The Best Vegan Tacos In LA  guide image


The Best Vegan Tacos In LA

When you're keeping it plant-based, but still want amazing tacos.

Going plant-based doesn’t mean you can’t partake in one of LA’s greatest traditions: eating delicious tacos whenever you want. These days, you’ll find a wide array of vegan Mexican restaurants serving creative spins like tender jackfruit carnitas, smoky mushroom al pastor, and an artichoke “fish” taco that blows other versions out of the water. Here's our guide to the best vegan taco spots in LA. 

Doomie’s NextMex

Located in a Hollywood strip mall next to older sibling Doomie’s Home Cookin’, Doomie’s NextMex makes a vegan Baja-style fish taco that is better than most actual fish tacos we’ve had. The golden, salty beer-battered “fish” is made from artichoke that’s flaky and tender, dressed in a light vegan crema, pico de gallo, and a big pile of cabbage. Doomie’s shines brightest with their nearly identical meat substitutions, like the juicy, slow-roasted “carnitas” made from soy and mushrooms. The fact everything is plant-based ultimately feels secondary, because the tacos here are fantastic and come on equally delicious handmade corn tortillas. 

Hidden in that two-story strip mall on the corner of Westwood and Olympic that hasn’t changed its decor since 1987, Hijo De Su Madre is a casual, counter-service vegan Mexican spot with a strong dose of flair. They’ve got a banh mi-style taco with seared tofu, a bratwurst taco inspired by LA street dogs, and a deep-fried avocado taco called the “Phat Hass.” The best things here come from Yucatan-inspired side of the menu, including a fantastic spicy-sour jackfruit cochinita pibil topped with black bean and corn salsa. Our only issue is that the plant-based meats here are so juicy, the soft corn tortillas end up clinging to life by the time you finish. Still, we’d send anyone here for a satisfying and affordable lunch in West LA—vegan or otherwise.

One of the more established plant-based taco vendors in LA, Cena Vegan has a cult following for its seitan-based “meats,” like pollo asado, carne asada, and al pastor that are marinated using family recipes and grilled for that smoky flavor. We’re also big fans of their saucy jackfruit barbacoa and their tofu skin birria tacos, which come with a side of vegan consomme for messy dipping. Along with tacos topped with guacamole, salsa, and pickled red onion, they also do giant oversized tortas, and nacho boats covered in a river of chipotle cashew cheese. You’ll find Cena popping up at various breweries around LA (check their Instagram), at Smorgasburg on Sundays, or doing pickup orders nightly from their kitchen space in Lincoln Heights.

Sugar Taco is the type of casual Mexican spot you visit to devour a platter of loaded nachos, a burrito, and goblet-sized chamoy margarita, minus all the dairy and meat that usually comes with it. There are also a few tacos on the menu at this West Hollywood spot, including seitan carne asada and jackfruit carnitas coated in a thick, savory sauce. Maybe the sauce is there to mask the vegan meat’s chewier texture, but we’re still fans of its tangy BBQ-like flavor. You know you’re not eating real meat, but these tacos are well-seasoned, come on warm corn tortillas, and the salsas aren’t half bad, either. Get the churro donuts, too.

We’ve long relied on Tlayuda LA in East Hollywood to kickstart our mornings with strong Mexican coffee, a pile of chilaquiles, and maybe pillowy memela every now and then, but their vegan mole tacos are still our lunchtime go-to. Made from hibiscus flowers stewed in their signature mole, the saucy filling is mildly tart, sweet, and nutty and has a similar texture to pulled pork. We also love the lightly charred homemade corn tortillas that bring a nice chew to every bite and the sharpness from the raw onion on top. Along with a few vegan tacos options, you’ll also find vegan potato flautas and a vegan chipotle torta.

Some people think words like "plant-based" and "organic" don't belong in the same sentence as street tacos. But those people are wrong, and obviously have never been to Alchemy Organica. Besides gooey mulitas and stuffed burritos, this plant-based, organic Mexican food pop-up in Koreatown serves a flight of incredible tacos on hand-pressed blue corn tortillas. You can find them set up every Tuesday night near Beverly and Kenmore: Expect thick chunks of seasoned potatoes and cactus, smoky mushroom al pastor topped with juicy pineapple, and a citrusy take on asada made with marinated seitan and “ancestral herbs.” If you’d like to help support this food stand’s journey toward opening a brick-and-mortar space, check out their GoFundMe donation page.

El Cocinero is a barebones strip mall spot in Van Nuys that makes every Mexican lunch option under the sun, including tortas, mulitas, and good tacos (all vegan, of course). The soy-based asada looks and tastes like gyro meat, and the saucy jackfruit birria has a nice smokiness, but isn’t anything truly noteworthy. However, we strongly recommend a trip here just for the excellent al pastor tacos. The adobo marinade is extremely flavorful, with lots of sweet pineapple and chile heat, and we dig the tangy salsa that comes on the side. El Cocinero currently operates as a takeout spot, so maybe use the hood of your car as a table if you can’t wait to get home before diving in. 

This self-described “modern Mexican” mini-chain—which serves tacos, bowls, and burritos with a general health food bent—started out in Venice and now has locations all over SoCal. The non-vegan options here are fine, but where Tocaya really shines is the plant-based portion of its menu, including the most convincing cashew-based queso dip we’ve ever tasted and a stellar maitake mushroom ceviche that wouldn’t be out of place at a fancy tasting menu restaurant. If you want tacos, get the spicy vegan picadillo filling. Think of Tocaya as a cheaper, more convenient (and much tastier) version of places like Gracias Madre and De Buena Planta.

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photo credit: Jessie Clapp

The Best Vegan Tacos In LA  guide image