The Best Tacos In Los Angeles

LA is a taco town. Consider this your checklist of the best of the best.
The Best Tacos In Los Angeles image

photo credit: Jessie Clapp

Is there a more ubiquitous food in LA than tacos? Doubtful. From late-night al pastor trucks in South LA to family-run taquerias with stunning carnitas, to say that LA’s taco options are unlimited still feels like an understatement. And let’s be clear—this is a very good problem to have.

The search for LA’s best tacos is also never-ending. And if you’re looking for the Best Vegan Tacos In LA, we’ve got you covered. Have a special spot we missed? Shoot us an email or slide into our DMs—we’d love to hear from you. But for now, here are the 25 best tacos in LA, according to us.


photo credit: Jessie Clapp


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There's enough mesquite charcoal smog inside this Huntington Park taqueria to make Smokey The Bear lose his ever-loving mind. But all that smoke is the key to Tacos Los Cholos' meats, which are just as good as (if not better than) America's best BBQ. Asada soaks up woody flavor. Beef rib crackles. Lime-marinated ribeye is soft like butter. Of course, the difference between Los Cholos and your favorite BBQ spot is that every slab of beef, pork, and chicken that comes off the asador is mounded onto a chewy tortilla with bright salsa. All of the above makes Tacos Los Cholos impossible to forget. When out-of-towners insist on trying just one taco when they visit LA, send them here.

This decades-old market and deli in Boyle Heights is a neighborhood institution that sells everything from cheeseburgers to breakfast burritos to spices and dried chiles. You’re here for the tacos, though—and so is everyone else. Make sure to hit the excellent salsa bar, which is an attraction by itself: the tart, pickled nopales offer a counterpunch to fatty meats, and the guacamole is thick, chunky, and the color of Shrek so you know it's fresh. While their carnitas are excellent, the crispy chicharron is even better. Frankly, when corn tortillas are as thick and griddled as they are at Cinco Puntos, we’ll drive across the city to eat anything they’re wrapped around.

A Sonoran-style taco is only as outstanding as its flour tortilla and smoky meat. By that logic, you'll find LA's best versions at this recently opened spot in Bellflower. We're talking golden, buttery tortillas so thin they're nearly translucent but still require molars to tear into. We're talking evenly charred asada whacked with a cleaver, scorched tripas that somehow taste like fatty chicharrón, and puddles of sinus-zapping salsa verdes. Brighten up your tacos with limón, and you're in for an unforgettable dining experience.

Crowning the best taco in Los Angeles is like trying to explain to that one relative that they're texting you through their email—nearly impossible. But crowning the most famous taco is easy. That would be the taco de camaron at Mariscos Jalisco in Boyle Heights. Few single-bite experiences in LA compare to eating this deep-fried shell stuffed with plump shrimp and smothered in bright tomato salsa and fresh avocado. We would travel across oceans to spend time with this thing, so let’s all be thankful it’s just right off the 5 (and, thanks to its fleet of trucks, now also in Mid-City, Pomona, and Downtown LA as well).

At El Ruso, a Sonoran-style taco truck in Echo Park, the tortilla is king. Made with flour that the truck's owner sources from his hometown of Tijuana, these are the kind of chewy discs that make each bite a euphoric experience. As far as El Ruso’s excellent mesquite-grilled meats go, the muñeco combo remains our top choice. Smoky chopped carne asada and spicy chicharron en salsa roja pile into one of those golden tortillas, plus you have the option of adding stewed pintos, cabbage, and diced onion to create a hearty beast of a taco. And if they happen to have them on the menu that day, don't leave without a burrito wrapped around one of their sobaqueras, a stretchy hubcap-sized Sonoran flour tortilla that's the only one of its kind in town. 

If you love juicy, fat-simmered carnitas as much as we do, there’s a good chance you’ll agree that no one does pork better than Carnitas El Momo. This Boyle Heights curbside operation has expanded to Monterey Park with a full counter-service restaurant (complete with a giant pig mural). At both spots, you'll be greeted by the same incredible porky aroma. Though you can order tortas and quesadillas stuffed with their caramelized Michoacan-style carnitas, the standard tacos shine the brightest on the menu. They're so obscenely rich they require little embellishment beyond a dab of salsa verde and some pickled jalapeños. Pick your cut (shoulder, belly, skin, burnt ends, or, our favorite, the mixed “Aporkalypse'' style) and watch the people cooking heap melting bits of meat onto warm tortillas, then do your best to not drip any of those precious pig juices on your shirt.

Carne asada competition is tough in LA, but Sonoratown has managed to take a tiny taqueria space in Downtown and build it into a full-on institution for Sonoran-style tacos. The legendary housemade flour tortillas here melt in your mouth, and the charred steak that gets tucked inside has the exact right degree of saltiness. You can certainly opt for Sonoratown's regular tacos, but our move is the caramelo, which measures roughly double the size and comes topped with pinto beans, jack cheese, salsa roja, avocado, and diced cabbage. There's a second location in Mid-City as well, with much easier parking.

From the presentation to the thoughtful tastes and textures, Simón pushes the curbside taco experience to another level. You can find their blue truck across from Bacari Silver Lake Tuesday through Sunday serving creative mariscos dishes cooked by a Oaxacan chef with a fine dining background. Imagine spicy tempura soft shell crab tacos topped with tangy pineapple salsa and a slathering of smoked chile mayo. Imagine a fish al pastor taco that gets dressed in nutty salsa macha and very spicy carrot habanero. These dishes wouldn't be out of place at a fine dining restaurant, which feels kind of magical in its own right.

Owned by the same family that runs Holbox, this busy stall inside Mercado La Paloma near USC has been serving traditional Yucatan cuisine for the past twenty years and is still going strong. You're going to want to start with their flagship cochinita pibil—sweet and savory slow-roasted pork that’s been marinated in achiote and sour orange and cooked inside a banana leaf. It's the best version in the city and therefore sets the standard for all others. But don't ignore the shredded turkey panuchos, housemade longaniza, and char-grilled pollo asado, too. These are tough decisions to make, which is why we usually order several rounds of tacos at Chichen Itza rather than choose one entree—somehow, you can always find room for one more taco.

You’ll smell Tacos Los Poblanos before you see it. This nighttime Tijuana-style taco stand (and Tire Shop Taqueria rival) grills its carne asada over mesquite charcoal, which sends a smoky trail wafting down Slauson Ave. Our usual order goes like this: a few asada tacos, plus a cheese-lined vampiro with chorizo, then a step back to watch the taqueros thwack-thwack grilled meat with a cleaver and fling spoonfuls of salsa with acrobatic precision. Each taco is crowned with a dollop of thick guacamole and wrapped in paper like an ice cream cone. Paired with a big gulp of agua de jamaica, it’s essentially a taco ASMR experience.

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Head to Tacos Los Güichos, a truck in South LA that parks at a tire shop right off the 110, and you’ll know immediately you’re in the presence of al pastor royalty. Most nights you’ll see two, perhaps even three, big reddish-orange trompos with taqueros carving the pork using long knives and handing out tacos that are scarfed down in seconds. Charred on the edges, embarrassingly juicy, and a touch sweet, the Mexico City-style al pastor here is unmatched. But two caveats: the truck doesn’t roll out the trompos until 5:30pm, so don’t come before that. And don’t expect a slice of pineapple on top or a side of avocado salsa (though their earthy salsa roja is A-plus). Los Güichos’ owner considers them distractions and is happy to tell you so.

You can’t fake a great taco al vapor, more or less because there’s simply nothing to hide behind. This purist style from Jalisco involves beef cooked for hours over a steam bath until it practically jiggles, paired with corn tortillas that have been warmed to a custard-like texture. And we consider Tacos El Negro, with locations in South Gate and Bell Gardens, the LA al vapor specialist. At El Negro, nearly everyone orders tacos by the plateful and you should do the same (no joke, this place pumps out more steam than a sauna). Top them with a little onion and cilantro, some creamy thinned-out guacamole—plus a dab of their wicked habañero salsa if you’re feeling masochistic—and savor the beefy bliss.

This street-cart-turned-food-truck—which relocated from Compton to an industrial stretch of North Long Beach a couple of years ago—specializes in Sinaloa-style chorreadas, a toasted corn tortilla that’s slicked with pork fat, then topped with a mound of chopped grilled steak and a rough salsa thickened with chopped cabbage. It might look a little like a standard asada taco, but your first one will provide a near-religious reckoning. You can add melted cheese to the whole setup to make it a vampiro, or swap in a baked potato for the tortilla to make it a papa loca. All of them are fantastic with agua de cebada, a creamy-sweet drink that’s like horchata but made with roasted barley. Make sure to check La Carreta’s Instagram for hours of operation.

Tacos Y Birria La Unica is the food truck we head to for all things birria. With both beef and goat versions on the menu, you can enjoy the spicy, chile-braised meat in a taco, quesataco, mulita, or even in a cup of ramen when visiting this Boyle Heights destination (with a second location in Mid-City as well). The goat is particularly delicious, and the cash-only truck’s rich consommé does an excellent job of enhancing the meat’s natural gaminess. But, in order to try a little of everything, we usually go for the holy trinity: a goat birria taco, a beef birria taco, and a goat birria quesataco. When it comes to their quesataco, La Unica gently fries housemade corn tortillas to a nice crunch before stuffing them with juicy birria and lots of molten white cheese that oozes and stretches with each bite. Pour on a bit of their habañero salsa for an extra dose of heat.

Cacao Mexicatessen doesn’t just have one of the most phonetically satisfying words in the English language in its name (Mexicatessen is our personal "cellar door"), it’s also a Northeast LA staple that has been serving delicious and inventive tacos for over a decade. The famed duck carnitas here are a must-order, with its sweet, fatty meat soaking perfectly into a warm blue corn tortilla. We also love the Ensenada fish tacos, which come with a giant piece of golden fried fish topped with cabbage, crema, and pickled onions (add sea urchin if you want to go big), as well as the sesame-topped Korean short rib and the guisado de pato, duck cracklings and nopales stewed in a savory chile de arbol salsa. Order at the counter and then sit in the large adjacent dining room with TVs and a cocktail menu if you want to hang out.

Plain and simple, this family-run food truck serves tacos that are unlike anything else in the city. Made with marinated roast pork and smoky chipotle salsa wrapped in a thick, soft flour tortilla that almost resembles a pita, the signature tacos arabes here can be traced back to the Mexican city of Puebla, where 19th-century Arab immigrants intertwined kebabs and shawarma with central Mexican cuisine. Our favorite order here is the Especiale, which is a traditional taco arabe upgraded with stringy quesillo and buttery slices of avocado. Once you see the heft of these babies, you’ll realize you might only need one. OK, maybe two. Tacos Arabes is open Wednesday through Sunday, and usually parks in Mid-City during the daytime and in Boyle Heights at night, though we recommend confirming their hours/location on Instagram.

The Best Birria In LA image

LA Guide

The Best Birria In LA

photo credit: Jakob Layman



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Guerrilla Tacos used to be one of LA’s best taco trucks, and before that one of LA’s best taco carts, and ever since it moved into a permanent space in the Arts District a few years ago, it’s been one of LA’s best taquerias, too. Though it’s no longer the new kid on the block, Guerrilla Tacos is still one of our favorite places in the city for creative tacos that treat the tortilla like a blank canvas. The menu changes fairly often, which means you might find wackier options like a fried “fish & chips” taco topped with mashed pea guacamole or a black pepper steak taco with peanut chile crisp and a squiggle of hoisin sauce. That said, the menu staples—like the sweet potato taco with feta, or the fantastic pork belly one—still hold their own. Add in their great cocktails and raw dishes, and you’ve got a complete sit-down taco experience with something to please everyone.

While most of the city is either sleeping or suffering through some 7am workout class, Asadero Chikali is busy simmering batches of soul-warming stews for breakfast tacos. This East LA food truck serves spectacular Mexicali-style tacos de guisado served on tender handmade flour tortillas and filled with things like shredded beef with roasted potatoes, chicharron cooked in tangy salsa, and spicy chorizo with scrambled eggs. Beyond breakfast, Asadero Chikali uses their tortillas for classic Norteño carne asada tacos seasoned with a nice charcoal flavor from the grill. Grab one of their cheesy vampiros, too: a corn tortilla toasted until crisp and browned, then piled high with handfuls of melty cheese and grilled asada on top.

If taco stands were judged the same way as baseball prospects, Angel’s Tijuana Tacos would be what coaches call a five-tool player. Not only does this taco stand with locations all over LA County excel in the art of juicy al pastor with a flick of pineapple, but they also serve smoky grilled asada and flavorful braised meats like cabeza. In fact, from the bright salsas to the pressed-to-order tortillas, we’ve yet to encounter anything Angel’s doesn’t do well (dry cleaning? tax services?). Even if you insist you’ve had better this or that at other taco spots, rarely can you find all of it in one place, never mind an operation that has locations stretching from North Hollywood to Long Beach. We're not Angels fans but we're Angel's fans, dig?


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This Highland Park taquería takes a more-is-more approach with fully loaded tacos. Each one comes on a Dodger-blue corn tortilla layered with crispy griddled cheese, diced onions, cilantro, crema, cotija, guacamole, and a mesquite-grilled protein of your choice. (Oh, and the option to add seven different salsas and hibiscus-pickled onions, too.) If this sounds like a messy mountain of a taco, you're not incorrect. But it's a mess worth making. Order the Villa's Trio, a cheesy, three-taco sampler that includes grilled asada, chorizo with potato, and chicken with black beans.

The name of the game at Carnitas El Artista in Inglewood is Michoacan-style carnitas—tender, slow-fried chunks of pork that are beautifully crisp and bronzed along the edges. You’ll find excellent pork shoulder carnitas at this father-and-son operation, but El Artista also incorporates other cuts, from pork ribs and chicharron to lengua and cabeza. Whether you go with their hefty tacos, a torta, burrito, quesadilla, or a big plate of chilaquiles topped with a fried egg as your carnitas vessel, you’ll catch serious aromas of garlic and lime rising up from the juicy, caramelized meat. For our money, you won’t find a more memorable carnitas experience west of the 110.

Conveniently located at the corner of National and Sawtelle just off the 405, Brothers Cousins is the late-night taco kingpin of the Westside. Lines begin to form around 6pm for the main attraction: a wide, bubbling pan of meats that have been braised into submission. Choose your cut of choice—asada, carnitas, chorizo, lengua, suadero, among others—and the taquero plucks the meat from the pan and chops it to order, scooping it into a warm tortilla in one swift motion. They’ll usually have some soft, fat-cooked potatoes and carmelized onions to help yourself to as well, and the salsa station is always well-stocked and pristine

Since opening its first location in La Puente four decades ago, Taco Nazo has grown into a mini beer-battered fish empire. Nazo now has five locations across greater East LA, each serving flaky fish on warm corn tortillas with fresh cabbage, pico de gallo, and a big dollop of crema that tastes like tangy tartar sauce. If you’re in a hurry, you can use their convenient drive-thru, but don’t be surprised if it takes 20 minutes during the dinner and lunch rush (or even longer during Lent). We promise the two-fish taco combo with creamy frijoles and chips will be worth the bumper-to-bumper lines.

Macheen, a project that operates out of Milpa Grille in Boyle Heights on Monday through Saturday from 8am-2pm, makes one of our favorite breakfast burritos in LA. Well, we’re here to tell you that they're just as skilled at putting meats and vegetables on heirloom blue corn tortillas. Macheen usually offers a handful of inventive fillings, like fried chicken tossed in salsa macha as well as solid vegetarian options like sauteed mushrooms done al pastor-style. But the must-order here is the pork belly taco, which drips with juice and comes on a bed of black beans and nopales. The Boyle Heights location mostly functions as a takeout spot, but if you have time for a relaxed lunch, grab a table on their shaded streetside patio and eat your tacos with a turmeric cinnamon iced latte from Cafe Cafe, a craft coffee pop-up in the same space. Macheen also sets up at at Smorgasburg on Sundays, and at Distrito Catorce Tuesday through Sunday from 8:30am-2pm.

Los Dorados is a tiny food trailer that only makes one thing: taco dorados. And, as you might expect from a place that sells just one item, they do crispy, deep-fried rolled tacos really, really well. Doused in housemade salsa roja, spicy mole sauce, or avocado salsa verde, then finished with a heavy sprinkle of cotija cheese—there’s nothing subtle about these crunchy, extra-long beauties. That’s exactly why we love them. There are usually four different fillings to choose from (lamb barbacoa, chicken, chorizo-potato, and bean and cheese), and while the lamb is our favorite, don’t fool yourself—you’re getting one of each. Los Dorados generally pops up around the Eastside on Thursday through Saturday, and at Smorgasburg on Sunday, so keep an eye on their Instagram and plan accordingly.

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