About Chef Wesley Avila
When Chef Wes Avila first started Guerrilla Tacos in 2012 he wasn’t setting out to do something different—he was setting out to do something good—to cook food that was a reflection of all the culinary experiences that had shaped his identity; to have a place where he could freely express himself over the stove.
Growing up in Pico Rivera, the heart of east Los Angeles, he was raised surrounded by the rich smells and multicultural flavors of the city. Ambling through his old neighborhood, one can find Mexican, Chinese, Italian, Korean, French, Ethiopian, Japanese, Indian, Thai and American Dinner restaurants all within a stone’s throw away.
After high school, Wes was unsure of his future and went to work as a teamster driving a forklift at a box factory for seven years.
He was making money, sure, but spiritually, he was hungry for more. When he had saved up enough, Wes quit his job and enrolled fulltime in the California School of Culinary Arts to explore the craft he had always enjoyed.
While at school, he visited the restaurant L’Auberge Carmel, which opened his mind and palate to the subtle complexities of a fine dining cuisine. Upon graduation he packed his belongings and drove north to L’Auberge, where he got a job as a line chef under Walter Manzke.
When Wes finally moved back to LA, his new skills quickly got him chef jobs at a country club in Palos Verdes and other gourmet restaurants around the city. It was at one of these jobs he met chef Gary Menes, and helped him open the 3-star rated restaurant Palate Food + Wine to critical acclaim.
A trip to Europe impacted Wes so much that no less than a week after returning to the city, he packed his bags and moved to France where he enrolled in school to study under Alain Ducasse at Le Centre de Le Formacion.
When he returned from his studies, Menes had opened a new pop-up restaurant Le Comptoir and invited Wes to showcase his new skills. Deeply in debt after his wedding, travels and school, Wes needed more than three days of work a week to cover his bills, so he decided to set up an under the radar food operation outside his favorite coffee shops and do what he was trained to do: to cook.
Choosing tacos as his cuisine was a no brainer. Wes wanted something approachable, something familiar to the people of LA where he could fuse together his training as a gourmet chef without all the pretense of a fine dining establishment.
It wasn’t long before word got out that one of LA’s up and coming chefs was slinging street tacos from a corner in downtown. Word spread, momentum gathered and something good, which Wes named Guerrilla Tacos, was born.
Articles & Accolades
Best Taco in LA — Jonathan Gold - 2014, 2015, 2016
A kind of tasting-menu restaurant whose dishes happen to be composed on tortillas instead of on fancy plates.
Jonathan Gold - LA TIMES
[Wes Avila’s] creations shatter any notion of authenticity; in his hands, the corn tortilla becomes a palette for personal expression.
Bill Addison - Eater’s The National 38
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