Outside of Ensenada-style fish tacos and carne asada from Baja California, Los Angeles has not been blessed with the rich northern traditions of Mexico—cuisines that have given me some of my most memorable dining experiences. Coahuila is the least known of the Mexican states that border Texas, despite the often mentioned fact that the oldest winery in the Americas is located in Parras de La Fuente, Coahuila. Among the many delicious traditions in Coahuila are the thick gorditas made from flour in the city of Torreon, located in the epicenter of northern Mexico.
When I first walked into Huntington Park’s Guiños Homemade Gorditas & Soups, I’d no idea that I’d stumbled across a regional Mexican restaurant specializing in the cuisine of Torreon. Guiños represents another vein of L.A.’s growing Mexican dining scene, a traditional restaurant that’s adapted to the needs of the community—in this case, healthful Mexican cuisine made with fresh ingredients. Owners Enrique de la Rosa, from Torreon, and Modesto Rodriguez, a Spaniard (they plan on serving paella soon, too), opened Guiños three months ago.
The gorditas come with fillings like refried beans cooked in olive oil and melted cheese, tinga de pollo (spicy chicken), or springy stewed crackling with either red or green salsa stuffed in delicious toasted flour tortillas that have a nice chew. And for the kids? The Gordiburger, a grilled beef patty with cheese or stewed chiles. The soups are outstanding; I ordered the lentejas norteñas—think cowboy beans but with lentils—flavored with slow-cooked bits of bacon, tomato, vegetables, and just the right amount of spicing. The restaurant also serves garbanzos and has specials each day. It’s a great concept with the best Mexican soups I’ve had in L.A. and, finally, gorditas that represent a new standard for antojitos (little whims) in Southern California.