Is there a more ubiquitous food in LA than tacos? Doubtful. From late-night 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 avoid those. These are the 30 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 across oceans to eat this thing, so let’s all be thankful it’s just right off the 5.
Tacos Quetzalcoatl operates in East LA only on the weekends (Olympic and Kern, specially), and wins the award for serving our favorite vegetarian taco in existence, the 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. Just be sure to get fully involved in their salsa and toppings bar - it’s the best in Los Angeles.
Coni’Seafood is a modern Mexican seafood restaurant in Inglewood - they also have a second location in Del Rey - that serves 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.
From the moment you step inside Los Cinco Puntos, it’s clear you’re in for a special experience. The deli/market in Boyle Heights is a true neighborhood institution and sells everything from cheeseburgers to breakfast burritos to hard-to-find spices and chiles, but you’re here for the tacos - and so is everyone else. The carnitas is their speciality, and while it’s some of the best we’ve had in LA, the crispy chicharron is even better. Frankly though, when the tortillas are as thick and fantastic as they are at Los Cinco Puntos, we’ll drive across the city to eat any kind of taco they’re wrapped around.
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 pork belly taco, with smoked trout roe, charred habanero, and chives.
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 - because Tacos Y Birria La Unica’s tacos are good enough to deserve 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 corn tortillas and topped with fennel, caramelized onions, and a spicy 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.
It’s a competitive field when it comes to Downtown tacos, but Sonoratown has managed to take a tiny space on Los Angeles St. and turn it into a full-out institution. Their house-made flour tortillas literally melt in your mouth, and the costilla (grilled steak) is the best you’ll find in town. You can certainly go for their regular tacos, but our move is the caramelo, which is about double the size and comes topped with salsa roja, avocado, and cabbage.
We’ll admit Los Angeles doesn’t really come close to San Diego in terms of 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.
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.
Plain and simple, the tacos at this East LA truck are unlike anything else in the city. Served with roasted pork on a giant tortilla that almost resembles a pita, the food at Tacos Arabes traces back to the city of Puebla, where 19th-century Arab immigrants intertwined kebabs and shawarma into central Mexican cuisine. Our move is to go for the Especiale, which is their traditional tacos arabes topped with cheese and avocado. At first glance, $4 might seem like a lot for one taco, but once you see the true size of these things, you’ll realize you only need one. Or maybe two.
Located on a residential side street in Boyle Heights, El Momo is a tiny trailer hooked to a 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.
Birrieria Gonzalez is a family-run truck specializing in goat birria, and while they have multiple locations around town, we like the South Central one simply because there’s a shaded patio with a flat-screen TV playing soccer matches. The birria itself is incredible here (it’s the only kind of meat they serve), so you can’t really go wrong with anything, but if you’re on a taco crawl and trying to conserve room, get the quesataco. It’s similar to their regular tacos, but with a layer of crispy griddled cheese lining the inside that takes the birria to a completely different level. Just be sure to top it all off with their spicy house red salsa.
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 simply by serving 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.
Located in the aggressively corporate Platform development in Culver City, Loqui could’ve easily just been another run-of-the-mill taco spot people eat at while they shop for high-end hand soap. Instead, it’s become our absolute go-to for 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.
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 Taqueria 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 (but closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays), this tiny stand has long lines, but the wait will be worth it.
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. There’s also a Venice location if you prefer to do a little less pondering.
Having only opened in May 2019, Papi Tacos is easily one of the newest taco spots in the entire city, but it only takes one bite of their goat birria to realize they’re on to something major. While you can come to this tiny taco window in Jefferson Park and load up on their fantastic tacos dorados, that would be a mistake. Go for the OG Plate instead, which gets you a taco dorado, well as a goat birria-filled mulita, quesataco, quesadilla, and consomé all for $11.99. They also make churros that should not be missed.
There are plenty of traditional taco spots on this list - Sky’s Gourmet is definitely not one of them. This 25-year-old, order-at-the-counter spot on Pico combines Southern soul food and tacos in ways we didn’t realize were possible. There are tacos involving cajun shrimp, filet mignon, and crawfish with spiced tortillas, all topped with “sassy sauce.”
Aqui es Texcoco is an East LA institution serving lamb barbacoa you need in your life. Immediately. Located in Commerce, Texcoco is a full-scale restaurant with great beer, a festive atmosphere, and karaoke on Thursdays and Fridays.
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.
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 - they’re a bit better at their Highland Park and Playa Vista spots - 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.
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 best thing at Mexicali is the Vampiro Taco - part taco, part quesadilla, and all the garlic sauce in the world.
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. It’s only open Thursday-Sunday, but it is open late.
Located in another tire shop parking lot in South Central, Tacos Los Guichos is a tiny taco truck that serves the kind of crispy and slightly sweet al pastor that keeps us up at night. The tiny truck is open all-day starting at 8:30am, but if your schedule allows it, head over after the sun goes down. That’s when the al pastor comes fresh off the vertical spit outside the truck and causes us even more insomnia than the daytime version. Cash only.
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 on staying 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.
Operating outside of a Food 4 Less in North Hills, San Marcos is a taco truck serving fantastic beef birria tacos that people wait in line for hours to eat. Open only until 3pm every day, these are the kind of cheesy, greasy tacos ideal for those foggy Sunday mornings when you need something to soak up the regret from last night. We usually order a few regular tacos, one taco dorado (crunchy shell), and a giant queso-taco for the grand finale. That said, whatever you decide to do, make sure to get a consomé as well - it’s one of the best versions in town and perfect for dipping your tacos into. Cash only.
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 Florence and you’ll find a tiny stand serving excellent brisket tacos. Open 5pm-12am on weekdays (1am on weekends), the fantastic little spot should be filed under late-night taco stands you need to hit immediately.
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 further up. 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.