Good mole is cloaked in secrecy.
This is especially true of mole negro, the chocolatey, rich Oaxacan sauce that gets its smoky-sweet complexity from the aromatic herb hoja santa. Misael Dominguez makes the best mole negro I’ve had: spicy with hints of licorice and cacao. Dominguez was a founding member and manager of Ballard’s La Carta de Oaxaca before opening his own restaurant, La Cocina Oaxaqueña, three years ago on Capitol Hill.
There, he and his wife, Ernestina, spend hours perfecting each batch, which tastes heavenly sealed into layers of moist, sweet masa and tender pork for the banana-leaf-wrapped tamales de mole ($8.95). Dominguez won’t reveal his recipe, but we know he travels to his native Villa de Etla in northwestern Oaxaca for ingredients. Shhh, we won’t tell. Capitol Hill, 1216 Pine St.; 206.623.8226.