Is there a more overwhelming food group in LA than tacos? Doubtful. From late-night taco stands in East LA to high-end taquerias owned by chefs you recognize from TV, to say that LA’s taco options are unlimited still feels like an understatement. But let’s be clear - this is a very good problem to have.
But for every excellent Eastside taco truck, there are three bad ones your landlord keeps recommending because he’s never left Marina Del Rey. We’re here to make sure you only end up at the very best ones. Here are the 25 best taco spots in Los Angeles.
Crowning the best taco in Los Angeles is like trying to explain to your mom she’s texting you through her email - you can’t. But for our money, there isn’t a better all-around taco eating experience than Mariscos Jalisco in Boyle Heights. This tiny seafood truck on an industrial stretch of Olympic Blvd. only has one taco on the menu, but it is glorious. It’s the tacos de camaron, and it’s a deep-fried shell stuffed with massive shrimp and topped with salsa and fresh avocado. We would travel oceans to eat this thing, so let’s all be thankful it’s just right off the 5.
Coni’Seafood is a modern Mexican seafood restaurant in Inglewood with truly fantastic food across the board. However, today we’re talking about those marlin tacos. They are special. Very special. Like get in your car right now and drive an hour to put them in your mouth special.
Guerrilla tacos used to be one of LA’s best taco trucks, and now that they have a permanent space in the Arts District, they’re one of LA’s best taco restaurants. The menu changes pretty frequently, but there are some staples you can always rely on. One is the sweet potato taco, and the other is the fantastic pocho taco, which is technically a wild boar taco, but it tastes like the world’s best Cheesy Gordita Crunchwrap.
Located just a few blocks down from Mariscos Jalisco, it’d be pretty easy to skip over this truck on your way to Mariscos’ shrimp tacos. But that would be a huge mistake. Even though Tacos Y Birria La Unica is the newest spot on this list (it opened in September 2017), the tacos are good enough for a pilgrimage of their own. Your order here is the goat birria in a quesataco (a taco with melted cheese on the shell), but the regular tacos dorados (served in deep-fried shells) are a must-order as well. Each of the excellent house salsas on the outside of the truck are made for a specific type of protein, so be sure to get the correct rundown from the owners. Cash only.
Holbox is the first food stall you see when you walk into the Mercado La Paloma food hall south of downtown. Everything at this seafood spot is great, but their scallop taco is the real star. Four perfectly-seared scallops come wrapped in thick house-made corn tortillas topped with fennel, caramelized onions, and spicy chile sauce. It’s perfect, and though the $14 (for two) price tag might seem steep at first, just remember how much scallops usually cost at restaurants.
We’ll admit Los Angeles doesn’t really come close to San Diego when it comes to fish tacos. But we do have Ricky’s, and that counts for a whole lot. The taco truck on Riverside Drive in Los Feliz serves some of our favorite fish tacos not just in LA, but all of California. Expect simple tacos without any crazy toppings or cover-ups. Just you and the fish, alone at last.
It’s a competitive field when comes to opening a taco shop downtown, but Sonoratown has managed to take a tiny space on a sleepy stretch of Los Angeles St. and turn it into a staple. Their house-made flour tortillas melt in your mouth and the mesquite-grilled carne asada is the best you’ll find in town. Also, their bean and cheese burrito is just as good.
This place might be close to USC (in the Mercado La Paloma food hall), but it couldn’t be less of a hangover spot. Chichen Itza serves fantastic Yucatan-style Mexican food, and our love for this place starts and ends with their cochinita pibil. We wouldn’t blame you if you just got a big plate of this roasted pork over a banana leaf, but the taco version is definitely the way to go.
Salazar is one of our all-time favorite Los Angeles restaurants. And while their giant plates of meat, boozy horchatas, and fantastic outdoor patio in Frogtown have a lot to do with that, the biggest reason is the tacos. The al pastor is our go-to, but as long as those house-made tortillas (made onsite behind a glass window) are wrapped around the outside, we don’t really care what’s inside.
Located in the aggressively corporate Platform development in Culver City, Loqui could’ve easily just been another run-of-mill taco spot people eat at while they shop for high-end hand soap. Instead, it’s become our absolute go-to for eating tacos on the Westside. The flour tortillas are thick and chewy and the spicy chicken proves that chicken tacos don’t have to be boring. Be sure to put the salsa seca on everything.
Tacos Quetzalcoatl splits its time between downtown (on weekdays, at Central Ave & 8th St.) and East LA (on weekends, at Olympic and Kern), and wins the award for best vegetarian street tacos in the city. You simply won’t find a better meatless taco in LA than Quetzalcoatl’s Taco Omega-2. If you are looking for meat, their lamb barbacoa is tremendous, and if you ask, they’ll fry cheese right into the side of tortilla.
Located on a residential side street in Boyle Heights, El Momo is a tiny trailer hooked to a white van. It’s also home to a kind of carnitas you can’t get anywhere else in town - a combination of pork shoulder and crispy skin. The result is a savory and crunchy taco you’ll think about in the shower.
Few places do Baja-style Mexican food better than Mexicali. What started as a tiny food truck adjacent to the 110 is now a taco shop in Chinatown perfect for a quick lunch hour drop-in, and the results are excellent. And while we would order anything off the small menu, the breadwinner at Mexicali is the Vampiro Taco - part taco, part quesadilla, and all the garlic sauce in the world.
Teddy’s Red Tacos is a truck located about 15 minutes south of downtown, sitting right on some (hopefully-not-in-use) railroad tracks. There’s no menu, they only cook beef birria, and before you even say hi to the cashier, they’ll have started making you a deluxe plate, which comes with a quesadilla, molita, tostada, taco, pozole, and chips and salsa for only $10. Teddy’s food is big and gooey and the kind of soul-curing meal you need as you sit and wonder if that train will actually come.
The black-and-orange taco truck in the parking lot of a gas station on the corner of La Brea and Venice has become a member of LA’s taco elite for simply having an al pastor taco that’s worth waiting in that 45-minute line for. Refilling your gas tank in Mid-City was not supposed to taste this good.
Aqui es Texcoco is an East LA institution serving lamb barbacoa you need immediately in your life. Located in Commerce, Texcoco is a full-scale restaurant with great beer, a festive atmosphere, and karaoke on Friday and Saturdays.
Gish Bac’s goat barbacoa hits the table looking much more like a burrito than a taco, but a taco it definitely is. And it is wonderful. We like a lot of things at this colorful Oaxacan restaurant in Mid-City (the carne asada is another must), but for us, that barbacoa is the reason you need to be eating here. Just call ahead to make sure they’re cooking it that day.
There are plenty of traditional taco spots on this list - Sky’s Gourmet is definitely not one of them. This 20-year-old, order-at-the-counter spot on Pico combines Southern soul food and tacos in ways we didn’t realize you could. There are tacos involving cajun shrimp, filet mignon, and crawfish with spiced tortillas all topped with “sassy sauce.”
If we were judging Guisados solely on their original location in Boyle Heights or their long-running spot on Sunset in Echo Park, we’d probably put this order-at-the-counter spot in our top three. Unfortunately, as they’ve expanded across the city, with new locations from West Hollywood to Burbank, the overall quality hasn’t been consistent. So if you’re craving their mini taco sampler, just make sure you head to one of those first two locations.
Tire Shop Tacqueria makes incredible carne asada, but that’s not even our favorite part of this place. Our favorite part is that Tire Shop Tacqueria isn’t its real name. That’s just what people tend to call it because it’s in the parking lot of a used tire store, and eventually it stuck. Open from 6-11pm (midnight on the weekends), this tiny stand has long line, but the wait will be worth it.
The breakfast taco belongs in its own category, and Homestate in Los Feliz makes the best ones in Los Angeles. The weekend crowds at this tiny, order-at-the-counter spot are frankly terrible, but if you power through, you’ll be rewarded with an eggs, bacon, and potato taco that’ll cure whatever pains you have from last night. If you’re looking to take the heat up a notch, the chorizo-filled Guadalupe taco is your move. Also, there’s now a second location in Highland Park.
This graffitied taco truck across the street from a McDonald’s has a lot of things you need to order (the bacon-wrapped shrimp are special), but you can’t leave here without getting at least one cecina taco - thinly sliced, salt-cured beef with a chile de arbol salsa on top. Open from 7pm - 4am every day.
La Flor De Yucatan is a Mayan bakery in Pico-Union serving Yucatan baked goods and tacos that have no business being this excellent. Just don’t plan to stay too long - this tiny shop is order-at-the-counter and only has a few tables to go around. Your order is the relleno negro taco: turkey meat that’s been braised in a mixture of spices, seeds, and chiles that make it unlike anything else in town.
You’re at Bar Ama for the puffy tacos. And here, you might just be getting a better version than what you’ll find in San Antonio. It’s also important to know that they’re not even listed on the menu - ask for them, and you shall receive. Our order is always the shrimp puffy taco, but you can’t go wrong with the chorizo or beef picadillo either. Power move: dipping them all in Bar Ama’s equally amazing queso.
Had your fill of carnitas, al pastor, chorizo, and carne asade tacos already? Head down the 110 a couple miles to Walnut Park and you’ll find a tiny stand serving excellent brisket tacos. Open 7pm-2am on weekdays, and 7pm-4am on weekends, the fantastic little spot should be filed under late-night taco stands you need to hit immediately.