Food & Drink

Review: La Calle Extends Fells Point’s Taco Row

Mole is at the heart of the menu at the Mexican restaurant—which is owned and operated by brothers who share recipes from their native Puebla.
The pollo con mole with panela cheese. —Photography by Justin Tsucalas

The environs of Broadway and Eastern in Fells Point are the epicenter of tacos in Baltimore, with three classic taquerías, one taco truck, and a taquería that’s also a high-production tortilleria all within a few hundred yards of each other.

Head a little further down Broadway, though, and you’ll find a new, more formal Mexican restaurant, where you can not only get stellar tacos, but a more expansive menu, a full cocktail bar with a happy hour—and a weekend brunch that features tres leches brioche French toast, steak and eggs with poblano chimichurri, and mezcal espresso martinis.

La Calle, which means “the street” in Spanish, is not so much a new restaurant as a relocated one; it first opened downtown in 2018, closed four years later—another casualty of the pandemic—and moved to Fells last summer.

Originally opened by the four Sandoval brothers—Luis, Agustin, Odilon, and Valentino—La Calle is now owned and operated by just Luis and Agustin, as Odilon moved to Philadelphia to open a Mexican pizzeria and Valentino opened one of those taquerías on Eastern, Bmore Taquería.

The Sandovals are from Puebla, a city southeast of Mexico City with a vibrant culinary tradition. Puebla is the home of tacos árabes (tacos al pastor on flour tortillas); chiles en nogada, considered Mexico’s national dish; and mole poblano, a rich, brick-colored sauce made of ancho chiles and chocolate, among many ingredients.

Mole is at the heart of La Calle’s menu: It smothers the enchiladas and the chilaquiles, forms the base of the pollo con mole, where roast chicken is perched atop panela cheese and a vast circle of mole, and is brushed across both the duck confit and the short-rib tacos.

“It’s been with us for two generations,” says Luis Sandoval of the mole recipe. “There’s over 30 ingredients in that sauce,” he says. “If you talk to someone from Oaxaca, they’re gonna say that they have the best mole. For us, mole poblano is the best.”

La Calle’s white-walled, minimalist dining room is a sanctuary compared to the bars lining the nearby waterfront, with service more suggestive of a white-tablecloth-dining establishment than a taquería.

And that pollo con mole looks as good as it tastes, with micro-cilantro adorning the artfully constructed chicken and the accompanying red rice bestowed in a pretty white bowl. The ceviches are also first-rate and gorgeous, particularly an aquachile of raw fluke, a perfect brunoise of mango, batards of crunchy jicama, and slivers of red onion in a golden pool of passion fruit sauce that is somehow both tart and soothing.

Chef Miguel A. Hernandez took over the stoves at the original La Calle when Valentino left and added many of the dishes, including that aquachile, a whole branzino with pipian sauce, and cochinita pibil, a classic dish of slow-roasted, citrus-marinated pork. Hernandez is family, too; he’s a cousin of the Sandoval brothers and is also from Puebla.

The mole, says Hernadez, has always been on the menu—as is fitting of such a glorious, generational recipe.


LA CALLE: 623 S. Broadway, Fells Point. 443-835- 2215. HOURS: Mon.-Thurs. 4-10 p.m.; Fri. 4-10:30 p.m.; Sat. 11 a.m.-3 p.m., 4-10:30 p.m.; Sun. 11-3 p.m., 4-9 p.m. PRICES: Starters: $6-20; ceviches, tacos, and entrees: $15-35 (plato placero: $110); desserts: $10