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Tacos de Guisados & Masa Fresca

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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 chicharrón 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. re: Gypsy Jan

                    As in the town in Baja?

                    1. re: extramsg

                      Yes, exactamente.

                  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 chicharrón 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.

                        -----
                        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

                      2. Hello extramsg, I believe you've 'bout got it covered. Loteria Grill has the only substantial selection of tacos of guisado. There is also Alma the former Breed St vendor that did the rice with hard-boiled egg taco(most common guisado in DF), chicharron, etc. She still sets up next to Nina on Breed St. just south of C. Chavez, guisados are few though, as she does grilled meats, too.

                        Alambres are guisados, best are at Antojitos Carmen and Tacos Cuernavaca.

                        The moronga at Los Conco Puntos is a guisado, and off the charts good. Have them serve in a taco there or get it to go.

                        Mariscos El Tetos does Baja style seafood guisados.

                        Any stew from Vallarta markets warming counter, can be out in a taco lined with Mexican rice to trap sauces, those are guisados.

                        There are no rules in guisados, only that they are stews, or stew like. The alambre isn't by definition a stew but is a common addition to a guisados stand. About the only other rule is that it should be delicious.

                        Any mole can be a guisado, so our Oaxacan restos will do here.

                        That's the scoop here, but you could find around 50 guisados walking out of a metro stop in DF, so I you're aren't going to find anything here in LA that represents a true tacos of guisados stand. Loteria actually is the most representative, in their taco menu.

                        You'd have much more luck in Tijuana, but if you're up for some serious driving, you can put together some nice experiences here in LA.

                        -----
                        Loteria Grill
                        6333 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90036

                        Antojitos Carmen
                        2510 East Cesar E Chavez Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90033

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: streetgourmetla

                          Thanks. I've got no problem doing lots of driving. Hell, I've driven 2500 miles for BBQ and 3000 miles for pizza. Last time I was in LA, I drove all over for mariscos having already driven from here to San Jose, then down 101 exploring the eats of nearly every town on the way, including a day where I had four or five meals in Watsonville (the second best town in California for mariscos, imo).

                          Yeah, I was thinking of heading down to Tijuana and stopping at Super Cocina in San Diego, as well. I just didn't know if Tijuana would truly be worth it or not since you can never tell with a border town.

                          1. re: extramsg

                            In Tijuana, and throughout Baja Tacos de guisado are known as tacos varios, and they have a serious presence there. Worth the effort.

                            1. re: streetgourmetla

                              Does the meat have the mushy texture that you often find in guisado-style meats here, even in Babita's filling for chiles en nogada, e.g.?

                              1. re: hnsbmg

                                Well, they are stews, so yes. These aren't grilled meats. The filling for chiles en nogada is picadillo, which is a guisado.

                                1. re: streetgourmetla

                                  I cook beef, veal, or pork stews all the time without reducing the meat to mush, and La Casita uses an outstanding beef/pork ground (or chopped) mixture for their chiles en nogada that is never mushy and which I much prefer to Babita's or La Cabañita's. Also, when I lived in Texas, I don't remember that mush -- MOOSH would be a better term -- in the guisados. I've tried to think back to what I might have eaten as a little kid in South Texas and on the California/Mexico border that might have soured me on too-soft guisado and can't recall any specific thing, but I do know that I can't stand the texture. Anyway, I appreciate the comments. (Just send me your bill, Doc, and I'll remit promptly. ;-)

                          2. re: streetgourmetla

                            Got to Antojitos Carmen with Sauce Supreme. Had only been there previously at the Breed St Market. Had an excellent meal, including lengua, cabeza, and barbacoa maybe? All were excellent. Note that according to the menu that have several typical guisados, including tinga, picadillo, hongos, and papas con chorizo. Of course, stewed meats often make it onto a guisados menu, so you might as well count the ones we had.

                            The quesadillas, though, were el chingon. Got to get them without all the extras, though. No lettuce, sour cream, etc. Just cheese and the filling. I think I got tinga and flor de calabaza. Best flor quesadilla I've had outside of Mexico, I think. And I've definitely had worse inside Mexico. Tinga was pretty good, not overly sweet or tart as some tend to be. Had more the character of a tinga poblana you'd expect in Puebla, but without the great non-meat texture of the fillings they use for molotes and quesadillas there.

                            -----
                            Antojitos Carmen
                            2510 East Cesar E Chavez Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90033