Skip the pancakes. You should be making these memelas for breakfast


The idea of making tortillas at home might seem daunting, says Bricia Lopez, a second-generation co-owner, along with her siblings, of L.A. Oaxacan institution Guelaguetza. But “I think sometimes people will spend more time making pancakes in the morning than to make a tortilla, which can come together very easily.”

Even easier than making tortillas at home are memelas, slightly thicker than tortillas and pinched around the edges.

“I moved to L.A. when I was 10 years old; that was my breakfast for the first 10 years of my life,” says Lopez, whose most recent cookbook is “Asada: The Art of Mexican Grilling.” “They are the thing you eat for breakfast in Oaxaca, 365 days of the year.”

VIDEO | 11:55
Warm breakfast memelas with Guelaguetza’s Bricia Lopez

The warm memelas are smeared with aciento, which is made with pork fat, and topped with refried black bean puree scented with avocado leaf and then Oaxacan string cheese.

“It’s just so ingrained in who I am that, you know, now that I’m a grown woman, I just forget how special that is,” Lopez said. “I want my son to eat that again. I want to re-create that at home. ... It’s a part of the Oaxacan culture.”

In “backyards across Southern California, an asada represents more than just meat,” say Bricia Lopez in the cookbook “Asada.” “It means family, friends, memories, great music, cold drinks, good times and the community you’ve built.”

June 22, 2023

Memelas are an excellent introduction to masa, because you don’t have to make them as thin as tortillas. “Memelas can be a bit thicker,” Lopez says. “You want to be able to pinch them. You want to be able to still play around with them. Tortillas are so thin that if you pinched it, it will just break through. Memelas are a little more forgiving for those starting out with making any sort of masa vehicle.

“Start with great-quality masa and some water. Figure out the dough consistency. ... Start making them. I think it’s a beautiful thing.”

Where to try Guelaguetza

Food Bowl Night Market: See Bricia Lopez on the L.A. Times Food Stage at the opening night of Food Bowl’s Night Market, Paramount Pictures Studios Backlot, 5555 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, on Sept. 22. Doors open at 8 p.m.,

Guelaguetza, 3014 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles,


Bricia Lopez's Black Bean and Oaxacan Cheese Memelas

Time1 hour 30 minutes
YieldsMakes about 10 memelas

Bricia Lopez's Refried Black Bean Puree

Time1 hour 30 minutes
YieldsMakes 4 1/2 cups