It took me 14 years of living in Los Angeles before I finally caught taco fever. What took me so long? Perhaps it was all too easy. Too accessible. Tacos on every corner, like living close to the beach but never going.
Where was the thrill of the hunt? Instead of stopping at my local taco truck, I would drive right by to some obscure part of town for kosher Korean schwarma wrapped in a ramen pita served by the hottest chef for a one-night, by-invitation-only event.
Everything changed when it soon became clear that I might be leaving LA for a land known for some very sad and limited Mexican options: New York City.
I had to act fast. I had to inhale every relevant taco within arm’s reach (I have very long arms). Don’t make the same mistake. Enjoy these 12 delectable taco spots:
Ricky’s is, hands down, my favorite taco in LA. Granted, fish and shrimp (and occasionally lobster) are the only taco options served, but they’re so curse-word-inducing awesome, you won’t miss the red meat. Ricky’s location has jumped around a bit over the years, but currently you can find his truck parked on Virgil in East Hollywood.
Mondo Taco offers inventive tacos from around the world, and it’s quite a delicious journey. While there are several dozen tasty options (all served using high quality meats in soft handmade tortillas), my two faves were the Angry Chicken (buffalo chicken and blue cheese) and the French Kiss (shredded pork, Dijon mushroom cream).
Taco Zone is definitely my favorite traditional taco truck. I often find taco meats to be on the super dry side (hence the need for salsas), but both the pastor (pork) and the asada (beef) were juicy and tender. Parked on the side of Vons in Echo Park, Taco Zone has quite the late-night following (the truck opens at 8:30 pm), so come early to beat the rush and enjoy your $1.25 delight. Make sure to sample the quite extensive salsa/toppings bar.
Guisados is the trendy taco spot that seems to appear on every Top Taco list. The six mini-taco sampler is the way to go. Here’s why I love them: the handmade tortillas are soft and on the thicker side so they don’t break when you fold them (a pet peeve of mine), and the meats are all braised lovingly and served in delicious sauces. No dry crumbles of carne asada here (another pet peeve of mine).
Two fish taco places on one list, you ask? If they’re both truly excellent, por qué no? An often-cited competitor of Ricky’s is Los Feliz’s Best Fish Taco in Ensenada, but I think the tacos at East LA’s Tacos Bajas are slightly better … and only 99 cents on Wednesdays! TBE also makes great salsas and offers AYCE seasoned yellow peppers, which go nicely with the fish.
Sky’s Gourmet Tacos is a small sit-down Mexican joint on Pico, but don’t eat there (the ambiance is depressing). Get the fantastic tacos (and really good quesadillas) to go. In addition to the perfectly seasoned meats, Sky’s throws its tortillas on the grill, too. This gives them a slight meat grease sheen and a tasty char flavor.
My second favorite taco truck is El Flamin’, who makes a super moist al pastor (pastor can dry out, sitting on the spit for too long). And besides the truly excellent do-it-yourself salsa bar, El Flamin’ offers an over-the-top stoner menu for you creative types.
Taqueria Los Anaya is a very pleasant sit-down establishment in West Adams — so when the waitress sets the plate down, try not shoving everything into your mouth all at once. Los Anaya has some of the best guacamole I’ve ever had; however, the can’t-miss items are definitely the chicken mole and shrimp tacos.
For the best tacos in LA, you have to head east. Mixto Comida Latina is casual yet sleek little spot in Silverlake offering slightly upscale yet authentic burritos, tortas, and tacos. The tacos are $3 a piece, but you’re paying for superb meat quality (free-range chicken and grass-fed beef). Meat snobs inquire within!
This casual Mexican grill is the perfect spot to grab a quick lunch if you work/live on the west side. I was really surprised to discover how tasty everything at Tacomiendo was. Besides having some great carnitas, I really loved the crispy shredded beef taco dorado. The salsas are nice and spicy, too.
This truck parked next to a Walgreens is where the Echo Park trendsetters (let’s give the term “hipster” a rest) descend to soak up their nights of debauchery. The tasty meats are seep-through-the-paper-plate juicy. And for only $1.25 each, you can rest assured that, after a pleasant evening of mixology, you only need a few bucks to fill your belly.
Leo’s seems to be the most popular taco truck in LA. Located on Venice and La Brea, Leo’s is known for serving LA’s best al pastor. I would actually say the carne asada is better than the somewhat dry, but still very good pastor. Tacos are only $1 a piece, so order a bunch. And make sure to order a mulita (mini quesadilla using corn tortillas); they’re truly a masterpiece here.
Bar Ama (for upscale, puffy tacos), El Chato (excellent tacos but the line at the truck is too long/slow, and the portions too small), Mexicali Taco & Co. (I found the tacos to be just okay, but the garlicky al pastor quesadilla is truly delicious) and Los Cinco Puntos (voted #1 taco in America by Rachael Ray; however I only found them pretty good).
Bun Boy has been obsessed with the LA restaurant scene since he moved here 12 years ago. He visits about 4 restaurants a week, mostly never repeating any. Even in these wavering economic times, he absolutely refuses to give up one of his favorite pastimes.