The menu at La Cenaduria, which opened in recent weeks on Garfield Ave. in what might be described as the warehouse district of East Los Angeles, is as basic as can be. Fifteen or so dishes are listed, five each for desayunos, almuersos and cenas (breakfast, lunch and dinner), and most of them tend towards the expected: sopes, burritos, quesadillas.
It's a bare-bones operation. You order at the counter then take a seat at a table in the small but cheery dining room. On the day we were there, they had run out of forks, didn't have the cocido (beef soup), and the posole wasn't yet ready. But luckily for us, the guisado del dia was plentiful.
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Other dishes were much like what you could get anywhere in town. The carne asada on the sopes was crispy and delicious, but the tamales were a tad stiff, as were the tortillas. The salsas, though, were excellent - a smoky, wickedly spicy deep red one, and a perky green. The tamarindo agua fresca was also great, with a earthy bitter edge to its sweet center.
As the name might imply, the guisado del dia changes daily. We got stewed chicken, swimming in a lightly spiced coconut milk sauce, punctuated by soft stewed zucchini. Hearty and warming, it was the type of cooking that feels instantly comforting, all creamy and hefty until you notice the subtle complexity of the chili and acid underpinnings. Served with rice and refried beans, it was the best $5.99 I've spent all month, even if I did have to eat it with a plastic spoon.