Guero’s Cocina Mexicana
When you walk into Guero’s Cocina Mexicana, you’re walking into Gerardo Elizalde’s home. You’re meeting his family and you’re eating dishes he learned to make back in Sinaloa, Mexico as a teenager.
Elizalde came to the States in 1989 at the age of 25 and immediately put in long kitchen hours working at places like the old mariscos (seafood) stall inside Grand Central Market. He then got the chance to open up Guero’s inside the Broadway Trade Center, but building buyouts led Elizalde to switch locations and in 2014 he landed on Los Angeles Street.
Guero’s is simple in layout. There’s no flash, just vacation-like flashbacks you can access if you close your eyes while taking a bite of one of his famous fish tacos, as you wash it down with an agua fresca. You could easily trick your mouth into thinking it was sitting beachside in Mexico instead of actually being on your limited lunch break.
In Spanish, Elizalde talks about how he competes in a city filled with Mexican eateries. He identifies his menu as a culinary crossroads combining Sinaloa’s love of seafood with dishes like the ceviche and a hearty tilapia soup, alongside dishes representing his wife Mirna’s Oaxacan roots like the flavor-packed sweet and spicy mole. If you were in Mexico you’d have to drive more than 20 hours to experience the eats in both these regions, but at Guero’s you’ll get a taste in mere minutes.
“Sazon (that means the magic touch in Spanish) that’s what they have,” says a repeat customer who goes by the name Charles Bronson. “A lot of our customers eat here 4-5 times a week,” says Elizalde’s 25-year-old daughter Krystal Cordova. Cordova helps her dad juggle the loyal lunch crowd while also helping out with the technical side of the business. At the end of a long day Elizalde says he aims to serve up more than just delicious and authentic Mexican food, “We love to treat our customers like friends and that’s why they come back. ”
Written by Linda Hosmer
Photographed by Eric Cacioppo