tacos

Guisados – Tortillas Make and Break it

by Franklin on October 7, 2013

There comes a time when your regular taco from the corner won’t do it. Just some regular asada with hot sauce and chopped onion and cilantro, all on a heated tortilla? Actually, that sounds pretty all right — but Guisados does something different. All of their ingredients are simmered and

With hortchata and jamaica in hand, we found a seat. As I patiently wait for our tacos, I notice the horchata isn’t just made from some boxed up syrup. It tasted like horchata, not sugary milk water. The very cinnamony, and quite refreshing taste of rice and nuts really shined through in this drink. The jamaica was good too, with a nice sweet and slightly tart taste. They were perfect as I await for my tacos.

Guisados are coveted as some of the best tacos in Los Angeles. I even received threatening emails saying Guisados is better than King Taco, saying “How can you say King Taco is the best? Have you even tried Guisados?” Thinking it was kind of weird, I didn’t really jump the gun on Guisados. It was more of a “I will go when I go” kind of thing. Honestly, the tacos were overrated. Not to say, the ingredients were the lesser or tasted worse. The ingredients were actually pretty good. It was the tortilla that killed it. Touted as having freshly made tortillas, I felt it hurt the operation. The sampler tacos were basically discs of under-cooked masa. Was this a tortilla, or a non-fried sope? The tortilla was quite thick, and folding it to eat the taco was impossible; it would break in half. I mean, just looking at the picture, you can see how thick this thing was. This was a disaster.

As far as the flavors, it was all great. The steak picado, bisteak en salsa roja, tinga (Tinga is made with shredded chicken and onions simmered in a thick chipotle sauce), mole poblano, cochinita pibil (slow roasted pork). All were great on their own. Only if the tortilla was on point, everything would have been superb.

The small hole in the wall, now a franchise has a good thing going, if done right. A little extra care in the tortilla making process would go a long way. My review was a bit harsh, but it was the truth. Fix the tortillas, and we got something special now.

Guisados on Urbanspoon

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LA Street Tacos – Nameless

by Franklin on April 10, 2012

On my way home from work, I sometimes see a Mexican taco stand on the sidewalk. This is not a truck mind you, it is straight up set up on the sidewalk. They even had lights for when it became dark. This is totally illegal as they do not hold any permits or licenses — no health and safety inspection, nothing. I see them grilling and selling tacos and what not all the time. This one particular day, I took the bait and I finally stopped for a bite. Let me tell you, this was not a mistake.

I looked around and saw what they had. They had a flat top grill station, charcoal grill, table full of condiments, and even home made horchata. I asked the guy for 2 carne asada tacos and 2 chorizo tacos. The cook grilled up my meats on an open grill, then finished them off on the flat top. I then laid on the sauce along with onions and cilantro — all which were prepared at their home or somewhere else. I ordered a horchata to make it an even 5 bucks. Home made everything tacos and a drink for 5 bucks is amazing.

These tacos were delicious beyond words. The bite of the meat and the onions and cilantro was perfect. Even the hot sauces were good. I liked the smoky flavor that the meat had from the grill. Usually the chorizo I buy at the market is like a paste, but theirs was sausage like. These guys really knew what they were doing.

I was so proud of my find, that I came back the same night with my cousin and brother. My brother got a humongous burrito, and my cousin and I got some more tacos. I liked that they put the rice and meat in the burrito, gave it to my brother to add whatever he wanted — they wrapped the burrito afterwards for us. At this point, I was full, and happy that I had a chance to try this food.

There was one thing that caught my eye. As I gave the guy my money for the food, he was thankful for the business he was getting. He took the money, looked up to the sky, and thanked God for it. Then and there, it really allowed me to appreciate everything I had. To me, it was a measly 5 bucks, but to him, it was a blessing. This really opened my eyes. Food wasn’t just something “delicious” anymore — it was more than that.

Every time I pass that spot and look, they aren’t there anymore. Maybe they were given a citation or warning from law enforcement. I don’t know what happened to them, but I always hope that they are there. Either way, I still hold on to the memory of those tacos. I think it’s the place where these tacos come from that make it so delicious. It’s not from some business driven chain or money hungry restaurant owner. These tacos are homemade, brought to the streets, from hard working individuals. They know the true value of the dollar and their passion for food is evident.

I guess I’m not too distressed from their disappearance. I know Los Angeles will lead me to another street tacos once again.

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Malo – Bad Is Not So Good If It’s Bad

by Franklin on January 2, 2012

Located in the hipster town of Silver Lake, Malo serves up Mexican food with a little twist. Though the traditional tacos and chips are in order, they are known for their beef and pickle crunchy tacos and chewy chips. The location was perfect for our Christmas dinner party. The lower half was the bar and seating area — the upper was the private rooms and extra seating area. The atmosphere was fun and intimate.

The ground beef and pickle was what I wanted to try. On paper, it was interesting, but after eating it, it basically was just a burger inside a hard taco shell. Maybe the hype too large for its own good. It was just average for me. I also had a bacon and shrimp taco as well. This was a nice balance of fatty bacon and seafoody shrimp. I am just not a fan of crunchy tacos. The sauce did save the taste a bit.

There was a lot of hype about the chewy tortilla chips, and I can see why. Those things were dangerously addicting. The texture of the chewy tortilla chips was all just new and interesting. For those who think they are going to be like stale tortilla chips, you are wrong. You just have to try it for yourself. What made these chips better was the sauces they had. My favorite was the mole. It was rich and complex in flavor. Though, they had 4 different kinds, and they were all good.

I also ordered the Cast Iron Fried Chile Relleno. This was a battered and fried poblano chile with jack cheese inside. It was then smothered in ranchero sauce. The batter on the outside tasted kind of funny. Maybe bad oil? The poblano and the cheese inside was nice. The chile was sweet and the cheese was smooth. I was sad to see a lack of queso fundito on the menu.

To be honest, I did not enjoy the food too much. I wouldn’t come here for a specific dish. Despite that, I would come here again for the atmosphere. It is a great place for large groups. the location and setup was perfect. Next on the agenda, Mas Malo, their second restaurant in Downtown LA.

Malo on Urbanspoon

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Gosh Cha Cha Chili.  Why did you do this to me?  You got me so excited, and now I am caught in the middle.  I ordered my food, but you made me wait 30 minutes for 2 tacos and a burrito.  At first you excited me because I got the last of the short rib. Score!  But why didn’t it taste like anything?  Why did I feel I should have gotten the far superior spicy bbq pork tacos?  I hate you, and I like you.  But for the most part, I like you.  Just don’t make me wait over 30 minutes for my food.  Thanks.

This place is located in the weirdest neighborhood ever.  Situated in between Lincoln Heights and the low lands behind Cal State LA, the location is awkward, but I guess it works. This Asian Mexican fusion makes Korean style tacos and burritos, as well as bowls.  As a fan of the Kogi Truck, I had to give it a try.  As You may already know, I clear like the food truck better.

The tacos were flavorful and huge.  They don’t use the tiny 2 inch tacos, but the ones they sell at the market. It was packed with flavorful pork, and the salad they put on top worked really well in the tacos.

The short rib burrito, which I assume caused the 30 minute wait, was a turn off for me.  The beef was chewy and tasteless.  The rice inside was mushy, and added to the blandness. Even the flour tortilla turned stale and hard, not warm and chewy.  The burrito, simply put, was not good.

Would I be stupid to come back?  No.  I wouldn’t mind getting a few Korean tacos.  I would be scared for the wait, so I would call ahead. Definitely, when the Kogi Truck is nowhere in sight, at least I know that this brick and mortar will stay put.

Cha Cha Chili on Urbanspoon

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Los Angeles has some good Mexican food, maybe the best in the world.  Though that may be a stretch, I know we are pretty close. One of my favorite snacking spots for some tacos is Cactus in Los Angeles.

The meat here is like no other.  It is almost over cooked to a crispiness, but it is so delicious.  It is not too salty, and not really bland either.  My favorite is their carne asada or their lengua.  Lengua, being cow tongue, seems weird, but it is some of the best part of the cow. For anyone reading who hasn’t tried lengua before, please try it.  You will never go back to carne asada ever again.

I don’t want to say it, but the tacos are even better than the King.

Cactus Mexican Food on Urbanspoon

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