If you happen to be driving away from Tucker toward Lilburn on Lawrenceville Highway—or even if you’re not, even if you’re doing something else entirely on the other side of town—you should be headed for the Chevron station just past the Checkers, the one with the coin laundry next to the Express Mart behind the pumps. That’s the easiest way to locate one of the finest incarnations of a hard-to-pronounce delicacy most commonly found 1,961 miles away, in Oaxaca, Mexico.
On the other side of the Express Mart is a sign far smaller than the one advertising the laundromat, onto which most of an improbably long name is crammed: Taqueria Oaxaqueña de la Guelaguetza. Inside, you’ll find about as many square feet as letters in the restaurant’s name. “I’d like to open something bigger—but not too big,” says Alfredo Aveja, co-owner of the nine-year-old, five-table gem. “I think you lose quality in a bigger restaurant.” The menu, up on the wall above the cash register, promises tacos and gorditas, tortas and tamales, huaraches and sopes. But that’s not why you’re here. You might not even know what it is or how to say it, but you’re here for the tlayudas. (Try this: tla-U-duh.)
To the uninitiated, a tlayuda is sort of a cross between a pizza, a flatbread, and—I mean this with reverence—a seven-layer dip. It starts with a crackly, ethereally thin yet freakishly sturdy corn tortilla that’s bigger than a vinyl record. That tortilla cloud somehow holds up to the challenge of the many layers that follow: an earthy paste of mashed pinto beans, smoky meat (I favor the pastor), lettuce, tomatoes, roasted jalapeños, avocado, radish, and an extra-milky blend of queso fresco and quesillo. Before the tlayuda descends onto your table, raid the salsa bar (the peanut salsa will blow your mind). After it arrives, dig in by breaking off a piece with the help of a spoon.
Then, order another to take home—because as much as you won’t want to drive back to Tucker the next day, you will want another tlayuda. But hey, if you do make the trek two days running, at least you can fill up on gas right out front.
6310 Lawrenceville Highway, Tucker, 770-940-2284 (erratic hours; call first)
This article appears in our October 2019 issue.