Is there a more ubiquitous food in LA than tacos? Doubtful. From late-night stands in East LA to family-run taquerias with some of the freshest seafood in town, 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 not-so-good ones your landlord keeps recommending because he’s never left Marina del Rey. We’re here to avoid those. These are the best taco spots in Los Angeles.
Keep in mind that the search for LA’s best tacos is never-ending. We’d highly recommend checking out these taco guides from Eater, LA Taco, and Timeout, all of which helped us discover more favorites. Have a go-to spot we missed? Shoot us an email or slide into our DMs - we’d love to hear from you.
Crowning the best taco in Los Angeles is like trying to explain to that one relative that he’s texting you through his 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 (and now also in Mid-City, Pomona, and Downtown LA as well).
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 neighborhood institution that 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. Carnitas is their specialty, 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.
Holbox is the first food stall you see when you walk into the Mercado La Paloma food hall south of Downtown. Across the board, this tiny counter has some of the tastiest seafood you’ll find in LA, and when it comes to their tacos, focus on the octopus and (especially) the scallops. Two perfectly seared scallops come wrapped in a thick corn tortilla and topped with fennel, caramelized onions, and a spicy sauce. It’s perfect, and though the $8 price tag might seem steep at first, just remember how much scallops usually cost at restaurants. Available for takeout and delivery, as well as patio dining.
While most of the city is either sleeping or suffering through some 7am workout class they pretend to like, Asadero Chikali is busy preparing a variety of warm stews for breakfast tacos. Mornings at this East LA food truck consist of delicious tacos de guisado that leave us breaking a healthy sweat at 10am (kinda like that 7am cycling class). These perfect morning tacos come with the truck’s handmade flour tortillas and include fillings like shredded beef with roasted potatoes, chicharron cooked in tangy salsa, and spicy Mexican chorizo with scrambled eggs. You can also enjoy the same tortillas with a classic Norteño carne asada, which comes well seasoned with a nice smoky flavor from the grill. Make sure to grab a cheesy vampiro too - corn tortillas that get grilled into a crispy disc before receiving handfuls of melty cheese and more grilled asada on top.
Tacos Y Birria La Unica is the food truck for those in search of all things birria. With both beef and goat versions on the menu, you can enjoy either stew in a taco, quesataco, mulita, or even just on its own when visiting this Boyle Heights spot. The goat here is delicious, and the cash-only truck’s rich consommé does an excellent job of masking the meat’s natural gaminess. Our go-to order is the divine trio: goat birria taco, beef birria taco, and goat birria quesataco. When it comes to the quesatacos, La Unica gently fries their homemade tortillas before stuffing them with juicy birria meat and melted cheese. The quesataco’s cheese oozes out from the fried tortilla and has us questioning why we haven’t been stuffing our late-night quesadillas with goat all along. Try a bit of their habanero salsa for an extra kick too.
Tamales Elena Y Antojitos is an Afro-Mexican restaurant in Bell Gardens with an incredible menu filled with things like red pozole, pork tamales, and beef tongue guisado - all specialties from the owner’s home state of Guerrero. The biggest highlight on the menu, however, is the pescadilla. Thin, crispy, and filled with perfectly stewed fish, we recommend getting at least three orders - one for you now, one for you in five minutes, and one for five minutes after that.
There’s something special about tacos that call for low-and-slow cooking, and even more so when we don’t have to deal with the whole waiting overnight part. Luckily for us, the taqueros at West Covina’s Taquizas Gilberto are real masters at making beautifully roasted Hidalgo-style birria and lamb barbacoa, both of which can you can get as tacos, mulitas, or the super unique taco dinamita. These tacos resemble crispy flautas but on a larger scale, and are generously filled with tender meat. The slow-roasted birria softly pulls apart when you bite through the fried tortilla and tastes great with the spicy guajillo salsa on the side. We also recommend their excellent cups of consommé, which you can eat as a spicy soup to clear your sinuses or as a dipping sauce for these slender tacos.
It’s a competitive field when it comes to Downtown tacos (or tacos anywhere here, for that matter), but Sonoratown has managed to take a tiny space on Los Angeles St. and turn it into a full-out institution. The legendary house-made flour tortillas melt in your mouth, and their charred grilled steak is smoky, sweet, and the exact right degree of saltiness. 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.
This classic spot in Inglewood, with a second location in Del Rey, serves some of our favorite seafood in all of LA. You can’t go wrong with any of the citrusy ceviches or aguachiles, but make sure the savory marlin tacos and whole grilled snook in a rich, salty house sauce hit the table as well. Both locations have expansive back patios and live music - perfect for a casual big group meal outside.
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 the traditional taco Arabe topped with cheese and avocado. Once you see the heft of these things, you’ll realize you might only need one. Or maybe two.
Los Dorados LA
Los Dorados LA is a tiny truck that only makes one thing - taco dorados - but they are among the best versions we’ve ever eaten, period. Crispy, deep-fried rolled tacos that are doused in house-made salsa roja, guacamole, and cotija cheese, there’s nothing subtle about these flautas, and that’s exactly why we love them. There are four different kinds (lamb barbacoa, chicken, chorizo, and potato), and while the lamb is probably our favorite, don’t fool yourself - you’re getting one of each. They pop up throughout the city on weekends, so keep an eye on their Instagram and plan accordingly. These are flautas you need in your life immediately.
At El Ruso, the Sonoran-style taco truck based in Boyle Heights (there’s a second location now in Silver Lake), everything boils down to the tortilla. Made with flour that owner Walter Soto gets monthly from his hometown of Tijuana, these are the kind of chewy, translucent tortillas that make each bite its own euphoric experience. As far as El Ruso’s excellent mesquite-grilled meats go, the smoky carne asada is our go-to, but as we said, with tortillas this good, they could put just about anything in the middle and we’d still be texting our friends about it on the way home. Don’t leave without getting a burrito wrapped in a sobaquera, a giant Sonoran-style tortilla, and the only one of its kind in town.
This Boyle Heights food truck makes excellent tacos de canasta with all the fixings. These small corn tortillas are stuffed with their hearty fillings before being bathed in hot oil to create a semi-crispy, semi-soft texture that packs a very satisfying crunch without shattering all over your styrofoam plate. Our favorites are the chicharron prensado and the papa con chorizo, which we’d happily eat for breakfast or lunch. The chicharron is extremely soft after slowly stewing in a spicy sauce, and the potatoes act as a great starch vehicle for all of the chorizo’s smokiness. These small taquitos are plated with red and green salsa on top, crema, and crumbly queso cotija, along with pickled jalapeños, carrots, and cabbage for a bite of freshness. The tacos are soft enough to slice through with a plastic fork, but just using your hands will help get them into your mouth much faster.
Cacao doesn’t just have one of the most phonetically satisfying words in the English language in its name (Mexicatessen), it’s also home to some of our favorite tacos in Northeast LA. The duck carnitas are a signature here, which has a lot to do with how the sweet fattiness soaks perfectly into the warm blue corn tortilla. We also love the baja fish, which comes with a giant piece of golden fried fish topped with cabbage and crema, as well as the crispy guisado de pato, a mixture of duck crackling and nopal that’s been stewed in a savory chile arbol salsa. The place is technically order-at-the-counter, but there’s a large adjacent dining room with TVs and a full bar if you want to hang out.
Owned by the same family as Holbox, this tiny vendor inside Mercado La Paloma serves traditional Yucatan cuisine. You’re going to want to start with the sikil-pac, a tomato and pumpkin seed-based dip, and end with their signature cochinita pibil, slow-roasted pork that’s been marinated in achiote and sour orange and wrapped in a banana leaf. It’s the perfect balance of sweet, sour, and savory.
If you love tender, slow-cooked carnitas as much as we do, then there’s a good chance you’ll agree that no one does it better than Carnitas El Momo. This Boyle Heights truck has now expanded with a second location in Panorama City, but both spots greet you with the same smells of bubbling cauldrons of carnitas. However, instead of toil and trouble, El Momo serves slowly braised pork cooked in lard and a secret spice blend of contrasting flavors - including the deep sweetness of brown sugar that caramelizes the large chunks of meat to create all kinds of textures. Pork belly, pork shoulder, and pork skin are all on the menu, but the move is to order all three. The gelatinous, chewy skin plays perfectly with the shoulder and fatty belly that come dripping in juices.
Credited as one of LA’s birria pioneers, this family-owned truck in South Central has been serving its Tijuana-style version since opening in 2015. The magic behind Birrieria Gonzalez’s success is the smokiness of their consommé. The broth’s dried ancho, pasilla, and árbol chiles are the stars of the show and serve as the perfect foundation for the taqueros’ slow-cooked meat. In true Tijuana fashion, heaping piles of shredded beef are tucked inside large crispy tortillas to create their signature tacos dorados. Afterward, chopped onions, cilantro, and a dash of smoky salsa roja are added on top to round everything out.
Operating as a weekly pop-up, Metztli is certainly on the higher-end of things - both in terms of presentation and price (tacos start at $6) - but the fact is these are some of the most original tacos you’ll find in LA right now. Take the mushroom chile verde taco, which comes topped with pine nut salsa morita and egg yolk bottarga, or the hoja santa quesadilla, filled with squash blossom and grasshopper za’atar - these aren’t just dishes that are unique for the sake of being unique. They’re impeccably balanced and deeply flavorful experiments that are pushing the boundaries for taquerias all over town. The exact menu changes weekly, so keep an eye on their Instagram for the latest.
Tire Shop Taqueria makes incredible carne asada, but that’s not even our favorite thing about this South LA institution. It’s the fact that Tire Shop Taqueria isn’t its actual name - people just call it that still because it’s in the parking lot of a used tire store. Its official name is Taqueria San Miguel, but no matter how you refer to it, the long lines at this tiny stand should tell you all you need to know about that asada. Trust us, the wait is worth it.
Starting out in the parking lot of a gas station on the corner of La Brea and Venice, this black-and-orange taco truck has become a member of LA’s taco elite simply by serving an al pastor taco that’s worth waiting in the 45-minute line for. They now have eight different trucks with locations ranging from North Hollywood to Wilmington.
If you take one bite into a taco from Villas Tacos and think to yourself, “I’ve never really had anything like this before,” it’s because you probably haven’t. This Highland Park pop-up is home to what’s called “the seven-layer taco,” an original idea that owner Victor Villa came up with based on his upbringing on LA’s Eastside. It starts with Dodger-blue corn tortillas (a nod to Villa’s affection for the team) and crispy cheese griddled into the side. From there, each taco is filled with creamy refried beans, diced onions, cilantro, crema, cotija, fresh guacamole, and the mesquite-grilled protein of your choice. It’s impossible to order wrong here, but that said, the spicy, smoky chorizo is a must. DM them on Instagram to place your order and schedule a time for pick-up.
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.
Teddy’s Red Tacos began as another small birria operation before expanding into multiple locations across LA. While these highly-dunkable Tijuana-style tacos draw in fans from across town, it’s the fiery red consommé that really sets Teddy’s apart. The consommé’s mix of tomatoes, chiles, and herbs creates a rich color and flavor that takes everything on their griddle up a notch. Besides its potent staining power, Teddy’s broth also gives their tortillas a satisfying crunch and savoriness that lingers as it hardens. The birria de res is juicy and tender and creates great contrast with the tortilla’s crispiness. If you’re looking to deep dive into red consommé and birria, order their deluxe plate with cheese for the full experience. It comes with a birra quesotaco, birria mulita, birria tostada, birria quesadilla, an 8oz serving of broth, and stained fingers.
There are plenty of traditional taco spots on this list, but 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” and all of them excellent.
Aqui es Texcoco is an East LA institution that specializes in lamb barbacoa. There are five different cuts of the animal, including lean meat, rib, brain, head, and tripe. We love the sweet-smokiness of the rib meat best, but just know, there really isn’t a wrong choice here. Located in Commerce, Texcoco is a full-scale restaurant that also has great beer and a festive outdoor patio.
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. Available only on the weekends.
Sure, places like HomeState have been selling migas tacos for years, but the fact is this egg and tortilla Tex-Mex dish is still an underrated commodity in LA. We suspect that’s going to change with the arrival of Hot Tacos. The new taco truck at The Line in Ktown (it’s located in the front valet area) is from the same team behind Austin’s Veracruz All-Natural, one of the most revered taco trucks in Texas and home to the single greatest breakfast taco we’ve ever eaten. Are the migas tacos at Hot Tacos as good as the ones in Austin? Probably not yet, but they come damn close and are already the best version you can get in LA. Plus, there are plenty of other highlights on the menu, like the citrusy cochinita pibil taco on a crispy grilled corn tortilla and a salty, perfectly-cheesy quesadilla filled with marinated steak that’s been grilled on the plancha. Right now, lines are still very reasonable, but if Hot Tacos becomes anything like its famous Austin sibling, that’s not going to last very long. Plan accordingly.
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 taquerias. 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 charred hoja santa, heirloom tomatoes, and cilantro. Available for takeout as well as patio dining.
Madre! is a fantastic Oaxacan restaurant and one of our favorite places to eat in the South Bay. Between their tremendous mole and one of the largest mezcal collections in LA, there are a variety of ways a meal can go here, but make sure that no matter what, it involves their tacos. The cecina and tripa are both excellent, but the coliflor with tomato, quesillo, avocado, and chiles is on its own level. $6 is certainly expensive, but it’s good to keep in mind that Madre’s tacos are massive and two will easily fill you up. There are also locations in Culver City and West Hollywood.
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. Tacos Cuernavaca is 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.
La Flor De Yucatan is a Mayan bakery in Pico-Union serving tremendous Yucatan baked goods and tacos. 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: succulent turkey meat that’s been braised in a mixture of spices, seeds, and chiles that make it unlike anything else in town.
North Hollywood’s Birrieria San Marcos is a great spot for Jalisco-style beef birria, which is fresh and ready every day at 9am. For those mornings when you need something hearty, warm, and spicy to clear your brain fog, their birria en caldo is a guaranteed cure. This spicy broth is filled with plenty of onion, cilantro, and slow-cooked beef for a somewhat balanced breakfast. If you’re looking to throw something else into the mix, get their birria ramen, which is classic Maruchan noodles swimming in the house consommé. When it comes to feasting on birria, we throw the metaphorical rule book out the window, so don’t be surprised if you order a bit of everything and end up dunking your tacos in your ramen too.
Bar Amá is a Downtown staple with a solid Tex-Mex menu and puffy tacos that are better than many versions you’d find in San Antonio. It’s also important to know that they’re not even listed on the menu - but ask for them, and you shall receive. Our order is always the carne guisada, but you can’t go wrong with the soyrizo or slightly spicy chicken picadillo, either. Go ahead and dip them all in Bar Amá’s equally excellent queso too.