It took four months instead of the six weeks they were expecting to reopen, but Tacos Guaymas on 38th Street is back in business.
A fire on Feb. 16 shuttered the popular taqueria near Tacoma Mall. An oily rag spontaneously combusted in the back of the restaurant and made a mess of the kitchen. The back area of the kitchen was fried, the menu board melted from the heat of the flames. Smoke damaged some of the booths. Owner Salvador Sahagun told me in March he thought it would take a month to repair the damage. As is so true in the restaurant world, one month usually turns into somewhere between three to nine months (wouldn't it be great if an app could convert restaurant time into real-world time? I'd pay at least $4.99 for that app).
I visited today and saw the new menu board and the dining room looked like it had been fluffed and buffed. The same employees were working behind the counter. And the carnitas burrito was still too big for one human to consume in one sitting.
If you've never visited Tacos Guaymas, here are reasons why you should add it to your dining list: It's like taco truck food, just minus the wheels and steering wheel and big, comfy booths instead of eating in your car. Slow-simmered meats, whole pinto beans, garlicky rice. The burritos don't come loaded with shredded iceberg. Yellow cheese is not a menu staple. There's a self-serve bar with a broad selection of salsas, and pickled veggies, and as many limes as you can squeeze on your tacos. Garlic and chiles are used generously. They're not stingy with the cilantro.
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My hallmark of a quality taco truck or taqueria always is a carnitas taco or burrito. When carnitas is properly slow cooked, it's sublime. When it's not, it's a tragic mess of a chewy disaster. At Guaymas, the carnitas burrito ($5.50-$6.50) comes with pork that is tender and succulent, then griddle fried right before being stuffed into an oversized flour tortilla. In goes rice and whole pinto beans, pico de gallo and cilantro. Order it super and get a heavy smear of guacamole and sour cream. It's folded up into a big delicious mess and wrapped in foil.
Tacos GuaymasWhere: 2620 S. 38th St., TacomaInfo: 253-471-2224Web: http://tacosguaymas.com/tacostacoma/index.htmlHours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. dailyOther locations: 10105 South Tacoma Way, Tacoma, 253-983-1805 and 1148 72nd St. E., Tacoma, 253-537-2525.