hotel’s bar downtown. Afterwards, I would head to Baco Mercat for a crisp dinner on the patio and finish the night off with a craft cocktail at the Normandie club in Koreatown. (Of course, I would take a Lyft in between places.)

What local bands/DJs should we have in our radar right now? Why?
La Santa Cecilia, Apoco No!, Mambo Swing, and Metralleta de Oro DJ collective.

What are the best venues for live music?
I LOVE The Wiltern, The Masonic Lodge inside The Hollywood Forever Cemetery and The Greek Theater.

What are the best venues to go out dancing?
La Cita, downtown, La Floridita in Hollywood (but be ready to be intimidated by hard core salsa dancers) and La Descarga (On a weekday, good luck finding dancing space on a weekend.)

What are your favorite bars?
The Varnish, Normandie Club, No Vacancy, Walker Inn.

Photo via The Varnish
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Best spot to get hangover food?

Go-to restaurant?
Guelaguetza, Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong, and Beverly Soon Tofu House.

Hidden Gem?
Little Jewel of New Orleans.

Photo via Guelaguetza
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Most inspiring person?
Mayor Garcetti.

Favorite local gallery/museum?

Favorite local artist?

Anything else you’d like to share?
Eat Mole, Drink Micheladas and watch your life change 🙂