All Lunch Spots Should Have a Guisados Style Sampler Platter
Obviously we here at ML believe that lunch is the most important decision you’ll make today, and I often get asked how I decide where to go. I can’t divulge all of the complex algorithms that determine whether a place is worthy of being called a Midtown Lunch, but there are a few menu items that are guaranteed to get me excited (spoiler: putting avocado on a chicken sandwich, which an improvement, is not one of them). Topping a burger with a runny egg will guarantee you a looksee. In fact, topping anything with a runny egg is good thing in my book. Putting french fries or onion rings in places where they don’t belong also brings me a lot of joy (i.e. inside falafel pitas, or stuffed into burritos). And of course, there is the all you can eat buffet- which could be the greatest form of lunchtime eating ever invented. I am a very forgiving eater when faced with the prospect of all you can eat.
Now I know what you’re thinking. “You, are a fat bastard Zach. Of course you like the all you can eat buffet!” But to be completely honest it is way more about variety than quantity. Which is why I was super excited by the $7 sampler platter being served at Guisados in Boyle Heights.
Ever since Guisados opened almost a year ago, it has been on the radar of taco fanatics thanks to Eating L.A., The Find, and most recently The Guru (who was particularly enamored with their chiles torreado.) Located on Cesar Chavez Ave in Boyle Heights it’s a little farther outside of DTLA than I like to travel, but if you work Downtown and are willing to hit up Philippe’s for lunch, Guisados is just a mile and a half further down the street and completely worth it. Guisado means stew in Spanish, and while tacos de guisado are a street food specialty of Mexico City they are far more rare in this city where carne asada is king.
Guisados has a menu of over 15 different stews each day (including a few specials), each with their own different condiments. They’re $2.50 each, and the super thick corn tortilla made fresh in the bakery next door means that 2 could easily be a meal for some. But the best thing to order at Guisados, especially for first timers, is the sampler: 6 mini tacos de guisado for just $7. Sounds like a no brainer to me!
The sampler platter usually comes with the first 6 tacos listed on the blackboard, but they will usually grant a swap- provided that it’s not one of specialty tacos at the bottom (like the shrimp or fish.) Clockwise from the top left, I ended up with the cochinita pibil, the chicharron, the bistek en salsa rojo, the tinga de pollo, the chicken mole poblano, and in the middle the chuletas con salsa verde (which I swapped in for the steak picado.) Each taco was about two bites, making it plenty of food, and surprisingly easy to share if you end up there with a second person who wants to get a taste of everything Guisados has to offer. Each stew had its own particular toppings, and the super thick tortillas do a good job of holding it all together. Not every stew will be loved by everybody, but they were all pretty damn tasty. And for $7 it’s kind of a steal.
Washed down with a horchata, it was the perfect lunch.
And if you check in on FourSquare, you get a free quesadilla with the purchase of the sampler platter and a drink. Don’t mind if I do! I didn’t see the quesadilla on the menu so I’m not sure how much it costs normally, but for free how could we go wrong? If the idea of one of their thick corn tortillas, wrapped around panela cheese and griddled to a crisp sounds good to you, you will love their quesadilla. Simple and delicious, we especially liked it dipped in their super spicy habanero salsa.
I’m guessing the guisados you’ll find in Mexico City are a bit more rustic than these bad boys, and there will be people who don’t like the super thick L.A. style corn tortillas. And maybe you know a spot with better versions of mole poblano, or cochinita pibil, or tinga. But there is something awesome about a spot that will let you try most of their menu for $7. I wish every lunch place I went to was like that.
Guisados, 2100 E. Cesar Chavez Avenue, 323-264-7201