Guerrilla Tacos (Los Angeles, CA)
826 E 3rd St
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Dining dates: 7/12/13, 5/2/14, 5/3/14
Guerrilla Tacos began almost two years ago and has consistently generated positive attention for its unique approach to tacos. There are so many taquerias in Los Angeles it’s difficult to stand out, but Guerrilla Tacos has done it with its upscale, modern approach to the casual taco. Chef Wes Avila went to culinary school and is classically trained; leveraging many of those principles, he’s really upped the game for the casual taco. Avila uses tortillas as a vehicle to showcase top-notch seasonal ingredients and meats in a wide variety of ways.
The menu changes constantly; I’ve seen few taquerias with such a varied menu. One day may have octopus, Proscuitto di Parma, and fresh squash tacos; the next may have lamb shank and oxtail. Diver scallops, sashimi-grade fish and live sea urchin are commonplace on the menu. Sure the tacos are more expensive than most in LA, but the quality of ingredients are clearly a differentiating factor. A meal can still be had for under $15, maybe $20 for bigger appetites.
The Guerrilla Tacos truck currently makes appearances five days a week between Culver City’s Cognoscenti Coffee and downtown’s new Blacktop Coffee. Schedules change; check Facebook for the latest schedules and the day’s menu. My first visit to Guerrrilla Tacos was last year; I found the street cart (which is now a truck) outside of the Arts District’s Handsome Coffee.
Salmon Crudo Tostada
Thick slices of salmon were complemented by bright grapefruit and grape tomatoes, offset by a lingering heat. Ideal flavors for a summer lunch outdoors. The tortilla was more crunchy than crispy; I wanted it to be a bit less of a dominating texture given the tender salmon and avocado.
Steak & Egg
Roasted Chile Scramble
Chorizo con Papas
We ordered one of each of the tacos available on this day. Steak & eggs brought a brunch feel – rich with the runny yolk and slight heat from the salsa. The chorizo and potatoes was a good flavor combination, as was the bean-egg scramble.
My following visits have been at Blacktop with Guerrilla Tacos in truck form.
Hamachi Crudo Tostada habanero chile, nectarine, blueberry, cilantro
The tostada felt lighter this time, still cripy, topped with yellowtail and sweet slices of nectarine and blueberries. The fish-fruit combination worked well again; the addition of habanero and cilantro made for some really well-balanced bites.
Pork Belly cherry pistachio relish, arbol chile, chives
Tender seared pork belly was at the center of this rich taco; the relish was both sweet and earthy and provided a lot of depth.
Lamb Shank celery root hash, feta cheese, raw tomatillo chile, cilantro
Jaime Farms Purple & Gold Cauliflower medjool dates, olives, yellow tomato chile, herbs, almonds
These two tacos were very different. Caramelized cauliflower was on full display with a nice natural sweetness; on the opposite side, a tender and rich chunk of lamb shank was brightened up with a zesty tomatillo salsa. Both were good.
Live Santa Barbara Sea Urchin soft scrambled eggs, chives, brioche
Hard to go wrong with toasted brioche, soft scrambled eggs, and sea urchin. This was tasty as expected, though I wanted a couple more slivers of urchin (and would’ve paid for it) to get the flavor in every bite.
Nueske’s Bacon Burrito scrambled eggs, charred kale, cheddar, avocado, arbol chile
Charred kale, scrambled eggs, avocado and cheddar were all good, but the bacon made the burrito for me. I’ve had Nueske’s bacon before and it has this strong smoky flavor that perfumes everything it touches. It really added a deep flavor to this burrito. However, I would’ve preferred the bacon to be chopped a bit; the thick-cut slice was a little hard to chew off with each bite.
Guerrilla Tacos has partnered with some top-notch coffee shops around town; Blacktop, serving San Francisco’s Sightglass Coffee, makes a nice post-lunch drink to battle any impending food coma.
Guerrilla Tacos presents some of the most interesting tacos around; I really like the concept. The quality of ingredients are clearly a step up from most other taquerias and it shows. The tacos really show off the seasonal ingredients, and Avila strikes some fine balances with the rich meats, hot salsas and bright herbs in his repertoire.