Archives for posts with tag: mexican food

it was almost a year ago that i discovered the wonder of guisados just a couple miles away in boyle heights. they have some of the best tacos i have ever had, so when i heard that they were going to expand to echo park, and eventually downtown, i was ecstatic. the echo park location is just down the street from dodger stadium, and opened just after the new year. i actually can’t believe it took me this long to go check it out.

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to no surprise there was a line out the door. granted it was lunchtime on a friday, but it moved fairly quickly. just like their boyle heights location, the tortillas are handmade right in front of you, from masa made next door to the other location, and the menu is on a chalkboard on the wall. it seems to consist only of tacos at this time, but perhaps they will expand to tamales and ceviche like the other location in the future.

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a nice young man wearing a dodgers hat, who seemed to be running the place, answered some questions i had about the menu, and also delivered our food. i ordered their version of an arnold palmer, called an armando palmero, named after the owner, which is a lemon-lime-hibiscus tea mix.

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for tacos i ordered a mole poblano, a pescado, and a cochinita pibil.

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they have decent sized indoor eating area…

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…but, even though it was a brisk socal day in los angeles, we chose to sit outside on the lovely patio, which has a stone fountain, veladoras on the tables, and a nice view of downtown.

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as we were finishing up, a pickup truck pulled into the parking lot, and none other than armando himself jumped out with a large bag of masa in hand. we congratulated him on a job well done. he explained that his son had called needing more masa, so he rushed it over, and confirmed that the dodger hat wearing young man was indeed his son. this echo park location was opened for him to run. i asked about the future downtown location, which he said is at least six months out, and apparently will be his daughter’s venture into the family business. each of the current locations are only a few miles from where i live, but i am very much looking forward the downtown location opening up only a few blocks away. i see a lot of tacos in my future.

guisados: echo park • 1261 w. sunset blvd. la, ca 90026 • 213-250-7600

i am not sure where i first heard of al + bea’s mexican food, but i believe it was an article on the best burrito. i remember it specifically mentioning the green sauce, and since they are just across the los angeles river in boyle heights from where i live downtown, i had to check them out. i am certain that they must use some sort of addictive additive (like crack) in their beans, because there are mornings i will wake up and have their bean and cheese burrito on the brain. maybe they use lard? or it’s the type of bean? but their refried beans are just damn tasty. other than ordering their chile relleno burrito once, i always get the bean and cheese with red sauce. i tried the green sauce, but i prefer the kick of the red. it is nothing fancy. a tortilla, refried beans, cheese and sauce. that is it.

the menu is above the tables and ranges from burritos and tacos to hamburgers and fries.

you stand in line to order from a window, wait for your number (called out first in spanish, and then nicely in english for us gringos in socal who don’t know their basic spanish), and pick it up at another window. fyi, it is cash only, but they do have an atm, and it is ridiculously cheap. lunch time can get quite busy. i managed to beat the rush today, but by the time i was done there was quite a line.

al + bea’s mexican food • 2025 east first street, los angeles, ca 90033 • 323-267-8810

there are some places that you just need to try for yourself, and for those who don’t live in los angeles, or don’t have plans to come for a visit, i am very sad for you, because guisados is one of those places. my friend the farmers market fairy has been telling me about this place for a while now, and even called it ‘life changing.’ i recently recommended it to a friend in town looking for good mexican food. he was doing a little research for his new business mexicue in nyc, and it was already on his list of places to check out. i have been throwing this place’s name around without ever trying it myself mind you…until today.

the menu is fairly prolific, so i just chose a selection of three different tacos: hongos, pescado, and mole pollo. the tortillas were thicker than what i am used to, so i was full halfway through my second taco, but i trudged on, not unhappily by any means.

i also wanted to try the habanero salsa, which my fairy friend said to beware of, but it was wonderful, yet so potent only a tad cleared my senses.

my friend raf decided on the sampler of six mini tacos, and went with the first six on the chalkboard, which we were told are the most popular.

the owner armando, personally delivered our plates, and was incredibly friendly. i had heard from my out-of-town friend that his brother eddie makes the homemade masa next door at his market. so on the way out i thanked armando, and asked about the masa. he said he would show me. i thought, ‘are you (expletive) kidding me?’ he quickly washed his hands, and brought us next door.

first the corn is steeped.

after being rinsed to take an outside thin layer off the kernel, it’s ground up into what is basically a corn mealy paste. fat is added to make what is put in tamales.

otherwise, without the fat added, they hand flatten it into disks before cooking to make tortillas. now i understand why they are thicker than usual.

on the way out, he showed us they also make bread, and told us to try one of the sweet bread pastries called conchas, or something like that. i was too damn excited to remember what he said, and too stupid to write it down.

i will ask next time, which may very well be tomorrow. this place is a must. an absolute must.

guisados • 2100 east cesar chavez avenue • los angeles, ca • 90033 

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