When friends from Sweden visited recently, they asked where to get great tacos. The places I knew about were all on the east side or up near Silver Lake or in the valley. I mean, what?!?! No place to get good tacos on the west side of L.A.? So I took them for Korean tacos at the Alibi room.
On Monday the Uber Chef called and asked if I wanted to go get tacos. What he meant was: are you game to drive to the east side?
On the way we talked about an article I’d edited recently that threw around terms like “umami” and “molecular gastronomy.” The Uber Chef was rolling his eyes within seconds.
“Is it so hard for people just cook food that tastes good?” said Chef. (Except he added the f-word a few times.) Chef’s favorite tirade is about chefs who over-think their food because what inevitably gets lost is the love.
We’d heard about Guisados a while ago from another chef friend who had gone into a little reverie as he talked about their freshly made tortillas. (In a review by Jonathan Gold, the owner said they’re never more than a half-hour old.)
Yes, the tortillas are awesome – thick slabs of soft cornmeal that hold together so you don’t need two. But it’s the fillings that put Guisado’s tacos over the top. I ordered the sampler and every single one was a 10. Full-flavored, delicious, not too spicy (there’s haberno salsa for that).
“I like that all their fillings are braised,” said the Uber Chef, nodding his approval.
His favorite was the Chicarron. “How exactly do you do that?” I’d asked at the counter, imagining the crispy dried pork chips somehow chopped up in a taco.
“It’s not what you think,” she said, “but some people don’t like the texture.” If gooey, chewy, fatty, porky bits are your thing, you’ll like the texture.
My favorite surprised me in its simplicity. I thought I’d like the Chicarron best, or the Cochinitas Pibil (which I’ve written about before and learned to make from a chef in Mexico), but the Bistek en salsa rojo, layered with smoky chili flavor like the best moles, that stole my heart. I was sure I could taste the love.