In a perfect world I’d be eating Guerrilla Tacos once or twice a week, especially since the menu changes so frequently depending on what seasonal produce Chef Wes Avila has at his disposal. But given their hours and location in relation to my own schedule I’m forced to play the waiting game for an opportunity to fight through downtown traffic in order to get to the Arts District. Fortunately, the opportunity presented itself on this particular Friday, less than a month removed from my last visit to GT. It also happened to be Valentine’s Day, and anyone who knows me understands that tacos are a direct line to my heart. I’m easy to please.
McGrath baby broccoli, bacon & cheddar taco, poached egg, almond chile, pickled onion, chive [$5]
First up was a visually stunning taco featuring baby broccoli, bacon, and a poached egg as the central elements, coming together to form a delectable breakfast-esque trio. The heaviness of the bacon and runny poached egg were countered by the vibrant almond chile and slightly tart pickled onions. The edible flowers placed ever-so delicately on top show Avila hasn’t lost his eye for presentation just because he traded formal dining scene for curbside chowing down.
Cook Pig Ranch roasted pork shoulder taco, tomatillo chile, cilantro, radish [$5]
Roasted pork shoulder was basically a really, really good carnitas, perfectly crispy and conveying a pure pork flavor thanks to the superior breeds of supplier Cook Pig Ranch. The tomatillo chile did a great job of balancing the heft of the fatty pig, while thinly sliced radishes provided a refreshing crunch. This was perhaps the most “normal” taco I’ve had from GT, but it still bests what I regularly find at other taqueros around the city.
Sunchoke, onion marmalade, Roquefort bleu cheese, chile, herbs, on brioche toast [$7]
I ordered this one on a whim as I was curious to see how Avila would tackle the sunchoke, an ingredient that doesn’t seem to get as much play as it should. The result was fantastic; the nutty, potato-like tubers were paired with a strong Roquefort blue cheese and onion marmalade that assaulted (in a good way) my senses. The green salsa had a sneaky bit of creeping heat and the brioche toast was the buttery base needed to hold everything in place.
Roasted sardines, red pepper escabeche, preserved lemon, herbs, chile de yerba [$6]
The sardines were a thing of beauty, roasted to a char and emitting an intoxicatingly fishy aroma into the nostrils of everyone in the vicinity. The flesh easily separated from the bone and conveyed a vinegary oiliness, a taste that I’ve loved since my early years eating canned sardines as an after school snack. Both visually and taste-wise it was a dish that easily could easily be found on a dinner menu at double the price at any of the LA’s hottest restaurants.
Kona Kampachi tostada with blood orange, cherry tomato & habanero, cilantro, avocado, lime [$8]
The worst part about eating at Guerrilla Tacos is not being able to order everything, and although I should’ve stopped after the sardines I didn’t have the willpower to say no to this kampachi tostada. The “designer yellowtail”, as it’s sometimes referred to, was most certainly sushi-grade, and an easy choice to pair with blood orange slices and halved cherry tomatoes. The key was to get a bite that featured the crunchy tostada, fish, citrus, and creamy avocado, in what was without a doubt one of the best tostadas I’ve had.
I’ve yet to have even a mediocre meal at Guerrilla Tacos over the course of my visits there. In fact, each time has managed to surpass the previous ones, a rare feat in the restaurant world where most places strive for consistency rather than taking risks and truly growing. Wes Avila might just be the best taquero in Los Angeles at the moment, and if not that then he is certainly the most ambitious and unafraid when it comes to taking tacos to new heights.
582 Mateo St
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Dine date: Fri 2.14.14, 11:30am