September 06 2018

The Standard Guide to LA Tacos

Los Angeles-Guides
You’d be hard-pressed to find a better city for tacos in America than Los Angeles. From regional Mexican, Alta California, Baja-style and beyond, its vibrant taco culture celebrates a limitless range of styles and techniques. Whether you’re craving traditional tacos al pastor or a full-on Cal-Mex tasting, here are our top picks for chowing down in the City of Angels.

Tire Shop Taqueria

Literally a taqueria in a tire shop parking lot, and it's Angela Dimayuga's favorite taco spot in LA. There you'll find very legit tacos, next to what you might find in Mexico City. Their outdoor coal grill provides that char grill flavor you love on carne asada, al pastor, and chorizo. The other major perks are the fresh, handmade tortillas, so even enjoying a cheese quesadilla is a must. Try it with their pot of stewed pinto beans, soft cooked onions, and salsas, and wash it down with a Mexican Orange Fanta.

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Guisado’s

Since opening up their first spot about a decade ago, this Boyle Heights staple has multiplied across the city, making it a local favorite for many Angelenos. Order a sampler from their menu of more than 15 kinds of tacos for an easy $6.99. Don’t skip the cochinita pibil or the mole poblano while you’re at it.

Carnitas El Momo

Sure, there are plenty of delicious carnitas tacos in LA, but none are considered to be as life-changing as those from Carnitas El Momo, where Ramulo “Momo” Acosta is likened to a god amongst taqueros. When you order his Guanajuato-style carnitas, you can pick your favorite cut or opt for a taco surtido, a delightful assortment of all.

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Taco Maria

Take a scenic joyride to Costa Mesa to hit Taco Maria, the elevated Cal-Mexican spot from lauded chef Carlos Salgado. Go big with the hyper seasonal set menu, which includes inventive dishes like taco de esturión (smoked sturgeon, peanut, chile morita, cucumber) and gallina pinta (ranger chicken, black beans, hominy, shishitos).

Punta Cabras

The best—and most underrated—fish tacos are served at Punta Cabras, an unassuming Santa Monica taqueria. The perfection lies in the simplicity of their preparation and ingredients: tempura-fried fish, housemade crema, and slaw on a handmade tortilla.

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Coni’s Seafood

Connie Cossio, the owner of this Inglewood joint, hails from Acaponeta, Nayarit, a.k.a. the seafood capital of Mexico. Here, the smoked marlin tacos with melted cheese are the move. Enjoy them alongside other fruits de mer like ceviche marinero, camarones al mojo de ajo, and pescado zarandeado.

Mexicali Taco Co.

Vampiris, Chef Edras Ochoa’s take on a traditional meat quesadilla is filled with carne asada and doused with garlic aioli, are Mexicali Taco Co.’s claim to fame. According to legend, the dish was first made to scare away vampires that supposedly haunted the Mexican state of Sinaloa.

Mariscos Jalisco

Revered Los Angeles Times food critic Jonathan Gold, a champion of the city’s rich street food culture, could often be spotted outside of this legendary Boyle Heights taco truck chowing down. His go-to order? The crunchy shrimp tacos, wrapped in a white corn tortilla, fried whole, and topped with avocado and tomato-cabbage salsa.

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Leo’s Taco Truck

For the coveted title of best tacos al pastor, we’d go to bat for Leo’s Taco Truck. This Mexico City-style truck, which began in the parking lot of a La Brea gas station, serves up sweet marinated spit-grilled pork with chunks of pineapple like no one else. For maximum efficiency, refill your car while you eat up.

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Guerilla Tacos

In 2012, Chef Wes Avila ditched the world of French fine dining to start Guerilla Tacos, firstly as a roaming pop-up and now as a brick and mortar in DTLA. His flavor vernacular is anything but traditional: on any given day, you can sample tasty combos like pork char siu (raw tomatillo chile, pickled pineapple, chives), and cauliflower (burnt tomato chile, medjool dates, castelvetrano olives, pine nuts, parsley).

Writer
Lizzie Noonan
With Assistance From
Care of Chan