Essential T: Flautas at Las Margaritas

Cream-covered deep-fried tacos from the heart of San Juan de Los Lagos

The very best Mexican foods start with the letter T—tacos, tortas, tlayudas. Here we showcase the tastiest “T” bites from the streets of L.A.


About a month ago, I had the fortune of visiting the city of San Juan de Los Lagos, Jalisco, the hometown of L.A.’s famed  street food truck, Mariscos Jalisco, and one of Mexico’s principle religious centers. Cheap hotels are everywhere and knockoff religious jewelry hustlers line the streets around the Basilica of San Juan de Los Lagos, where a small image of the Virgin Mary, or Cihuapilli in Nahuatl, draws pilgrims from all over Mexico, eager to pump pesos into the local economy.

We’re lucky: The region’s cuisine can be tasted all around the Boyle Heights area of L.A., where Mexican seafood restaurants and trucks (including the almighty Mariscos Jalisco) serve San Juan de Los Lagos-style fried shrimp tacos and ceviches. But to find the region’s beloved flautas (fried, rolled tacos), you need to visit Las Margaritas.

The flautas are filled with ground beef, but don’t be fooled: they aren’t taquitos, those fast food-style rolled tacos we associate with Mexican-American cuisine. In San Juan, this genetically identical twin is called a flauta, and at Las Margaritas it comes with an impressive pile of shredded lettuce, tomatoes, pickled pork rinds, and pork loin and leg cured in adobo, all covered in an avalanche of Mexican cream. Just add some of the house chile de arbol salsa and you’ve got your own personal party platter.

Las Margaritas, 2914 Whittier Blvd., Boyle Heights, 323-268-6902