Wesley Avila of Guerrilla Tacos has become the posterchild of Los Angeles’ dining scene for his edgy street tacos that are taken as seriously as a nice meal at a fine dining restaurant. He’s loved by native Angelenos, transplants, and chefs alike. What makes his tacos so damn addictive?
All the butter.
Well, besides his classical training after working under some very prestigious chefs. All of his tortillas are dipped in European-style unsalted butter (meaning that it is slow-churned for less moisture with 82% butterfat so it is richer and creamier) before being quickly toasted on a flat-top grill, creating the perfect vehicle for his vegetable-driven tacos. “I like my tortillas moist and toasting them in butter keeps them that way, makes them retain heat longer, and also adds another layer of flavor and richness,” Avila says. “Growing up Latino or Mexican, tortillas with butter were our snack. We did that instead of toast.” His method is an ode to the taqueros of Mexico who have always dipped their tortillas in a little bit of meat drippings to get that extra umph factor, except, Avila uses some of the best butter that money can buy.
He has an entire page dedicated to the art of buttering tortillas in his upcoming book out on October 16th, Guerrilla Tacos: Recipes from the Streets of L.A. “One of my earliest memories is warming up flour tortillas on a stove—not even in a comal—just over the fire, and then slicing a piece of butter and eating it.” Avila remembers this as a five-year old and acknowledges his mom for teaching him to eat tortillas this way. “My father liked corn but as a kid I ate flour tortillas with butter.”
Since a lot of Avila’s tacos are vegetarian and aren’t overflowing with cabeza drippings like a lot of traditional street taquero tacos that you may find in the streets of LA, butter seemed like the natural choice for him. Besides, Avila swears, “everyone loves butter.”
“When you’re thinking to yourself, ‘Why are these tacos so good and so soft?’ That’s the butter!”