Angela Atenco Lopez, whose recipes from her native Puebla, Mexico wowed residents, food critics and celebrity chefs far and wide, has died.
Mrs. Lopez, the namesake of Angela’s Cafe’s two locations in East Boston, had been bravely battling cancer for several months according to her son Luis. She finally succumbed to the disease on Monday at the age of 76 years old.
Mrs. Lopez was born in the State of Puebla, Mexico and learned how to cook at a young age watching her mother make traditional Puebla recipes from scratch.
After years of guidance from her mother, Mrs. Lopez fell in love with the traditional culinary traditions of the Puebla region and perfected dishes like Mole Poblano, Pepian Rojo and Chilaquiles.
Mrs. Lopez opened her first restaurant at the age of twenty, realizing her dream to create an authentic experience of home-made dishes that followed in the footsteps of her mother.
After almost 50 years of professional cooking, Mrs. Lopez moved to Boston and joined her two sons, Luis and Joel, and opened Angela’s Cafe’s first location on the corner of Brooks and Lexington Streets in the mid-2000s.
The restaurant was an instant success and received widespread critical acclaim from Boston food critics.
Mrs. Lopez’s Mole Poblano, tacos and other traditional Puebla recipes consistently made “Best of Boston” lists in numerous magazines and her traditional guacamole received numerous awards over the years.
In 2013, Mrs. Lopez and her recipes gained national fame when the Food Network’s popular show, Diners, Drive Ins and Dives (Triple Ds), debuted its segment on Angela’s Cafe.
Host and celebrity chef Guy Fieri was beyond impressed by the Puebla/Mexican cuisine being served at Mrs. Lopez’s small corner restaurant on Eagle Hill.
On the show Mrs. Lopez dazzled Fieri with a traditional Puebla dish and staple among Mexican Food enthusiasts.
The entire segment focused on Mrs. Lopez’s Chilaquiles and the traditional Puebla dish did not disappoint.
Mrs. Lopez and her son, Luis, walked Fieri through preparing the dish’s important ‘green sauce’. The mother and son duo showed Fieri how, at Angela’s Cafe, nothing comes from a can.
After one bite Fieri was propelled into food ecstasy that only a dish like Angela’s Chilaquiles can cause.
“I’m coming back to get this tomorrow,” said Fieri of the dish.
Fieri was also impressed by how quick Mrs. Lopez made her famous homemade tortillas as well as Angela’s Cafe Pepian Rojo and Mole Poblano.
The Mole Poblano was something that has dazzled food enthusiasts since Angela’s Cafe opened.
Mrs. Lopez once said there are 50 to 60 ingredients in this sauce and among them are about 10 varieties of chili and the sauce usually takes her two days to make.
Capitalizing on her national fame Mrs. Lopez and her two sons opened Angela’s Cafe’s second location in Orient Heights on Bennington Street in 2016.
Fieri was so impressed the first time around with Angela’s Cafe that his show returned to the restaurant last year to film another segment that recently aired on the Food Network.
This time around Fieri and company focused on two recipes unique to Puebla, Chiles Rellenos and Huevos Rancheros.
Aside from being the culinary force behind Angela’s Cafe, Mrs. Lopez was a gracious host and made all her customers feel like family.
During dinner service Mrs. Lopez would come from the kitchen and greet her loyal customers, pinch the cheeks of their children, and, on many occasions, prepare a special homemade desert on the house.
In many way Mrs. Lopez was not only the matriarch of the Lopez Family but the matriarch of the East Boston community and she will be terribly missed by all.