This Hole-In-The-Wall Life

The freaks come out at night

You don't want to visit TAQUERIA GUERRERO STYLE late at night. This pequeño place is just off the 405, in a section of Westminster that attracts the city's shadier denizens, the type of folks who idle their car in the vast parking lot outside for an hour or hit you up for spare change claiming they're trying to ride the bus to Pomona. Inside, the crowd is marginally safer: On a recent visit, I saw a shaved-head Latino and a burly Samoan walk up to the counter, stare at the workers for a couple of minutes, then leave without saying a word. Twice.

Then again, maybe nighttime is the right time to visit Taquería Guerrero Style. It's one of the county's few non-chain, non-Santa Ana taquerias open 24 hours, a boast repeated no less than six times on the restaurant's window, in addition to a buzzing neon marquee. It's taco eating at its most prole—a counter, some tables, Mexican regional music blasting from the kitchen and posters of chiles for decoration. The focus is on unpretentious tacos—just the meat of your choice (carne asada, carnitas, chicken—if you've spent any time in Southern California, you know other options), followed by a sprinkle of cilantro, onions and a spoonful of salsa. Pickled carrots and jalapeños sit in containers, along with more onions and lemon wedges.

These tacos aren't the best in Orange County, but they'll keep you happy: cheap, tasty, ready within a minute or so, available at all times. The al pastor is a bit dry, but that might've been because I ate it at 3 in the morn. The carne asada is properly grilled all day; the chorizo packs enough grease to oil a Cadillac, which is to say, it's delicious. The cooks offer red or green salsa when you order, but ignore those two in favor of the other salsa: a relishy condiment next to the pickled carrots that scorches like little else in the county.

Taquería Guerrero Style (goofy name, no?) doesn't offer much else: menudo and birria on weekends, and big, yummy quesadillas you should nevertheless skip since even frat boys could prepare these. But don't miss out on the burritos: rice, beans and meat stuffed inside a fluffy flour tortilla, a dense joy with enough weight to leave a bruise on the cretins who skulk outside, waiting for God-knows-what.

TAQUERIA GUERRERO STYLE, 5966 WESTMINSTER BLVD., WESTMINSTER, (714) 934-8511.

 
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