Saturday, January 29, 2011

Guisados: A suave and saucy rejoinder to the grilled meat taco

Tacos are described on the blackboard menu at Guisados in Boyle Heights

A caramelized-around-the-edges al pastor taco from a pineapple-topped spit on the street, or a deeply beefy carne asada taco from Tacos El Poblano in Tijuana -- they're pretty much the platonic ideal of of street food, and the one single item that converted me from baconatarian to full-on carnivore back in 2001 or so. But guisados are another thing entirely -- they're slowly-cooked stews and braises, each with its own distinct character depending on the combination of spices, meats and vegetables. And guisados make just as wonderful a taco as grilled meats do, with a lot flavor possibilities.
mole and chorizo tacos, right, calabacita and chicken tinga, left
The owners of Cook's Tortas, who revolutionized the Mexican sandwich with their East L.A. shop, are at it again with Guisados, a deceptively simple taqueria on bustling Cesar Chavez Ave. in Boyle Heights.
With a tiled white counter and a blackboard describing the tacos, the set-up is similar to a Tijuana-style taqueria which concentrates on doing one thing extremely well.
The menu is succinct -- 10 or so taco fillings, tamales made with the fillings, freshly made aguas. If you're not sure which taco to try, get the taquito sampler -- they're not the rolled, fried kind but a sampler plate of mini-tacos of all the flavors.
chicken soup, left; jamaica/limon agua, right
Tacos range from calabacitas -- a slightly salty mixture of squash, corn and peppers topped with cheese -- to sweet, spicy chicken tinga with avocado, smoky chicken mole topped with pumpkin and sesame seeds -- to just fiery-enough bistec with salsa roja. After you order, the counter-man brings over an "amuse bouche" -- or a diverterse buca? -- of terrific sopa de pollo with chunks of queso slowly dissolving into a tangy broth. The tacos are about $2.50 each -- two are plenty for lunch -- and arrive plated on thick handmade corn tortillas. These aren't really curbside tacos, they're very saucy, so it's a good thing there's plenty of seating for a napkin and fork-intensive lunch.
To drink, there are aguas of lime, jamaica or horchata -- I recommend a Mexican Arnold Palmer with half lime, half jamaica.
Between Cook's Tortas, the family's new ceviche restaurant opening soon on Atlantic (440 S. Atlantic) and Guisados, Ricardo Diaz and his partners are launching a delicious new Mexican food dynasty on the Eastside.
2100 Cesar Chavez Ave.
(323) 264-7201

Guisados on Urbanspoon


Brenda said...

I want to try this place! Hey, quick question, how was your experience at District? I've been meaning to try it, passed by it yesterday, but online reviews are pretty bad. How was the service and prices?

Yumyumcha said...

Thanks for this! I've been there twice this week and am trying to bring a friend every week. This place needs to be known!

Juvie said...

Layne and I went for lunch today and loved it. Really good food, and they couldn't have been nicer or more gracious. I thought it was much, much better than Loteria Grill. Thanks for the tip!

Karen said...

Very cool! I will try this place next time i am there!

David Ng said...

Baconatarian? Does that mean you only eat bacon? Anyways, those tacos sure do look good.

I haven't even tried them and I'm converted.