If you’re an LA taco junkie, checking out high and low, authentic to Del Tito’s Tacos, then you probably have heard of Guisados.  I had the chance to chop it up with Armando, the owner.  I stopped by, saw that Armando was intently working on his laptop.  I figured he was crunching numbers, and after finishing my meal, went to his table to talk.  I asked what he was working on and he told me that he become friends with a Russian family that seemed obsessed with opening a version of his restaurant in Russia.  It cracked me up because I had recently watched a documentary about the creator of Everybody Loves Raymond trying to take his show to Russia.  Ultimately, it was a great success.  As for guisados (stews) and tortillas in Russia?  We’ll see.  Armando notes that getting the right ingredients may not even happen.  I note that the palate might not be ready.  We’ll see.

A big part of the magic here is the tortillas.  They’re thicker than your average restaurant’s tortilla.  They’re much more delicious.  Not by chance.  Armando’s father has been a part of this neighborhood on Cesar Chavez since the early 60’s.  His brother owns the market next door, where you can see Armando oaring the corn that would be turned into masa, fresh tortilla and tamale material.  Armando has the masa brought over every 30 or 40 minutes, when it’s at optimal flavor and cooking conditions.  Yeah, how many restaurants do that?

Eddie de la Torre, Armando’s brother.

Here’s the fresh masa and the tortilla press.

Armando told me that growing up, eating carne asada tacos was more of backyard bbq party thing, and not the real, everyday homecooking that many of us often appreciate as the best food.  The most comforting, soul food.  I personally like a lot of stews in different cultures’ foods the best… Korean, Mexican, Philipino, French.  That stuff that has some sauce you can sop up with bread or rice at the end of the meal.  You know, dessert.  Armando explained that for him, he’d come home and there would be a pot of guisado cooking on the stove.  He’d grab a tortilla, plop a nice amount of guisado on to there, and there you have his “ratatouille”.

Roy Choi of Kogi fame was intereviewed here recently.  It’s a favorite taco joint of his.  He told Armando that out of respect for the East LA taco truck culture, he’s purposely not had any Kogi trucks go in the area.  Sounds like some Mario Puzo shit.

(photos by John Park / IG @freshtalent )

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