Day Two in Los Angeles, David and I met up with Simrit and Govind, old friends from New York and current Angelenos, to catch up over lunch. After much discussion on where to eat (someone’s suggestion to eat pizza, I will not name names, was quickly axed for obvious reasons), we found our way to Guisados, where David and I, without question, had the spiciest meal of our entire trip.
The chiles torreados taco ($2.50; pictured above), blistered serrano chiles, onions, and habanero peppers wrapped in a corn tortilla and topped with habanero salsa, was like nothing I’ve ever tasted. First of all, the homemade corn tortillas (used for all the tacos) are very thick and chewy. I personally prefer thinner tortillas grilled more crisp, but I liked the fact that they were fresh.
Second, the spice level was freakin’ insane. As you all know, as a proper Korean person, I can take heat in my food and most often I prefer it, but this was beyond a sane level of spice. I took one bite and my mouth was on fire. If you’ve ever taken a bite of a hot pepper, a pepper so hot a cup of ice cold water or milk won’t suffice, imagine a taco full of those hot peppers with a dollop of habanero salsa on top. It was complete craziness. I didn’t even attempt another bite. Govind, on the other hand, managed to finish one taco, but also lost 75% of his body’s water weight in the process, and incredibly, all from the top of his head. I didn’t know that much “head sweat” was even physically possible. David had a much different reaction. He took a single bite, and immediately had to spit it out. No offense to Guisados, but his brain sensed danger and triggered a flight response, literally. After a few minutes, David got up and insisted we leave. Later that night, he told me he’d felt light-headed and thought he’d have to go to the hospital. I’m not sure what would have happened if he’d actually swallowed.
Before our quick departure, we did try a few more tacos. The mole casipoblano ($2.50; pictured above, front-right), chicken with mole, was good, as was the cochinito pibil ($2.50; pictured above, back-right), slow-roasted marinated pork with spicy habanero sauce, but I was drawn to the chicharron en salsa ($2.50; pictured above, left), braised deep-fried pork skin served with refried beans. Braised in salsa, it loses its crunch and renders it almost gelatinous in texture, but in turn the porky air pockets capture all the peppery goodness of the sauce. It’s worth a try, but do so before the chiles torreados taco.
Who knows how you’ll be driven to act.