enmoladas at malinche mexican culinary experience in ellisville photo by christina musgrave

4 St. Louis restaurants serving outstanding Mexican mole dishes

Mole keeps you on your toes. You may think you’ve finally grasped the essence of this emblematic and prized Mexican staple, only to encounter a new iteration that challenges your assumptions. But that’s the beauty of this dish – “mole” simply comes from the Nahuatl word for “sauce,” hinting at its infinite variations. Nearly every region of Mexico boasts a unique mole experience, but one constant remains: Every simmering pot is a labor of love, creating a symphony of flavors that’s greater than the sum of its parts. If you’re craving a culinary adventure through Mexico without leaving town, you’re in luck. These four restaurants serve some of the best mole we’ve found in St. Louis while also capturing the range of what this versatile dish can be. 


malinche co-owner angel jiménez-gutiérrez and his mother, head chef maría gutiérrez molina // photo by christina musgrave


Enmoladas | Malinche Mexican Culinary Experience
Tucked away behind the stylish, intimate dining room at Malinche in Ellisville lies a kitchen crafting small plates that are based on traditional recipes but presented with stunning, modern flair. The signature enmoladas feature house-made corn tortillas cradling moist, shredded chicken, bathed in a delicate mole poblano made with mulato chiles, which are ripened, dried and roasted poblanos with notes of cherry, chocolate and tobacco. Each bite offers textural contrast: The crispness of the tortilla yields to the silky mole, punctuated by snappy onions, tender chicken and tart housemade Mexican crema. The enmoladas are accompanied by a comforting arroz rojo, Mexican red rice. Fluffy, buttery and seasoned to perfection, the rice has a vibrant tomato broth base and is dotted with peas, carrots and potatoes. Malinche’s rotating menu and special events offer a glimpse into the vast world of mole. We were fortunate enough to sample their orange-hued almond mole (mole almendrado), built on a base of almonds and tomatoes, and green mole, a fragrant blend of pepitas and herbs. Choosing a favorite proved an impossible task. A visit to Malinche isn’t just a meal – it’s an education in the bounties of Mexican gastronomy. 
15939 Manchester Road, Ellisville, 636.220.8514, malinchestl.com

Mole de Olla | Mi Tierra Bonita Mexican Restaurant
This dish is another testament to mole’s versatility. While some may argue its place in the mole pantheon, one spoonful of this Michoacan-style mole de olla will silence all doubts. Mi Tierra Bonita’s take on this slow-cooked stew is a lip-smacking masterpiece. Chucks of beef simmer in a guajillo chile broth for hours until tender but firm. Green calabaza (a zucchini-like squash), potato and corn on the cob join in, each imbued with the deep flavors of the long simmer. The result is an explosion of flavor: meatiness, warming spices and earthy vegetable notes delivered in a robust, hearty broth. While the exact recipe remains a closely guarded family secret, the process of making mole de olla is generally similar to pozole (a meaty hominy stew) in its use of reconstituted and blended dried chiles. However, the flavor profile diverges – it is more intense and savory when compared to the brightness of pozole. 
3203 Collinsville Road, Fairmont City, Illinois, 618.271.7311, Facebook: Mi Tierra Bonita


malinche head chef maría gutiérrez molina // photo by christina musgrave


Mole Negro | La Oaxaqueña
For a taste of Oaxaca’s culinary heritage, look no further than La Oaxaqueña in Mehlville. Helmed by Yolanda Soriano, this restaurant is a love letter to what is widely considered Mexico’s gastronomical capital. The mole negro is a velvety, sweet, smoky black mole, made entirely in-house, clinging to pulled chicken breast. Ancho chiles and a touch of guajillo form the base, enriched with Oaxacan chocolate, peanuts, sesame seeds, pecans, pepitas, toasted chile seeds, raisins and aromatic herbs. The mole negro is one of two moles that can be ordered with the mole con pollo (chicken mole, simply named “mole” on the menu). The dish is accompanied by arroz rojo cooked in a rich chicken and tomato broth, and warm corn tortillas, made by hand from fresh masa ground in-house. While the mole negro is the most popular, La Oaxaqueña also offers mole rojo; unlike its counterpart, this red mole emphasizes guajillo chiles, creating a mole that is slightly more fiery and tart, and less sweet. For those seeking to bring the flavors of La Oaxaqueña home, they also sell artisanal mole pastes, both rojo and negro, which are handmade in Oaxaca with a metate (traditional grinding stone).
2925 Lemay Ferry Road, St. Louis, 314.200.8212, laoaxaquenastl.com

Relleno Negro | El Molino del Sureste
For a taste of the Yucatan, head to Southampton’s El Molino del Sureste, which opened in September 2023. A whole section of the menu here is dedicated to moles and pipianes (sauces thickened with seeds and nuts), but the undisputed star is the relleno negro with chilmole (a Yucatecan black mole). Steeped in tradition, this dish is deeply personal to Alex and Jeff Henry, the brothers who co-own El Molino, and the restaurant’s relleno negro is inspired by a family recipe. Deeply colored from ancho chile and chile de arbol that are roasted until they’re black, the chilmole is accented with black pepper and allspice and lightly thickened with masa. But the secret weapon is the addition of vinegar. This unexpected tang cuts through the intense umami, resulting in a mouthwatering sensation reminiscent of Worcestershire sauce. Nestled within is the relleno negro, ground pork wrapped around a hard boiled egg. Roasted turkey, onions and Anaheim peppers complete the stunning presentation. The cayos en mole blanco, a riff on traditional white mole, is another must-try, perfect for those seeking an experience that is gentler on the palate but equally as delicious. The blend of apples, pears, raisins, sunflower seeds and pepitas is sweet and nutty, and is topped off with perfectly seared scallops and fennel.
5005-5007 S. Kingshighway Blvd., St. Louis, 314.925.8431, elmolinostl.com