There must be hundreds of restaurants selling tacos in downtown Los Angeles, but you wouldn't have known it from the lines at the new Guisados that opened this week in the rapidly transforming Spring Arcade.
Tuesday, the line was constantly at a couple of dozen people from noon until at least 2 p.m. And folks who live in the area said that was short compared to yesterday.
Part of a local mini-chain that started in Boyle Heights, Guisados is based on the idea of simple tacos featuring freshly made corn tortillas and small portions of carefully made stews and other fillings. As the sign says: "Homestyle braises on homemade tortillas."
The exact mix of fillings changes regularly, so frequent visits are encouraged. You won't find carnitas or carne asada. Instead, there might be chuleta en chile verde – cubes of pork simmered in a tomatillo sauce – or chicharron – strips of silky pork fat braised in a red chile sauce.
There are also several vegetarian offerings. Hongos is mushrooms sauteed with onion and cilantro. There are vegetarian black beans topped with salty dry queso anejo, and calabacitas – zucchini braised with corn and fresh chiles.
To drink, there are aguas frescas – again changing regularly, but usually lemonade, melon, horchata (which can be spiked with coffee), and tamarindo. There's also a very good, very refreshing Armando Palmero made with lemonade and tamarindo.
Prices are reasonable – tacos run $2.50 to $2.75 and there's a terrific sampler platter of botana-sized tacos featuring six tastes for $6.
And when you're done, you're conveniently right next door to Gelateria Uli, which makes some of the creamiest ice creams in town. It's like they planned it.
Guisados, 541 S. Spring Street, Unit 101, Los Angeles, (213) 627-7656, www.guisados.co.