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Guisados: 99 Essential Restaurants 2011

PHOTO BY ANNE FISHBEIN

In Mexico City, tacos de guisado are the essential units of street-food consumption, thick tortillas splashed with stew from a heated cazuela, strewn with a bit of onion, and thrust at you even before you remember how to pronounce calabacita. Tacos made with carne asada or carnitas are action tacos, meant to be consumed the instant they're made. Tacos de guisado are what wine geeks might call tacos of contemplation, small world views encapsulated in a few grams of chile, meat and corn. In the year it's been open, this taquería, run by the De La Torre family and devoted to the cult of guisados, has established itself as the essential restaurant in Boyle Heights, a hangout for local hospital workers by day and local families by night. It's also the Eastside restaurant most likely to be visited by folks from the west — the tacos with smoky chicken tinga, pork chops in green sauce or spicy poblano-style chicken mole given texture with nuts, grains and seeds are pretty hard to resist, as is the cochinito pibil, pork long-cooked in banana leaves, which can be cranked up to filling-melting heat if that's the way you like it. Armando De La Torre, the proprietor, is happiest when he is giving you a million samples to taste, as if he were running a gelato shop instead of a taco joint.

This is one of the few serious taquerias in Los Angeles where vegetarians can be happy: There are tacos of stewed squash with chiles and kernels of sweet corn; mushrooms sautéed with onion and cilantro; and a roasted chile taco, moistened with a few drops of habanero salsa, which could go 15 rounds with Oscar De La Hoya, play badass trumpet in a mariachi band and write a sonnet to your girlfriend without breaking a sweat. If you should happen to ask whether Guisados makes its own tortillas, Armando may lead you out of the restaurant to the shop next door, where his brother doesn't just make tortillas but makes his own nixtamal and grinds it every half-hour. 2100 E. Cesar Chavez Ave., Boyle Heights. (323) 264-7201, guisados.co. Mon.-Sat., 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sun., 11 a.m.-5 p.m. No alcohol. Lot parking off St. Louis Ave., just south of restaurant. MC, V. Mexican.

99 Essential L.A. Restaurants 2011:

Jonathan Gold's Introduction
Anne Fishbein's Photos
The Google Map

The List:

A-Frame
Akasha
Alcazar
Angeli Caffe
Angelini Osteria
Animal
Antojitos Carmen
Attari
Babita
Bludso's
Border Grill
Bottega Louie
Bulgarini Gelato
Cacao
Campanile
Casa Bianca
Chang's Garden
Chego
Chichén Itzá
Chung King
Church & State
Ciro's
Comme Ça
Cut
Dae Bok
Din Tai Fung
Drago Centro
El Huarache Azteca
El Parian
Elvirita's
Euro Pane Bakery
Eva
Fab Hot Dogs
Father's Office
Fig
Gjelina
Golden Deli
Golden State
Good Girl Dinette
The Gorbals
Guelaguetza
Guisados
Huckleberry
Hungry Cat
Ink.
Jar
Jitlada
Kiriko
Kobawoo
La Casita Mexicana
Langer's
Larkin's
Lazy Ox Canteen
Le Comptoir
Little Dom's
Lou
Lucques
LudoBites
Lukshon
Mantee
Marouch
Mayura
Meals by Genet
Mélisse
Mezze
Mo-Chica
Mother Dough
Mozza
Musso & Frank Grill
Nem Nuong Khanh Hoa
Newport Tan Cang Seafood Restaurant
The Nickel
Night + Market
Oinkster
101 Noodle Express
Palate Food + Wine
Park's Barbecue
Picca
Playa
Pollos a la Brasa
Providence
Ray's
Red Medicine
Rivera
Rustic Canyon
Salt's Cure
Sapp Coffee Shop
Sea Harbour
Son of a Gun
Sotto
Spago
Spice Table
Street
Tacos Baja Ensenada
Tasting Kitchen
Terroni
Tsujita L.A.
Vincenti
Waterloo & City

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Guisados

2100 E. Cesar Chavez Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90033

323-264-7201

www.guisados.co


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