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Food Inspiration Magazine is the online magazine for foodservice professionals in search of inspiration and innovation. With the magazine we collect, enrich and spread inspiration. The free subscription magazine is published eight times per year and is an abundant source of inspiration for food and hospitality professionals. Our readers can be found in the U.S., Northern Europe, Latin America and Asia.

  2 min

REPORTAGE

LOS ANGELES LES TACO TRAIL

Mexican-American cuisine has been receiving new impulses. Young Mexican-American chefs are playing with culinary traditions. They mix Mexican recipes with Californian ingredients and multicultural influences.

 Hans Steenbergen  Lukas Vlaar, Arjan de Boer, Doug Koob & 
Hans Steenbergen  Sander van der Meij

On a pleasant Thursday evening in November, we do a food tour with Bill Esparza, author of the book L.A. Mexicano. An important conclusion after a night of tasting: the taco is going culinary.  

We begin our tour at Guerilla Tacos, downtown LA. The flavours and presentation of the dishes blow us away. Chef Wes Avila is considered a major innovator of Mexican cuisine. Avila was trained in California and France and has worked with famous chefs including Alain Ducasse. In search of his own style, he got his Eureka moment in 2012 while driving home in Pico Rivera East LA.

‘Tacos were the perfect medium’, says Esparza. ‘They were approachable and unpretentious, but could be made into the small and perfected fine-dining meals he had studied and loved. He could make them with locally sourced ingredients and experiment with unique recipes and not have to worry about serving them with all the pretence of a fine dining establishment. Tacos, it was the way he would bring gourmet to the street and do something good.’

Esparza is enthusiastic about the innovation: 'Tortilla is his canvas for fine dining.' We end up ordering the entire menu. Sweet potato taco, Baja fried cod taco, Hawaiian blue prawn taco, butternut squash taco. The tacos are affordable, ranging from 4 to 12 dollars. The flavours are daring and challenging. Spicy and silky, crunchy and rounded, savoury and sweet. The bar at the restaurant serves a series of signature cocktails at an average of 10 dollars. 

BILL ESPARZA:
'NEW WAVE OF MEXICAN AMERICAN CUISINE'

According to Esparza, Guerilla Tacos is part of a wider movement among young Mexican-American chefs. ‘In Los Angeles they are pioneering things they aren’t doing in Mexico. The innovation began in 2008-2010. Now, Mexican chefs visit and think: “Wow, what is going on over here!”

Guerilla Tacos has a clear culinary philosophy. The chef who has prepared the tacos for us says: ‘We like rustic, rancher’s cooking, on an open fire using wood, that is certainly a trend. No more dated molecular cuisine. We aren’t looking at how others are doing it. We mix our own food history with local ingredients and our personal approach’.  

We continue our journey at the food trucks Super Estil in South Central and Taco’s El Pastor. Both driving restaurants represent a regional tradition. Almost half of Los Angeles’ population is Latino: Mexicans make up the largest community. Street food is immensely popular. At 11 PM, people are lining up for a taco. Esparza concludes: ‘For decades, European cuisine was dominant. Now we see the rise of Latin-American food.’

ABOUT CHEF WES AVILA
Back in 2012, Chef Wes Avila was between jobs and needed to pay rent so he decided he’d hit the streets and try his hand at making tacos for extra cash. With the help of his wife, Tanya, he set-up his cart in front coffee shops in the Arts District in Downtown Los Angeles for small services a few days a week. 

After a year of cart life, Wes was shut down by the city so he knew he had to go legit. This serendipitous event forced him to get a food truck but also helped to expand his offerings to more locations throughout Los Angeles. As the menu and locations grew, so did Guerrilla Tacos popularity.

By 2015, the business had grown too big for one person to manage so Chef Wes took on a partner to handle the business operations. Guerrilla Tacos continued to expand and has now evolved from a food truck to a brick and mortar restaurant.

The restaurant location opened in July 2018 just a few blocks away from the original spot Wes set up shop with his cart. The truck has been fully retired - Chef Wes never forgets where it all started, with 167 dollars and a small taco cart.

Source: www.guerrillatacos.com

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  2 min

On a pleasant Thursday evening in November, we do a food tour with Bill Esparza, author of the book L.A. Mexicano. An important conclusion after a night of tasting: the taco is going culinary.  

We begin our tour at Guerilla Tacos, downtown LA. The flavours and presentation of the dishes blow us away. Chef Wes Avila is considered a major innovator of Mexican cuisine. Avila was trained in California and France and has worked with famous chefs including Alain Ducasse. In search of his own style, he got his Eureka moment in 2012 while driving home in Pico Rivera East LA.

‘Tacos were the perfect medium’, says Esparza. ‘They were approachable and unpretentious, but could be made into the small and perfected fine-dining meals he had studied and loved. He could make them with locally sourced ingredients and experiment with unique recipes and not have to worry about serving them with all the pretence of a fine dining establishment. Tacos, it was the way he would bring gourmet to the street and do something good.’

Esparza is enthusiastic about the innovation: 'Tortilla is his canvas for fine dining.' We end up ordering the entire menu. Sweet potato taco, Baja fried cod taco, Hawaiian blue prawn taco, butternut squash taco. The tacos are affordable, ranging from 4 to 12 dollars. The flavours are daring and challenging. Spicy and silky, crunchy and rounded, savoury and sweet. The bar at the restaurant serves a series of signature cocktails at an average of 10 dollars. 

 Hans Steenbergen  Lukas Vlaar, Arjan de Boer, Doug Koob & Hans Steenbergen  Sander van der Meij

Mexican-American cuisine has been receiving new impulses. Young Mexican-American chefs are playing with culinary traditions. They mix Mexican recipes with Californian ingredients and multicultural influences.

According to Esparza, Guerilla Tacos is part of a wider movement among young Mexican-American chefs. ‘In Los Angeles they are pioneering things they aren’t doing in Mexico. The innovation began in 2008-2010. Now, Mexican chefs visit and think: “Wow, what is going on over here!”

Guerilla Tacos has a clear culinary philosophy. The chef who has prepared the tacos for us says: ‘We like rustic, rancher’s cooking, on an open fire using wood, that is certainly a trend. No more dated molecular cuisine. We aren’t looking at how others are doing it. We mix our own food history with local ingredients and our personal approach’.  

We continue our journey at the food trucks Super Estil in South Central and Taco’s El Pastor. Both driving restaurants represent a regional tradition. Almost half of Los Angeles’ population is Latino: Mexicans make up the largest community. Street food is immensely popular. At 11 PM, people are lining up for a taco. Esparza concludes: ‘For decades, European cuisine was dominant. Now we see the rise of Latin-American food.’

ABOUT CHEF WES AVILA
Back in 2012, Chef Wes Avila was between jobs and needed to pay rent so he decided he’d hit the streets and try his hand at making tacos for extra cash. With the help of his wife, Tanya, he set-up his cart in front coffee shops in the Arts District in Downtown Los Angeles for small services a few days a week. 

After a year of cart life, Wes was shut down by the city so he knew he had to go legit. This serendipitous event forced him to get a food truck but also helped to expand his offerings to more locations throughout Los Angeles. As the menu and locations grew, so did Guerrilla Tacos popularity.

By 2015, the business had grown too big for one person to manage so Chef Wes took on a partner to handle the business operations. Guerrilla Tacos continued to expand and has now evolved from a food truck to a brick and mortar restaurant.

The restaurant location opened in July 2018 just a few blocks away from the original spot Wes set up shop with his cart. The truck has been fully retired - Chef Wes never forgets where it all started, with 167 dollars and a small taco cart.

Source: www.guerrillatacos.com