Handmade corn tortillas. That is the first thing you need to know about Guisados.
The second is that Guisados Tacos on Sunset Blvd. in Echo Park is the second location – the original being in Boyle Heights, and a 3rd is planned for downtown. We went the first weekend after the store’s opening on January 2nd and the line was out the door. We waited in line with other bearded and mustachioed Angelenos for about 10-15 minutes. We ordered at the counter and sat ourselves outside on the back patio. There are plenty of tables indoors and outdoors, and a tiny parking lot (which was full when we went at 8pm on a Saturday night – so probably plan on street parking).
I had 4 tacos. Full disclosure: I can eat a lot (see here), and 4 tacos filled me up. A woman who stood behind us in line, who seemed to be a regular at the Boyle Heights location said that she and her husband top out at 3 tacos each, so take that as you will. The menu consists of about 15 options to choose from separated into 5 categories (steak, chicken, pork, fish, and vegetarian). If you don’t know where to start, you can get the sampler plate of 6 mini tacos (first 6 flavors on the menu).
But back to those handmade corn tortillas. Oh man, they were incredible: thick and hearty, and rather than being merely vessels for the taco contents, they were definitely the feature. You can watch them being hand pressed at the front while you wait in line.
Now to the tacos. The aforementioned Guisado aficionado standing in line behind me suggested I get the Tinga de Pollo (Chicken in Chipotle Tomato Sauce) which was pretty good. It was spicy and smoky, but I’m not totally a chicken guy. So it was my least favorite of the four (but it was still very good). And that woman swore by it, so maybe if chicken is totally your thing, then the Tinga is for you.
I also had the Chuleta en Salsa Verde which had big, delicious chunks of pork in a tangy green salsa (probably my favorite); the Bistek en Salsa Rojo which was beef in a bold, spicy red sauce (a very close runner-up); and the Cochinita Pibil – shredded pork in a spicy habanero sauce with pickled onions on black beans. A note on that last one: you can choose on a scale of 1-10 how spicy you want the Cochinita Pibil. I asked for middle of the road, which was still pretty spicy. Proceed with caution.
- I cannot offer skateboard directions. Apologies.
- There was a lot of plaid and facial hair. Plan accordingly.
- Rachel had the sampler plate, and though it was a great way to try a little of everything, the ratios were a little off. For instance, her Cochinita Pibil was WAY hotter than my full size one. Also, I don’t think you get the full experience of those tortillas with the mini tacos.
- Pricing: Tacos are $2.50 a piece and drinks are $2-$3. You can get a pretty great meal for about 10 bucks.
- For next time: going to try the fish tacos
- The east side is nothing if not taco heaven. That being said, I would be hard pressed to remember the last time a taco made as strong of an impression on me.
Stay tuned for Stu’s take on Guisados! Happy Chewing!