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Tacos de Guisados & Masa Fresca

Coming down to LA at the end of the month to do some research on tacos. Was just in Mexico and need to find some equipment, suppliers, etc, so might as well find some food, too.

I'm primarily interested in tacos de guisados, aka, tacos de cazuela. Usually places specializing in these will have 8 to 12 cooked dishes or stews in steam tables. (Well, in Mexico, they just sit out, but apparently the health department frowns on that. ;-) ) You'll see things like papas con chorizo, mole, tinga, chicharron en salsa verde, rajas con queso, nopalaes con huevo, cochinita, bistec ala mexicana, etc, etc.

I know of Loteria and I'll probably try it even though opinions are mixed at best. And I know of Super Cocina in San Diego, which I'll certainly try to get to. What else is there in LA? I'm willing to travel anywhere (just warn me if I should go at night. ;-) )

Also, any smaller scale tortillerias, etc, making masa from scratch? If you have any recs for commercial equipment, especially used, for making and grinding nixtamal, that would also be greatly appreciated.

TIA

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  1. For taquero equiptment, check out the swapmeats.... especially at the Pomona Mission and Pico Rivera. They should be able to hook you up with the tortilleria equiptment (Which you'd have to buy from the big boys)

    As for tacos de guisado... Along with Loteria, check out El Mercadito del East Los Angeles (They have a Super Cocina type place on the second floor...

    --Dommy!

    1. I look forward to seeing the responses to your question, extramsg. I've never liked guisados but base that sentiment on the odd dish here and there, not on any systematic survey. E.g., the only thing I haven't liked in a couple of recent stops at Tijuana's in Pomona is the cabeza -- tasty meat stewed in tasty juices, but I don't like the texture. You may well think it's great, although I'm not sure whether they have enough different guisados to justify a trip out to Pomona. See degustateur's review at: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/725679

      1. Had you seen the 8 types of carnitas at Metro Balderas review by Exilekiss? If not it's most definitely worth the review time: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6637...

        2 Replies
        1. re: Servorg

          This is a small place in Hollywood that does have a pollo taco de guisado on their menu. I have not tried that item however. The menu is split between Salvadoran food (pupusas, etc.) and Mexican food.

          La Numero Uno, 1247 N. Vine St., Hollywood, 323-957-1111

          1. re: Servorg

            Saw this story http://www.latimes.com/features/food/... in today's LA Times about a new place in LA (Boyle Heights) that features guisados and wanted to add it to this prior thread (just in case extramsg comes back and is still interested in these or someone else is into them).

            -----
            Guisados
            2100 E. Cesar E Chavez Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90033

        2. Thanks for the recs so far. btw, super special bonus points if you can find a place making and/or selling chicharron prensado, either the guiso or the meat itself. If you're not familiar with it, it's the skins of pork leftover after making lard, then pressed into a sort of forcemeat, almost like chicharron spam or head cheese. In Mexico City, it's used in making some great stews for tacos de guisados. imo, it's so much better than the typical texture of chicharron in, say, a dish like chicharron en salsa verde.

          9 Replies
          1. re: extramsg

            That I would try, because it seems that the chicharrones wouldn't disintegrate into mush. I occasionally make lard and use the cracklings in biscuits or beans, e.g., but never for spam!

            1. re: hnsbmg

              Here's a pretty good video of it being made at a small lard production place:

              http://www.hechos.tv/dinero-y-empleo/...

              And if you scroll down halfway into this blog post, you'll see a good picture of it cooked into a dish:

              http://www.dallasfood.org/modules.php...

            2. re: extramsg

              Yeah, that I have yet to see... Due to historical and immigration patters, the development of Mexican food in L.A. had been stilted. Also half the Mexican population here is U.S. born and they are just used to things they way they are.... San Diego is a unique case because of the Tijuanenses who have lived there since the 80s (Maquilla money) they take STRIVES to remain "Mexicanos" (because of their business interests) and they can import their cooks. Otherwise, excellent cooks and taqueros do just FINE in Mexico either in their generational family businesses (Evertime I go to Yucatan, I still go to the same Taqueria that my father grew up on) or the resorts (My cousins have had the SAME cook at their summer home for 20 years). It's slowly getting there...

              It used to be cold shock to me how awful the tortillas are here and how I can't get a decent Pulpo en Su Tinta or Mojo de Ajo that wasn't an oil slick. But as I got older, all those craving fueled my drive to want to visit and explore Mexico more. I recently showed my 100% Irish husband how easy it was to cross the border and get amazing food just in a span of 6 hours. He can't wait to go again! Anyway, it's slowly progressing and doing a lot of food work helps, but it also helps to set expectations...

              --Dommy!

              1. re: Dommy

                You want chicharrĂ³n prensado? Come to Orange County. Go to Los Chilangos, on Lincoln west of the 5 (west of Euclid, south side of the street, ugly L-shaped minimall). They sell it with your choice of masa object: tacos, huaraches, pambazos, quesadillas (the real kind, thank you, not the sincronizada kind).

                And I want to go with you the next time you cross the border. There's still 90% of Tijuana I haven't eaten in yet, and my appetite to do so is ferocious!

                1. re: Das Ubergeek

                  REALLY?!? Color me impressed... it's usually something you'd find from a chicharon specialist.... The meanest guy in town, burnt pocked marked arms...

                  We'll probably go over sometime in the fall. Will be in touch!

                  --Dommy!

                  1. re: Das Ubergeek

                    Excellent. Thanks for the tip. Glad to hear someone's got it.

                    1. re: Das Ubergeek

                      Didn't have a chance to stop at Los Chilangos, unfortunately. Had hit Super Cocina twice and Mama Testa while in San Diego before coming up through the OC. Wife would have killed me if I made another stop.

                      However, just as a note, I didn't have too much trouble finding chicharron prensado. The carnitas place in Grand Central Market had it for $9.50/lb. (Tasty buche and carnitas from there, too.) Also found it at the carniceria in El Mercado in East LA. They had it shrink wrapped for $7.50/lb. Been hauling around a pound or so ever since, trying to keep it cool in rapidly melting ice and hotel fridges. If I die of food poisoning in a week, it was totally worth it.

                      -----
                      Grand Central Market
                      317 S Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90013

                      El Mercado
                      3455 E 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90063

                      Los Chilangos
                      1830 W Lincoln Ave, Anaheim, CA 92801

                  2. As in the town in Baja?

                  3. I've recently been turned on to a great place for masa, which makes theirs entirely from scratch: Amapola. They have a few locations, but the newest market, in Paramount, is gorgeous. Lots of great ingredients, beautiful masa, and an absurdly good chicharrĂ³n taco from the hot food counter.

                    http://www.amapolamarket.com/

                    http://blogs.laweekly.com/squidink/be...

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: noahbites

                      Very cool. Will put that place on my list.

                      This may interest you. On a visit to LA last year, I think, was driving around and decided to stop at Adelita's, which appears to have multiple locations. Pretty good pan dulce and limited guisados, plus a tortilleria with freshly made masa. Here's a video I took of their vats:

                      http://www.youtube.com/portlandfooddo...

                      A little too big an operation for me to emulate, but I enjoyed the place.

                      1. re: noahbites

                        Some updates:

                        Fresh masa seems to be all over. Went to El Mercado in East LA where there was a place making and selling it. Also went to, I think, Super A Foods in Pasadena and saw the vats of nixtamal. Both of these were with Sauce Supreme.

                        Have to admit, though, it was lowered on my list of things to do after visiting El Molino Central in Sonoma and talking to Karen who gave me every little piece of information I needed, including where to get the perfectly sized equipment and what ratios to use for the nixtamal. And I had a fabulous meal there.

                        But fresh masa seems to be no problem in LA. I think there was a place at Grand Central Market that was selling it, too.

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                        Grand Central Market
                        317 S Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90013

                        Super A Foods
                        2924 W Beverly Blvd, Montebello, CA

                        El Mercado
                        3455 E 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90063