The 12 Best Tacos in L.A., According to L.A. Chefs

Just in time for National Taco Day (or any day)

L.A. is better than a lot of places for a lot of reasons, but the breadth of variety and sheer quality of our taco offerings is way up there at the top of the list. Everyone has their favorite spot and favorite menu item at that spot, whether it’s a truck serving al pastor straight from the spit in a car wash parking lot or a fancy brick-and-mortar serving tacos garnished with heirloom radishes and mesclun.


To create a definitive(ish) list we asked local people who make really good food for a living to weigh in with their faves. In a city like L.A., you can never have too many taco lists. Or tacos.

Bryant Ng, Cassia 

Where: El Huarachito (3010 N. Broadway, Lincoln Heights)

What: Tacos al Gobernador

“It’s an off-menu item called ‘Tacos al Gobernador.’ Not only is it one of my favorite tacos in L.A., but it’s one of my favorite things to eat on the planet. Eat this before you die and you’ve experienced one of the tastiest things ever cooked. It’s a combination of textures with the crispy cheese that’s griddled on the outside of the tortilla, and the melted cheese mixed with perfectly seasoned juicy shrimp and peppers folded inside the tortilla. Whoever made the rule that you shouldn’t mix cheese and seafood, clearly never had anything remotely like this. Every time I eat it, it’s like I’m experiencing it for the first time and I’m still shocked by how awesome it is…literally every. time. I. eat. it. Add some of the spicy salsa (ask for the very spicy salsa) on top, a squeeze of lime for some acidity, taste it, and you’ll be back again next week. While you’re there, also get the Milanesa con Papas, my go-to order.”

Vartan Abgaryan, 71 Above

Where: Ricky’s Fish Tacos (3061 Riverside Dr., Griffith Park)

What: The fish taco

Ricky makes shrimp tacos and fish tacos, but my hands-down favorite is The Fish Taco. It’s incredibly fresh fish, moist, and flavorful, with a light, hot, and crispy batter, fried to order. The slaw is crispy and fresh with options of sauce to top. It’s everything an Ensenada-style fish taco should be. Try eating only one, I dare you.”

Holly Jivin, The Bazaar

Where: Tacos Juanitas (Corner of Western and 3rd, Koreatown)

What: Take your pick

“My pick is Tacos Juanitas. It’s on 3rd Street, not too far away from the intersection with Western. It was the first taco truck I ever experienced in L.A. when I moved here in 2008 to open The Bazaar. *Note: if you drive a few blocks up (right by the Laundromat), still on the left of 3rd Street, there is an amazing lady that has the best Mexican street corn, cash only, out of a shopping cart and in igloo coolers. Not a true experience without the two combined!”

Jonathan Aviles, Salazar

Where: Kermes Taco Grill (287 S. Atlantic Blvd., Suite B, East Los Angeles)

What: Tinga tacos

“This place specializes in guisados (stewed meats). The tacos are so simple but full of flavor.”

Louis Tikaram, E.P. & L.P.

Where: El Jarocho Tacos (4069 S. Avalon Blvd., Historic South-Central)

What: Carne asada tacos

“Tijuana-style carne asada tacos from a nightly pop-up taco stand located in the parking lot of the El Jarocho tire shop. The tortillas are made to order as you wait and the meat is cooked on a blazing grill you can smell from down the street!”

Where: El Chato Taco Truck (5300 E. Olympic Blvd., East Los Angeles)

What: Lengua and tripe tacos

“I love el Chato for the lengua (beef tongue) and tripa (tripe) tacos. Out of all the late-night trucks in my ‘hood this is my fave! Its always busy so the tacos are fresh and the salsa roja is smoky and spicy.”

Where: Ricky’s Fish Tacos (3061 Riverside Dr., Griffith Park)

What: Fish tacos

“The best Ensenada-style fish taco I have ever eaten in my life and I was in Ensenada last week! Ricky is the real deal. The passion and care he puts into every fish, shrimp, and special lobster taco is amazing—the tastiest and crunchiest batter, softest tortilla, and crispiest cabbage result it one of L.A.’s tastiest tacos, in my opinion.”

Bricia Lopez, Guelaguetza 

Where: Guerrilla Tacos (2000 E. 7th St., downtown)

What: Sweet potato tacos and braised beef tacos

“Guerrilla Tacos in the Arts District is my favorite L.A. taco spot -Wes, in my opinion is L.A.’s master taquero. Their sweet potato and braised beef tacos are addicting!”

Ivan Vasquez, Madre and El Nopal

Where: Baja California Fish Tacos (4749 Artesia Blvd., Lawndale)

What: Fish tacos

“It is hard to find a great fish taco in L.A.—the fish taco at Baja California Fish Taco in Lawndale is my favorite. It is simple but has excellent flavor and consistency with creamy salsa, cabbage, and pico de gallo. I like the roasted jalapeño on the side!”

Where: Leo’s Tacos (various locations)

What: Al pastor tacos

“The al pastor tacos on the weekends reminds me of Oaxaca City style al pastor—the best I’ve had in Los Angeles!”

Charles Olalia, Ma’am Sir

Where: Sonoratown (208 E. 8th St., downtown)

What: Caramelo with al pastor

“Anything in Sonoratown is fantastic. Caramelo is a big toasted taco with cheese, beans, and red sauce. The taco is toasted yet still somewhat pleasantly chewy once it soaks all the juices from the ingredients.”

Ria Barbosa, Paramount Coffee Project

Where: Mariscos Jalisco (801 E. 10th St., downtown; and other locations)

What: Shrimp tacos

“It’s texturally delightful and delicious! And with the avocado and salsa slathered on top, it’s the perfect bite.”

Nyesha Arrington, Native

Where: Tacos El Negro (5720 Imperial Hwy., Suite Q, South Gate)

What: Tacos De Labio

“It’s a fantastic beef lip taco, literally the most delicious taco I have had in a very long time, with the perfect mix of delicious braised beef. Definitely worth the trek to South Gate.”

RELATED: The 25 Best Tacos in Los Angeles

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