Life Beyond Tacos? The Tortas, Delicious Soups, Outstanding Flautas and Breakfast Burritos at Angry Egret Dinette [Thoughts + Pics]

One of the shocking and sad events amid the long list of sad events in the culinary world in 2020 was when Founder-Chef Wes Avila left Guerrilla Tacos. The beloved restaurant had just gotten settled in to its first brick and mortar location (after years of being on the streets as a cart and then a Taco truck). Chef Avila was the mastermind, founder and heart and soul of Guerrilla Tacos, so his departure signaled “the end” of Guerrilla Tacos for many, even if new staff was hired to replace him.

After months of silence, Chef Avila has reappeared with a new restaurant, the uniquely named Angry Egret Dinette. Immediate questions abound: Why is the Egret angry? How does the Egret influence the menu? And will Chef Avila ever make Tacos again? :slight_smile:

For the Grand Opening menu, Chef Avila focused on 3 different Tortas (essentially a Mexican Sandwich), but with more unique flavors, as he has done since day 1 of Guerrilla Tacos back in the day.

The Saguaro (Squash Blossom, Broccolini, Heirloom Tomato, Mustard Frill, Ricotta Cheese, Salsa Roja):

The first bite of the Saguaro shows off the quality Chef Avila has been known for at Guerrilla Tacos: The Bolillo Bread is made by a local Bakery, lightly crusty on the outside, soft on the inside, and it gives way to perfectly fried Squash Blossoms. The Broccolini, Mustard Frill, Heirloom Tomato and Ricotta Cheese help round things out, and while they all taste fresh and bright, the overall flavor combination is just OK.

Anyone who knows Guerrilla Tacos can attest to how amazing Chef Avila can be with Vegetables. Many a times, his Vegetarian Tacos are better than his various meat offerings. Here in the Saguaro, the flavors are good, but don’t really sing compared to his OG creations at Guerrilla. But it’s the first week, so wanted to see how things progressed over time.

Fries (Chives, Sea Salt):

The Fries are fried to order, so they arrive piping hot (always a good thing). :slight_smile: They are crispy on the outside, soft inside and a good side to enjoy. It won’t topple Connie & Ted’s for best in the city, but these are very good.

The Whittier Blvd (Beef Brisket, Red Peppers, Avocado, Queso Fresco, Horseradish Cream, Serrano Chile):

Now this is more like it! The Whittier Blvd, a reference to the OG hangout growing up in East LA, provides a good reminder of what made Guerrilla Tacos what it was back in the day: The slow stewed Beef Brisket is tender and juicy, the Queso Fresco and Avocado give it a nice creaminess and fat component, but it’s the Horseradish Cream that gives it that fragrant spike and aroma that makes this Sandwich shine. :blush:

Definitely the best of the opening menu.

The Culver (Prosciutto di Parma, Maasdam Cheese, Arugula, Fried Egg):

Unfortunately, The Culver is the least successful of the opening menu’s Tortas: The ingredients are excellent and quality, but Prosciutto, Egg and Arugula sandwiched between 2 thickish pieces of Bolillo Bread tastes mundane. It’s not “bad” at all, but rather familiar in flavors and a bit boring.

There was one worry arising from the first time the Angry Egret Dinette concept was announced and confirmed after this first visit:

Tortas / Sandwiches are far more filling than a Taco. While that may be a good thing to order just 1 item and you’re done, it’s also a bad thing that you can only order 1 item and you’re done. It’s just very filling (a lot of Bread), and it’s inherent in this dish itself (not Angry Egret’s “fault”). Whereas at Guerrilla Tacos, you can order 2 - 3 Tacos to sample a variety of unique, interesting flavors (and if one flavor wasn’t your favorite, you could sample other flavors without gorging yourself), with a Torta? Unless you’re sharing, just 1 Torta is a meal.

2nd Visit:

For the 2nd Visit, the signage was slowly being put up, and in honor of the Dodgers winning the World Series, Chef Avila (a huge Dodgers fan) created a new menu item called “The Mookie Melt” in honor of Mookie Betts of the Dodgers.

The Mookie Melt (Grilled Chicken Thigh, Candied Bacon, Gruyere Cheese, Poblano Salsa, Scallions):

Sadly, The Mookie Melt was disappointing. :frowning: The Bolillo Bread on this visit was drier, a bit dense, the Grilled Chicken Thigh was dry, and that resulted in all of the ingredients combining into a desicated Sandwich. :frowning:

However, this 2nd visit also featured a bunch of new menu items, so clearly Chef Avila was exploring and branching out, trying different concepts.

Hot Pocket (Ham & Cheese):

This sounded great! A Housemade Hot Pocket from Chef Avila? Yes, please!

This turned out to be fine, the flaky pastry dough was sufficiently buttery. The Ham & Cheese filling had sufficient salinity and funkiness from the Cheese, but the flavors ultimately were just OK (rather straightforward).

Tamal (Red Beef, Poblano Salsa, Fried Egg, Sesame and Herbs):

The Red Beef Tamale is better. The Masa is soft, moist, the Red Beef flavors are more vibrant than the previous Torta offerings (sans The Whittier Blvd).

The Poblano Salsa is delicious and the Fried Egg layers on a silkiness.

Sloppy Jose (Cubed Tomato, Aged Cheddar, Arbol Chile):

Chef Avila’s take on the classic Sloppy Joe Sandwich, the Sloppy Jose tastes similar, but is surprisingly sweeter than what one might expect. I was hoping for more of a savory, Chile de Arbol take on the Chili topping.

AE Dinette Shrimp Bowl (Shrimp, Rice, Fried Egg, Thai Salsa, Heirloom Tomato, Sesame Seeds, Roasted Leeks, Market Vegetables, Serrano Chile, Scallions):

The most complex dish on Angry Egret’s menu so far, this seemed more like what we’re expecting Chef Avila to make. Interesting flavors, it is certainly a (good) fusion of many cuisines, and made for a satisfying Shrimp Bowl.

3rd Visit:

Torta Au Pied de Cochon (Pig Foot Torta) (Pork Shoulder Rolled in Deboned Pork’s Foot, Purple Frill and Habanero Mustard):

Finally!

This 3rd visit yielded the culinary greatness we were hoping for from Chef Avila at his new restaurant. First, yes, it is as absurd as the menu description says: Slowly Stewed Pork Shoulder wrapped in Deboned Stewed Pork Foot with Habanero Mustard and Purple Frill on a toasty Bread Roll that was different from their standard Bolillo.

The first bite: A gush of porcine loveliness, tender, melt-in-your-mouth Stewed Pork Shoulder, some luscious fattiness from the Stewed Pork Foot, balanced by their Housemade Habanero Mustard! Outstanding! :heart:

This is a real highlight, and hopefully will be a mainstay on Angry Egret’s menu! :blush:

Flauta (Beef Machaca, Onions, Serrano Chile, Salsa China, Mejorado Tortilla):

And if the Stewed Pig Foot Torta wasn’t glorious enough, Chef Avila’s new Flauta is even better. Lightly crisped, but a huge portion of zesty, spicy Beef Machaca, with an immediate warming kick from the Serrano Chilies, then elevated by Chef Avila’s Salsa China, aromatic, spicy (but manageable). It is one of the best Flautas in the city! :heart:

4th Visit:

By this 4th visit, we see Chef Avila getting more comfortable and expanding the menu. He’s added 2 Breakfast Burritos to the menu.

The Atwater Breakfast Burrito (Shiitake Mushrooms, Red Peppers, Braised Leeks, Scrambled Eggs, Swiss Cheese, Salsa China):

For those that were able to experience it, Guerrilla Tacos had some good Breakfast Burritos back in the day, but this new Atwater Breakfast Burrito from Chef Avila at his new Angry Egret Dinette surpasses what was at Guerrilla!

Perfectly cooked Scrambled Eggs, sexy, creamy, moist, Braised Leeks, Shiitake Mushrooms and the Salsa China. Wow! This is the Chef Wes Avila that we’re waiting for to re-emerge after developing this new concept. :heart:

Hey Porky’s Breakfast Burrito (Pork Shoulder, Bacon, Mom’s Papas, Scrambled Eggs, Pinto Beans, Queso Oaxaca, Salsa Verde):

The counterpoint to the previous Atwater, the Hey Porky’s Breakfast Burrito is more meat-focused (whereas the Atwater was Vegetarian), Stewed Pork Shoulder and Bacon are the stars here, accompanied again by perfect Scrambled Eggs, so luscious and juicy(!). The Potatoes, Pinto Beans (excellent), Queso Oaxaca and his Housemade Salsa Verde round things out. Delicious! :heart:

Baja Shrimp Po’ Boy (Fried Shrimp, Pico de Gallo, Cabbage, Cucumber, Chipotle Cream):

This was tasty, but highlights the fundamental gap between Tacos and Tortas / Sandwiches. Chef Avila’s previous Baja Shrimp Taco (at Guerrilla Tacos) was outstanding. The Organic Heirloom Tortillas were small and bite-sized and allowed the plump, crisp-crunchy Shrimp to shine with the Salsa. In Torta / Sandwich form, the Bread takes more of the spotlight. It’s a solid Sandwich, but much better in Taco form.

Pozole (Green Pozole, Pork Shoulder, Pig Feet, Hominy, Cabbage, Radish, Limes and Tostada):

The hits keep on coming: Chef Avila’s Pozole Special is mouth-watering, heart-warming and the perfect antidote to the Winter chill! Lightly porky, clear, bright, balanced, one of the best Pozole currently in the city! The Stewed Pork Shoulder and Pork Foot is a nice addition as well. :heart: While Tamales Elena Y Antojitos’ Guerrero-style Pozoles are still tops, Angy Egret’s is outstanding as well! :blush:

5th Visit:

Just in time for Christmas, Angry Egret has cheerful Holiday decorations up, along with an impressive Simpson’s Christmas Collection diorama. :slight_smile:

Flauta (Beef Machaca, Onions, Serrano Chile, Salsa China, Mejorado Tortilla):

The Flauta is as spectacular as the previous visit! Glorious, crisped, excellent, satisfying Beef Machaca and Onions with Chef Wes’ Housemade Salsa really lifting up the dish even more. Must order! :heart:

Torta Au Pied de Cochon (Pig Foot Torta) (Pork Shoulder Rolled in Deboned Pork’s Foot, Purple Frill and Habanero Mustard):

Even better than the previous visit! :open_mouth: Luscious Stewed Pork Shoulder and Stewed Pork Foot (Deboned), moist and tender, and the Habanero Mustard. It remains a highlight of the menu! :heart:

(Special) Albondigas:

One of the best Specials that ran at Guerrilla Tacos’ back in the day was the Albondigas, based off his grandmother’s recipe. So when Chef Avila announced he was bringing it back here at Angry Egret, we couldn’t wait!

Thankfully the Albondigas Soup itself tastes just as good as it used to at Guerrilla Tacos. So flavorful, savory and not overly salty, just warming and delicious! :heart: The Albondigas Meatballs themselves are a bit heftier / larger portions here at Angry Egret (whereas at Guerrilla, he had made them smaller). The resulting heft is a better value, but it felt a bit too clumpy at times (the smaller versions were lighter). But otherwise, still quite good.

With Angry Egret Dinette, Chef Wes Avila has re-emerged from his hiatus after leaving Guerrilla Tacos. While the first few visits felt like he was still finding a direction for the restaurant, after only focusing on Tortas / Sandwiches, the 4th and 5th visits to the restaurant have illuminated more solid footing.

From the Torta Au Pied de Cochon (Stewed Pork Shoulder rolled in Deboned Stewed Pork Foot with Habanero Mustard), Flauta (so tasty with his Beef Machaca & Onions and Salsa China), to the Atwater & Hey Porky’s Breakfast Burritos that have become some of the best in the city, to the Pozole, a stunning Broth that warms the soul and brings joy, these are simply outstanding dishes that reflect Chef Avila overall, his Southern California roots, his Mexican heritage, and his experiences as a classically trained Chef (cooking with Chef Walter Manzke (Republique), Chef Gary Menes (Le Comptoir) and Chef Alain Ducasse). It can’t be easily categorized as “Mexican food” or “L.A. food”, etc. It’s something unique to Chef Avila, and we’re hoping he continues upwards in this new trajectory, achieving greater culinary heights in his new endeavor.

Angry Egret Dinette
(in Mandarin Plaza)
970 N. Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90012

https://www.aedinette.com/

Update:

Christmas Tamales - Duck Tamale:

@ipsedixit’s inquiry for Christmas Tamales spurred us to pick up a dozen from Angry Egret Dinette in time for the holidays. :slight_smile: I’ve never had Chef Wes’ Tamales before while he was at Guerrilla Tacos, so I was curious and hopeful.

Unfortunately the Duck Tamales were just OK. They weren’t bad, but there was way more Masa than filling (the ratio felt off), and so it tasted like you were eating mainly Masa with a bit of Duck. The Duck in Salsa Roja was also a bit one note, mainly a basic Chile flavor coming through.

6th Visit:

The Atwater Breakfast Burrito (Shiitake Mushrooms, Red Peppers, Braised Leeks, Scrambled Eggs, Swiss Cheese, Salsa China):

As wonderful as the first time we tried it! A fragrant, balanced Breakfast Burrito, with juicy, Soft Scrambled Eggs, earthy Shiitake Mushrooms, fragrant Roasted Peppers and Braised Leeks that really elevate the whole thing. :heart:

(New) Roy & Jon Burrito (Burrito with Adobo Duck Neck, Kimchi Omelette, White Rice, Shishito Peppers and Salsa Macha):

The new Roy & Jon Burrito is Chef Wes Avila’s tribute / homage to his time cooking with Chef Roy Choi and actor Jon Favreau on Netflix’s The Chef Show. It generally works. The Adobo Duck Neck meat is surprisingly the least interesting part of the Burrito, it’s a bit tough (slightly) and meaty, the Adobo flavors are a bit tame, but complement the rest of the ingredients.

But it’s the Kimchi Omelette, Shishito Peppers and Chef Avila’s Salsa Macha that shine here and overall it makes for a tasty Burrito, but their Atwater and Hey Porky’s Burritos are better.

(Special) Menudo (Traditional Mexican Menudo Soup with Tripe, Beef Feet and Hominy in a Savory Guajillo Chile Broth. Garnish of Mejorado Flour Tortilla, Cilantro, Onions, Oregano, Chile Flakes and Lime):

The new Weekend Special of Menudo Soup is a standout: A stunningly deep, slow-cooked Beef & Guajillo Chile Broth is one of the most flavorful, nourishing Menudo Broths I’ve ever had! :heart: It is perfect for these chilly Winter days and has a good beefy, warming Chile heat in each sip.

The Tripe is very tender, but there was very little of the Pata (Stewed Beef Foot), but that’s probably just part of the randomness (in a large soup pot). The Cilantro, Onion, Oregano, Chile Flake and Lime garnish really provides the perfect herbal and bright spike to each sip that makes Angry Egret’s version a standout Menudo and one of the best in the city right now! :blush:

(Special) Lamb Torta “Dip” with Au Jus:

But an even greater surprise is Chef Avila’s new menu Special: The Lamb Torta Dip. He was posting pictures of slow-roasting an entire Lamb and breaking it down, and the result is a stunning masterpiece! Succulent, juicy, lightly gamy, but luscious Roasted Lamb with Salsa Macha, Chipotle Horseradish, Fresno Chilies, Salsa China, Avocado and Cilantro combines to make the most amazing Lamb Sandwich I’ve ever had! :heart: :blush: :heart:

But it gets better: Chef Avila serves it with a side of his Housemade Lamb Consomme, which you can sip and enjoy on the side as you eat the Lamb, like a traditional Barbacoa de Borrego meal, or it’s served in a wide enough container that you can dip the Lamb Torta into it like a French Dip Sandwich! :open_mouth:

The result is stupid good: This is also the best Lamb French Dip Sandwich I’ve ever had! :heart: Don’t miss this @ipsedixit (since you had enjoyed The Briks’ (RIP) Lamb French Dip back in the day, this is even better!). :blush:

Angry Egret Dinette looks like it’s continuing to find its solid foundation, with Chef Wes Avila diving more into his culinary and cultural heritage, bringing in great flavor combinations and wonderful recipes. His current hits are far more interesting and delicious than the Grand Opening menu, and we’re starting to see that spark that made his previous endeavor at Guerrilla Tacos shine.

Don’t miss out on his Pozole Verde, Menudo, Pied de Cochon Torta (Stewed Pork Shoulder wrapped in Stewed Pork Foot Sandwich), his Breakfast Burritos like the Atwater and Hey Porky’s, but especially the new Lamb Torta Dip.

Angry Egret Dinette
(in Mandarin Plaza)
970 N. Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90012

https://www.aedinette.com/

Instagram for New Menu Updates:
https://www.instagram.com/angryegretdinette/

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So awesome. I tell myself in love . I’m never calling her again . Of course we do. Its what we love . Looks beautiful chef .

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What goes in salsa China ?

Another awesome compendium. Although for this Red Sox fan, the above was a tough statement to digest.

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Hi @bbqboy,

Chef Wes was doing all the cooking so we weren’t able to say “Hi” or chat it up with him on these visits, but I’ll try asking him next time. But essentially the Salsa China is like his homage to that classic Chinese Chili Oil / Sauce (the one with the translucent Red Chili Oil, and a bunch of Chili Seeds and other stuff on the bottom of the jar). I’m not sure what the official name is (@ipsedixit?). :slight_smile:

It tasted similar, but different, a bit more aromatic. If I find out more about it I’ll let you know. Thanks. :slight_smile:

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Hi @digga,

Thanks! :slight_smile:

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This one?

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Hi @ipsedixit,

Yah I think that’s it. :slight_smile: Thanks. Is that what most restaurants use (sitting in the metal & glass container on the tables) around the SGV? It looks like that one. Thanks.

Hmm, no idea.

I would venture that most mom-and-pop shops in SGV that have jars of chili sauce on the table are using generic chili sauce (diluted) like the ones pictured below and/or homemade concoctions.

Screen Shot 2020-12-26 at 2.47.50 PM

Lao Gan Ma is actually pretty pricey, all things considered, esp. if you’re providing it gratis

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The egret is normally a silent bird (that is, it doesn’t have a call that it usually makes). But when it does rarely make sounds, it often sounds like “cook cook cook”. So, putting the two sound modes together, you get “Shut up and cook”. Maybe that’s Wes Avila’s secret motto. :slight_smile:

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What I’ve seen in the places that serve it is (I think) not exactly either one of these. It definitely has oil, but is probably not as fancy as Lao Gan Ma. More like a very simple dried-pepper-flakes-in-oil condiment.

Note: whoever wrote a Wikipedia article about it calls it 辣椒油 or 紅油

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Thanks for the review and pics! The pork trotter pied au cochon torta looks really good. In fact pretty much everything looks pretty good. I didn’t know that chef Avila had left Guerilla Tacos. I regret not trying it the last time I was in LA.

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Hi @Mr_Happy,

Thanks! :slight_smile: Yah it was really delicious.

Did you ever get to try Guerrilla when they were a cart or Taco truck either? I hope you get a chance to try it next time you visit LA.

Pig’s foot/feet/trotter :drooling_face::drooling_face::drooling_face:

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Didn’t get to try it at all unfortunately. It’s definitely on the list for the next LA trip (and Angry Egret too!).

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Amazingly thorough report, as always!

Do you know if this is a special? I’m not seeing it on their menu.

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Hi @paranoidgarliclover,

Thank you! The Torta Au Pied de Cochon was on the menu for like 2 - 3 weeks straight? Ah darn, I don’t see it on the online menu as well right now.

Hopefully they bring it back soon (maybe just a Christmas break / limited menu for now?). If you see it again, definitely give it a try. :slight_smile:

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Never knew you to be a ‘feet’ guy? :laughing:

Hi @paranoidgarliclover,

Torta Au Pied de Cochon is back on the menu this week! :blush:

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Argh!!! Just went on Saturday. But maybe I’ll make a return trip for this. :wink:

Flauta was very good, tamale quite dry, and the burrito tasted good but was phenomenally oily.

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