Chicago has its pizza, Seattle has its coffee, but L.A.? We have something better – we have tacos. While not the home of tacos, Los Angeles tacos are the best you can get in the United States, and you can find them anywhere. Get them off a food truck, get then in a Michelin-starred restaurant, get then from nice grandmothers in a corner hole in the wall – either way, they will be good. However, with so many tortilla-wrapped options abound in the city, if you are looking for some of the truly best taco options in Los Angeles, you need a guide to point you towards the best.
If you are looking for tacos and a show, there is only one place to go. Tacos 1986 in their flashy truck is one of the showiest taco stands in town. Not only are their Tijuana-style tacos worth going for, but it is great to watch them toss their adobada from the truck to hungry patron. It keeps everyone on their toes, if nothing else. Perhaps it is the energy they bring to the game, but it is the sort of truck you want to stick close to just to enjoy the show while you eat.
Carnitas El Momo
Good salsa and fresh guacamole are important components to a good taco, but we all know it is the meat that matters most. Carnitas El Momo knows that better than anyone. If you want a taco heaping with carnitas, Momo is your meat truck. While they offer a variety of meat options from oxtail to beef cheeks and carnitas, be sure to give the suritido taco a try – an offering that blends the shoulder, belly, and skin of the pig into something wholly amazing. Of course, any taco on the menu is so heaped with sopping meat that it leaves your taco bulging when you try to add anything else on.
Tire Shop Taqueria
As a South LA institution, the Tire Shop is certainly doing something right with their tacos. While tacos oozing their signature avocado salsa are easy to spot by the mess they result in, the thing that makes them truly unique is the made to order tortilla that is folded around them. You have tasted fresh tortillas in any taco shop worth their salsa, but you’ve never tasted one this fresh before. It makes tortillas even hours old taste like they were those shelf stable atrocities at your local grocery store.
While there is more on offer at this Eagle Rock staple than just tacos, Cacao offers up some high quality Mexican meets deli offerings that you won’t find anywhere else. While their sea urchin chile guero taco and tempura battered shrimp and chile relleno taco are definitely more expensive than the other tacos you can find in this city, you will find that the innovative ingredients are well worth it in terms of flavor.While you can get plenty of good tacos under three dollars elsewhere, these fancy tacos has ingredients and taco innovation that you will have a hard time finding elsewhere. It is worth the trek out to the neighborhood to enjoy every time. Although, you will definitely want to try the other offering than just the tacos here as well.
A taco is a taco, right? If you are used to the Tijuana-style tacos that are especially popular in Los Angeles, maybe it is time to expand your taco horizons by giving the Yucatecan-style tacos and other cuisine sold at the unassuming Chichen Itza a try. Their tacos come extra saucy and piled with pickled red onions, with their octopus tacos being especially popular among regular customers. If you are also a connoisseur of good tamales, this is a must-visit as well.
There are a lot of “old” taco stands in Los Angeles, but they aren’t really old. They just use old recipes. Now this doesn’t mean they are bad, but if you are looking for a taco stand that has had some staying power in the revolving door that Los Angeles has of opening and closing eateries, then you want to try Cielito Lindo. This veteran in the city’s taco scene has been serving up more than tacos since 1934. While admittedly their taquitos are the most popular thing here, their saucy tacos are just as exciting.
Starting as a food truck that wanted to bring gourmet food to the street, the food truck that was Guerilla Tacos has since been retired and replace with a stationary restaurant down by the Institute of Contemporary Art. They are still serving up their gourmet tacos, but with an expanded menu. Much like how it was on the truck, what tacos they are exactly serving up here changes regularly based on what ingredients are available fresh, guaranteeing that everything tastes its very best. When it is in season (sadly only really in the fall) we heartily recommend the sweet potato taco. It is everything you love about tacos but uses sweet potatoes in a way you would never expect. It is something wholly innovative in a category of food where huge innovations aren’t really something that happens.
Rumor has it that Boyle Heights Guisados was created to serve up food that reminded its owners of home. As the best tacos are often the simplest, Guisados serves as proof. Their tacos aren’t exactly Instagram-worthy, but they use the best ingredients to make such a nostalgic treat. The best part of Guisados is that you don’t need to choose which taco is for you – you can have them all. If you can’t choose what you want, they offer a sampler of six mini tacos that showcase all they have to offer. However, as the seafood taco isn’t included in that run, you will want to order one on the side. It is a meal in and of itself, but it will keep you coming back for your favorites every time.