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El Gusano is the most compelling Mexican restaurant we’ve seen in years. It’s a humble, kitchen-line taqueria at lunch, with great burritos and tamales, and amazing grilled sandwiches called pambazos. (Get the four-meat Gusano loco.) Waiters come out at night (although they’re sometimes hard to catch), serving innovative, oversized, and consistently delicious dishes such as the tampiqueño, a smoky slab of carne asada, and the chuleta de puerco adobada, a tender, sweet-chile, double-cut pork chop. Both are prepared with Niman Ranch meats. We love the atmosphere—a cavernous space transformed into an intimate hacienda. Or call it a cool cantina, with its 100 tequilas and mescals. (El Gusano means “the worm.”) The shrimp and salmon crudos are refreshing starting points; the soups are soulful; and the three little piggies—a trio of pork tacos prepared in different ways—will blow you away. Lunch Mon.–Fri., dinner Tues.–Sat.
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