The 25 Best Tacos in Los Angeles

Our spit-roasted, deep fried, tortilla-wrapped, salsa-topped, handheld guide to L.A.’s dish numero uno

Chefs and Restaurateurs, Dining Comments

No other American city can lay claim to such a delicious and varied slate of three-bite delights. From crunchy shrimp to luscious oxtail, here are 25 of the finest things to hit a tortilla this side of TJ.

Carnitas Tacos — Carnitas El Momo 

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Tender cuts of sticky confit pork are nestled in corn tortillas alongside pickled jalapeños. 2411 Fairmount St, Boyle Heights, 323-627-8540; Saturdays: Alameda St. near 135th, Compton; Saturdays and Sundays: 6015 S Avalon, Florence


Oxtail and Foie Gras Taco — Guerrilla Tacos

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Since its re-legalization, foie gras has ranked high among the gourmet ingredients flung from this truck’s window. Here it joins braised oxtail on warm tortillas.


Beef Birria Burrito — Burritos La PalmaTaco1

Yep, burritos—these traditionally petite ones anyway—are tacos! Hand-pressed flour tortillas cling to a powerful beef stew emboldened by dried chiles. 5120 N. Peck Rd., El Monte, 626-350-8286


Shrimp Tacos Dorados — Mariscos Jalisco 

Dorado2 A time-honored favorite, the fried shrimp taco (as in the taco is fried until it crackles) is drowned in a mild pepper salsa. 3040 E Olympic Blvd., Boyle Heights, 323-528-6701


Omega-2 Taco — Tacos Quetzalcoatl 

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A handmade corn tortilla supports the truck’s meat-free stew of sautéed greens, mushrooms, and fried cheese. Olympic Bl. near S. La Verne, East LA


Lamb Barbacoa Taco — Aqui Es Texcoco

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Tender cuts of pit-roasted rib, shoulder, and head come wrapped in a fresh tortilla with pulque-spiked salsa. 5850 S Eastern Ave., Commerce, 323-725-1429


Fish Taco — Ricky’s Fish Tacos

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In a fedora, Ricky doles out just the right amounts of crema agricola and cabbage to brighten his tempura-battered whitefish fillets. 3201 Riverside Dr., Los Angeles 90027


Carne Asada Taco — Tire Shop Taquería

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Chunks of steak grilled over mesquite are finished with creamy guacamole and salsa on a handmade tortilla. 4069 S Avalon Bl., Historic South Central


Chorreadas — Tacos La Carreta

At another tire shop destination, Mazatlán-style carne asada starts with a thick tortilla covered in hot lard and melted cheese, then steak, veggies and salsas piled high. 413 N Wilmington Ave., Compton, 562-500-5581


Octopus Taco — Petty Cash Taqueria

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A wafer of fried jack cheese sits beneath a charcoal-grilled tentacle drizzled with chile de arbol7360 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, 323-933-5300


Daily Special — Tacos Punta Cabras 

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Whatever these boys cook—be it king mushroom with bonito flakes or duck with foie gras parfait—it’s always a hit. 2311 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica, 310-917-2244


Cecina Taco — Tacos Cuernavaca 

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Cecina, or salt-cured meat, is a specialty in Southern Mexico. These taqueros slice it thin and serve it with a nutty chile de arbol salsa. Whittier Blvd. & Eastmont Ave., East Los Angeles, 323-377-4603


Goat Birría Taco — Birrieria Nochistlán

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Braised goat meat provides the bulk in this messy stew of chiles and spices; the scorching salsa roja is for hard-core palates only. 3200 E 4th St, Boyle Heights, 323-268-0319


Smoked Marlin Taco — Coni’Seafood 

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Who says you can’t have cheese with fish? A layer of the melted stuff blankets fatty marlin stewed with peppers, onions, and tomatoes. 3544 W. Imperial Hwy, Inglewood, 310-672-2339


Cochinita Pibil Taco — Chichén Itzá

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The subtly sweet note of banana leaf permeates each bite of the restaurant’s famed Yucatán-style roasted pork. 3655 S. Grand Ave, Historic South Central, 213-741-1075


Rosarito Beach-Style Carne Asada Taco —  Loqui

Take handmade flour tortillas rolled by a Tartine Bakery alum and mix them with the flavors of Rosarito Beach—mesquite grilled steak, pot beans, guacamole, and salsa—and you’ve got Spring Break on a tortilla. 8850 Washington Blvd., Culver City


Modern Mexican Tacos — Taco María
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Squid ink tints the heirloom corn tortilla, which is filled with fresh squid, toasted peanuts, and purslane. SoCo Collection, 3313 Hyland Ave., Costa Mesa, 714-538-8444


Al Pastor Taco — Leo’s Taco Truck

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These Mid City spitmasters dominate L.A.’s al pastor scene, ensuring that plenty of pineapple joins juicy hunks of caramelized pork. 1515 S La Brea Ave, Mid-City, 323-346-2001


Sea Urchin Chile Güero Taco — Cacao Mexicatessen

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A chile relleno taco on its own would be something, but this version—starring a fried chile güero—is amped with fresh uni. 1576 Colorado Blvd, Eagle Rock, 323-478-2791


Goat Barbacoa Taco — Gish Bac

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Three generations of expertise go into a pot of slow-roasted, chile-rubbed goat, ready for DIY assembly. 4163 W Washington Blvd, Arlington Heights, (323) 737-5050


Clam and Lardo Taco — B.S. Taquería

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Luscious strips of pure white pork fat mingle with buttery Manila clams for an elegant twist on surf and turf. 514 W 7th St, DTLA, 213-622-3744


Tongue Taco — Colonia Tacos Guisados

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Delicate, flavorful thin-sliced tongue gets an Alta California update with creamy Sriracha mayo and a bright guacamole. 11114 Whittier Blvd., Whittier, 562-699-2424


Relleno Negro Taco — La Flor De Yucatan

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Let’s talk turkey…tacos, here cooked in a black achiote paste that’s heady with toasted chiles and spices. 1800 S Hoover St, Pico-Union, 213-748-6090


Chorizo “Cachetada” — Mexicali Taco & Co.

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Devotees line up for what translates to a “slap on the cheek” of molten cheese, chorizo, and a fried egg. 702 N Figueroa St, Chinatown, 213-613-0416


Tacos Arabes — Los Originales Tacos Arabes De Puebla

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A pita-like flour tortilla imported from Puebla envelops spiced lamb doused in chipotle salsa. 3549 Olympic Bl., Boyle Heights

Photographs by Damon Caserez and Bill Esparza

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  • MrMAB

    I don’t mind that Tito’s didn’t make the list–I always thought they were overrated anyway–but where the he11 is Guisado’s?!?

  • The 99percent

    The best fish tacos in LA are at El Siete Mares, 3131 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026. Ricky’s fish tacos are good, but they are second to El Siete Mares. Apparently this author likes a lot of overpriced food trucks more then real authentic tacos from a real restaurant. Are we supposed to drive all around LA hoping we can find these trucks? The author needs to take the time to actually sit down at more restaurants/taco shacks then the few he chose. Food trucks are a cop out for a lazy author who just wants to walk down Abbott Kinney on food truck day to get half his article written. MrMAB…I agree with you Titos crunchy tacos are some of the worst tacos in LA – they are overpriced for what you get, the meat is crap, cheese costs extra (WHAT???), and the lines are full of people who apparently have no taste buds. The author of this article was 100% correct in leaving that dunghole off the list.

  • SanityPlease

    I can’t believe that some of my favorite LA tacos didn’t even make the top 25! Please check out birria or carne asada tacos at El Parian in the Pico Union area, or the amazing fish tacos at Tacos Baja Ensenada in East LA.

  • Original VH Fan

    Gina’s Tacos on the corner-ish of Pacific and Colorado in Glendale are the best in my opinion, original-classic-taco super flavorful hot-spicy tacos!

  • Taco Maven

    You rock Bill. I have to keep thanking you over and over again for hipping me to Mariscos Jalisco 6 years ago. Every time I eat that taco it’s like the first time – a crispy, tangy, addictive milagro! Saludos, Rima.