Los Cinco Puntos
When someone learns that you live in Los Angeles, you will inevitably get asked one of two questions: "Have you seen any celebrities?" and "What's your favorite taco place?" The latter can get tricky—will you choose Sonoratown and their imported tortillas? The experimental creations at Taco Maria? Drippy red goat stew, courtesy of Tacos Y Birria La Unica? Or, arguably LA's most iconic dish, the golden, shrimp-stuffed tacos de camaron from Mariscos Jalisco? It's rare that Los Cincos Puntos ever makes the cut.
But we’re here to tell you: it should.
Named after its location at the pinnacle of five East LA streets, this family-run carníceria and dried goods market in Boyle Heights has been around since 1967, and was the starting point for the Chicano Moratorium march in protest of the Vietnam War. Step inside and you'll hear the loud smack-smack of butchers at work and old men haggling down the price of chilis. Baseball trophies that look like they have stories to tell sit above the soda machines. A plastic swordfish hangs in the kitchen and lotto tickets are available for purchase. Piñatas sway in the wind. Are you allowed to take a swing, if it's your birthday? At Los Cincos Puntos, you want to believe the answer is yes.
Unless you're in the market for canela cinnamon sticks or trying your luck at SuperLotto Plus, head to the counter. The menu can feel overwhelming—filled with tortas and sopes, flautas and tamales, quesadillas, hamburgers, and party-sized enchiladas trays—so, start with the tacos. From carne asada to chewy tripa, each one is served on Los Cinco Puntos' signature tortillas, thick and heavenly pillows that could double as Serta mattresses. Are they the best in the city? Yes, a thousand times, yes. We would say the world, but as our editor reminded us, that's "outside our jurisdiction."
At the back of the market next to sizzling hot griddles, you'll witness chefs creating the tortillas a mano: grabbing fistfuls of masa, giving them a quick pat pat pat, and sending them to the skillet. The process is hypnotic, like watching angels whip up clouds. Served fresh, each tortilla is the perfect contrast to Los Cinco Puntos' luxurious, salty meats.
Carnitas are the specialty, a braised and simmered pork that's left soft and in thicker chunks than what you’ll find at other places. But our favorite is the chicharrón: crackling pork rinds, oozing with oil, paired with a good tortilla and a mound of salsa. It’s a taco balanced by science—with the sliced nopales and big ol' dollop of guacamole, there's heat. There's acid. There’s creaminess, salt, and a distinct crack as you bite into it. This is the taco to order, the "it girl" at Los Cinco Puntos. Worship it, devour it, and most importantly, remember this taco the next time a tourist demands to know your favorite in town.
What wasn't clear before? Order this, or we'll court order you to return A.S.A.P.
While other taquerias shred their meats super fine, Los Cinco Puntos tears pork shoulder into giant chunks, creating a supple bite. You will need this.
Yes, you can buy these in bulk. Eat them fresh, fill them with meat, or use them as a pillow. Fling them at a loved one. Order these. They are perfect.
At Los Cinco Puntos, the salsa bar is inseparable from the experience—a star in its own right, like an overlooked late-night show sidekick who has all the best lines. The pickled nopales are cutting and have bright flavors—an ideal counterbalance to the rich, fatty meats. Salsas are lovely. And the guacamole is thick, chunky, and the color of Shrek, so, you know it's fresh.
A surprising, but good option. The cheeseburger comes wrapped bowling alley diner-style, in a flimsy yellow wrapper and tastes like a thing you'd eat alleyside. Smashed patty, a thick-cut tomato slice, lettuce, and sesame seed bun. Are we saying "come to Los Cinco Puntos just for the cheeseburger?" No. But when traveling with someone whose only food groups are burgers, dino nuggets, and french fries, this is the ideal add-on.