The 34 Best Tacos in Los Angeles
LA is a mecca of Mexican cuisine.
Throughout the last decade, LA’s taco scene has evolved considerably. The city offers many regional styles, like the steamy domain of tacos al vapor; smoky, fully-dressed tacos from Tijuana; airy, crunchy fish tacos that hail from Baja; and the magnificence of Sonora’s massive flour tortillas, plus all the unique styles that blend this varied heritage with chefs’ perspectives from growing up in LA. The Alta California movement, a hybrid cooking style that pairs traditional Mexican cuisines with California sensibilities and ingredients, has taken root at a number of taco spots included on the list below.
Simply put, in LA, tacos represent a rite of passage and a symbol of joy. The city has no shortage of fantastic taquerias, and this list is here to help you find one for any and every occasion. Honestly though, tacos need no occasion: eat plenty and often because that’s the guarantee of our beautiful city—tacos are always nearby. Here are our 34 favorite taco spots across various LA neighborhoods:
What to order: Sweet potato taco
Guerrilla Tacos was founded by chef Wes Avila and has since evolved from a food truck to a brick-and-mortar in DTLA’s thriving Arts District. Avila recently left Guerilla to start his Angry Egret Dinette restaurant in Chinatown, and now co-owner Britney Valles runs the operation. A fine example of the Alta California movement in action, Guerrilla represents an LA attitude that respects Mexican cuisine traditions but is never inhibited by them, evidenced by a menu that rotates with the seasons. Noteworthy items include the puffy pocho (FKA pocho taco), a fluffy, deep-fried hard shell taco with a signature ground beef mix, chipotle crema, and aged cheddar cheese, as well as the sweet potato taco, a longtime menu staple that folds sweet potatoes, feta cheese, fried corn, and an almond and cashew chile salsa inside a corn tortilla.
What to order: Idol beef taco
Chuy’s specializes in crispy tacos filled with shredded lettuce, pickled onions, cheddar cheese, and potatoes or shredded beef. Part of what makes their tacos so damn tasty is their salsas: one is a warm soupy tomato salsa that’s flavored with chicken and beef stock, and the other is a spicy version that adds jalapeños. Their signature menu item is the Idol: a fried taco with beef or potatoes, plus their fantastic house-made refried beans, pork chorizo, and cheese.
What to order: Fried shrimp taco
Founded in 2002, Mariscos Jaliscos is known for their rolled shrimp tacos. The tortillas are filled with a mixture of shrimp and potato, which keeps the taco insulated while it’s being fried. After it comes out the fryer, it’s then topped with tomato salsa and a slice of avocado. Squeeze lime and chile de arbol salsa to complete the ritual then take a bite and you’ll immediately understand why LA is obsessed with this taco. Order a few more tacos than you’d expect because they’re addicting. These days they’ve got multiple locations around the city but the OG Boyle Heights location remains our favorite.
What to order: Sobaquera with asada and chile colorado
El Ruso rocked LA with their pliable and pillowy Sonoran-style flour tortillas. They make their tortillas and sobaqueras (large flour tortillas) fresh daily from a recipe that the owner’s wife learned as a kid in Sonora. Asada is king at El Ruso but the aguja (short rib) special is fantastic, as is the chile colorado, which stews stringy strands of shredded beef in chiles and spices. If it’s your first time, order a sobaquera (burrito) with a mix of asada and chile colorado. This taco spot has been such a hit that they recently expanded to a second location in Silver Lake.
What to order: beef or goat birria tacos dorados
Easily one of the most well-known birrierias in LA since birria de res overtook the taco scene, La Unica’s lonchera, or taco cart, is parked along Taco Row, a name given to the taqueros along Olympic Blvd, six days a week (they take Tuesdays off). Birria is a stew that hails from the Mexican state of Jalisco and can be made with a variety of proteins, but La Unica offers it with goat or beef. Every weekend you’ll see long lines of hungry patrons trying to get a taste of their tacos. Both the goat and the beef birria are worth trying, but whatever you decide on, make sure to get a consomme for dipping purposes.
What to order: suadero taco and pork belly breakfast burrito
Macheen is part of the newer wave of taqueros that specialize in Alta California cuisine. Chef Jonathan Perez makes creative, chef-driven dishes and tacos that pair his upbringing in Compton and Torrance with his classical chef training. The fried chicken taco is dusted with five different ground chiles, white pepper, and topped with a hibiscus slaw and a creamy guajillo sauce delivering the perfect combination of crunch, spice, and freshness. The mushrooms in the hongos al pastor are marinated for 24 hours in a powerful adobo blend with chiles and warm spices like cinnamon and cloves, before being deposited on a bed of soft scrambled eggs and folded into a breakfast taco. The suadero (confit brisket) is fatty and bursting with beefy flavor. The breakfast burrito is a must-order, and the pork belly version stands out as one of the best in the city, with crisp and meaty pork belly that’s combined with crunchy tater tots, fluffy scrambled eggs, then mixed with swiss cheese, and a cooling avocado salsa. The result is a funhouse of textures and flavors wrapped in an easily consumed package.
What to order: Carne asada vampiro
What started off as a late-night stop on the streets of Downtown LA is now a brick-and-mortar on the outskirts of Chinatown. They’re known for their carne asada, which is grilled over a mesquite that lends it a nice smoky flavor. Their asada vampiro, a tostada with melted cheese and topped with protein, is a must-order.
What to order: Asada burrito 2.0 with chile poblano
When Sonoratown first opened it was a small taqueria only fitting a few patrons, but they have since acquired the building next door and expanded the operation, adding more kitchen space and seating to enjoy their tacos. Their Sonoron-style tacos use co-owner Teodoro Diaz-Rodriguez’s mom’s recipes for flour tortillas. A few years ago they announced their burrito 2.0, which contains your choice of protein, beans, guacamole, and chiltepin salsa, but to really take things over the top ask them to add a chile poblano. Add a coconut horchata to complete the meal.
What to order: adobada, asada or mushroom perrón
Since opening in 2018, Tacos 1986 has had a meteoric rise. They first started in Hollywood then opened their first brick-and-mortar in the heart of DTLA, and now they have five locations around the city. They specialize in Tijuana-style tacos, which means fire-kissed meats like chorizo, asada, and pollo, dressed with all the fixins and wrapped in paper. One of their most popular proteins is adobada, a regional name for al pastor. Generally adobada is roasted in the oven or grilled over coals (look at Tacos Don Cuco for example), but here they roast it on a spit. Make sure to order the off-menu perrón, which includes your choice of meat, with beans, salsa, onions, cilantro, and a smear of guacamole on a flour tortilla with cheese.
What to order: Duck carnitas taco
Cacao is another restaurant that’s part of the Alta California movement. They offer many dishes that reflect more traditional Mexican food like fish tacos, chile relleno, and a spicy pozole verde that’s especially good for breakfast. They’ve also got a large selection of tacos options like asada, chicken, and cochinita pibil, but their most popular is duck carnitas. The duck meat is confitted until succulent and tender, similar to pork but duck fat gives it a distinct richness.
What to order: Al pastor and asada tacos
If you drive past the Target in Eagle Rock, don’t be confused by the line out front as they’re likely waiting for al pastor tacos from Angel. The taco stand has locations across the Inland Empire all the way up to the San Fernando Valley, but the Eagle Rock one remains a favorite. The al pastor is almost like a separate entity because if you want to order any other proteins like asada or chorizo you don’t have to wait as long. The person working the trompo shaves thin slices of pastor onto a tortilla then tops it with pineapple. But this is a TJ-style taqueria so you have to get some mesquite-grilled asada as well.
What to order: Asada and chorizo vampiro, adobada taco
Don Cuco is another TJ-style taco stand but it is unlike any others in LA. One thing that makes them stand out is their adobada, which in this case is not to be confused with al pastor. They grill their marinated pork steaks over coals to give them a nice crunch and char. Their vampiros, two airy and brittle tostadas joined together with melted cheese, are especially tasty with asada and chorizo.
What to order: Marlin tacos and zarandeado
Coni’s is probably best known for their zarandeado, a snook that’s butterflied and grilled over coals. Grab a tortilla, rip a piece of fish off, hit it with some salsa, and you have a makeshift taco. But don’t sleep on the tacos de marlin, smoked marlin fish with onions and tomato. The tacos gobernador, or cheesy grilled shrimp tacos filled with onions and peppers, are also a solid option.
What to order: carnitas taco
El Artista recently opened its first brick-and-mortar in Inglewood. It’s a family-run business that makes wonderful caramelized carnitas and menudo. You can order them by the pound or in a taco, burrito, or torta. They are one of the more recent carnitas makers but are quickly becoming one of the best. On the beverage front, the strawberry horchata is sweet and refreshing.
What to order: Tacos al pastor
This spot is known for having some of the best al pastor tacos in the city. These days they have multiple loncheras, but the Mid-City one that sets up next to a gas station off La Brea and Venice is the most popular. On late nights and weekends you can see the trompo swordsman shaving and slicing pork directly onto fresh tortillas. But that’s not the end of the show, the person working the trompo finishes each taco by slicing a piece of pineapple and catching it in the air.
What to order: al pastor tacos
This long-running favorite taco truck on the corner of La Brea and Olympic is a great spot for late-night tacos in Miracle Mile. Their most popular tacos are al pastor which are roasted on a trompo, with the marinated pork tasting slightly acidic and chiles. El Chato’s red salsa is wonderful, spicy and addicting. Pro-tip: add avocado to whatever you order, as it’s only a 25 cent upcharge.
What to order: Deluxe plate
Teddy’s Red Tacos is partially responsible for making beef birria tacos commonplace in LA. A former Uber-driver turned taquero, Teddy’s truck parks next to the train tracks on Slauson. The most popular order at Teddy’s is the deluxe plate which features a taco, tostada, quesadilla, mulita, and consomme. It’s a good way to get a taste of everything on the menu.
What to order: Asada and chorizo vampiro
South LA has many great TJ-style taquerias like Tacos Los Poblanos, which sets up in a car lot in the evenings. Each of their tacos, quesadillas, and vampiros are made by hand. Asada and pollo sizzles on the grill along with links of chorizo to ensure a smoky flavor. Each taco is formed the same way: a handmade tortilla, choice of protein, plus salsa, onions, cilantro, and a dollop of guacamole—all wrapped in paper for the TJ realness.
What to order: Asada taco or mulita
Taqueria San Miguel used to be known as Tire Shop Taqueria and is a well-known outpost for TJ-style tacos. Like all the other TJ-style taquerias, the tacos are fully loaded and wrapped in paper. You can never go wrong with asada tacos, but get a vampiro if you’ve never had one. Make sure to scoop some frijoles over your tacos or in a cup.
What to order: scallop taco or aguachile
Holbox is located inside Mercado La Paloma and is easily one of the best places to get mariscos in LA. The fish and shrimp tacos will immediately transport you to the shores of Ensenada. The scallop tacos are phenomenal, featuring sweet and tender scallops that are seared to perfection and accompanied by grilled onions and a wonderful smoky salsa. If you’ve never been, make sure to order the amazing baby scallop aguachile.
What to order: Al pastor tacos or pambazo
This stand inside of Mercado La Paloma is one of the best places to get al pastor tacos in LA. Their pastor is unique because it’s slow-roasted on a spit to ensure that it stays juicy. Raul Morales learned his al pastor recipe while he was in Michoacan, but he adds his own spin by adding pineapple juice into the adobo. They also offer a delicious pambazo, a sandwich painted red with salsa and filled with chorizo and papas.
What to order: al pastor tacos
El Flamin Taco’s lonchera sets up on the side of Vermont Ave and W. 5th St, though you’ll also find trucks in Los Feliz, Echo Park, and Hollywood. On any given day you might see locals ordering asada fries, burritos, quesadillas, and other 420-friendly options like a Hawaiian torta with refried beans, al pastor, mayo, pineapple, ham, lettuce, cheese, sour cream, and avocado between two thick slices of Mexican bread. While waiting in line you might catch someone working the trompo, cutting charred slivers of juicy pork onto a tortilla and catching pineapple like an outfield baseball player. The al pastor is well-spiced and crispy.
What to order: chorizo taco or mulita
Villa’s Tacos earned the title of best taco in LA at TacoMadness 2021, and are known for their LA-style tacos, which means heavily condimented tacos, tuned to owner Victor Villa’s tastes. Each comes with the option to add grilled cheese, crema, cotija cheese, four different salsas, and pickled onions, plus chopped white onions and cilantro that are added to handmade blue corn tortillas. The tacos de chorizo are especially good, with the chorizo offering a well-seasoned spice that doesn’t get lost in the bounty of toppings. It’s hard to go wrong at Villa’s: the asada is grilled over coals and the chorizo con papas are a decadent treat with soft potatoes infused with spicy chorizo fat.
What to Order: lamb barbacoa flauta
Los Dorados rides around in the smallest loncheras you might ever see, essentially the size of a small ice cream truck. They specialize in flautas, but they aren’t just any flautas. Part of what makes them so special is the shattering crunch that comes from using a paper-thin tortilla. Each flauta is topped with crema, green and red salsa, and cotija cheese. The lamb barbacoa flauta is the only one that has a special salsa, a salsa borracha, or “drunk” salsa that uses mild pasilla peppers and tequila or beer. Catch them in Highland Park outside of La Cuevita or the Arts District by Angel City Brewery.
What to order: birria de res taco dorado or mushroom taco
Birria Pa La Cruda was started by Carlos Jaquez and he only pops up on Sundays. His birria distinguishes itself by its deep red color which comes from tatemado, or charing the ingredients, and gives the consomme and beef a deeper flavor. The name of the birrieria is actually in reference to birria’s rumored ability to remedy hangovers. Jaquez started OME during the pandemic as a veggie counterpart to Birria Pa La Cruda. OME is in reference to the Nahuatl concept for balance. OME has specials like tacos de papa and tacos with fresh-seared mushrooms.
What to order: black pastor, flan, or poseidon taco
Evil Cooks is a pop-up that sets up shop in El Sereno on the weekends. You can also catch them popping up at Smorgasburg on Sundays. True to their name, Evil Cooks’ aesthetic is heavy metal, often creating visuals from their love of rock and metal bands. They’ve grown a considerable fanbase since their nomadic pop-up days, now offering meats from three different trompos: beef, octopus, and pork. Each is marinated with a recado negro, a paste made from charring spices and chiles, a technique that comes from Yucatan, Mexico. They also offer great dessert tacos like one that uses flan.
What to order: tacos de cabeza or cachete
This spot only serves tacos al vapor which means that proteins are steamed until supple and tender. Since there’s no added oil they’re also thought to be one of the healthier taco options. Every protein is good at Estilo Guadalajara, but the cabeza (cow head) and cachete (cow cheek) are especially tasty. They offer green and habanero salsa, but be careful with the latter, it can sneak up on you.
What to order: Tropical T taco or So Pork quesadilla
Balam opened in Lynwood in 2015 with a unique vision for tacos. First you decide if you prefer a taco, burrito, quesadilla, or bowl, then take your pick from fillings that include the Tropical T, which replaces a traditional tortilla with a hibiscus-infused slice of jicama root, then adds fried coconut shrimp, toasted pumpkin seeds, and a generous helping of mango pico de gallo for a crunchy and well-balanced bite. The So Pork is their version of carnitas with caramelized onions and goes well on their open-faced quesadillas. Make sure to try their Korean asada as well.
What to order: Asada taco and vampiro
Taqueria El Poblano is another TJ-style taqueria that sets up outside of their storefront in the afternoon to grill their proteins fresh. El Poblano uses handmade tortillas for tacos which are filled with salsa and guacamole, and of course wrapped in paper. Carne asada is the thing to get at El Poblano whether that’s a taco, torta, vampiro, or mulita, you can’t go wrong.
What to order: cabeza or cachete tacos al vapor
Tacos El Cacheton sets up in the evening on the curb by a 76 gas station on Rosecrans and Atlantic in Compton. This lonchera is known for their tacos al vapor. While waiting to order you’ll see clouds of steam emerge as the taqueros grab a tortilla-full of cabeza. El Cacheton has multiple trucks but the one in Compton is a vibe: you might catch someone selling candies or bootleg movies, all part of the ambiance before indulging in tacos al vapor.
What to order: Perro
Perro 110 only sells one type of taco, the perro. The perro starts with a homemade flour tortilla that’s grilled with cheese then gets chopped mesquite-grilled asada, beans, guacamole, onions, and cilantro, and is garnished with a grilled pepper, radishes, and lime. It’s a fully loaded taco that’s guaranteed to satisfy. When a taqueria has only one item on their menu, you can expect it to be good.
What to order: chicharron or al pastor taco
Pablito’s Tacos has several stands in the Valley and they’re known for their Peruvian meets TJ-style tacos. The asada, chicken, and chorizo are grilled over coals and the pastor is shaved from a trompo. As for the Peruvian options you can get a lomo saltado taco with potatoes and steak, or a Peruvian-style chicharron taco. They recently added wood-fired pizza topped with grilled meats to the menu.
What to order: suadero or al pastor tacos
La Guera has so many stands in LA that no matter where you are in the city, you’re probably only a few miles away from finding their next spot. This location is a favorite of Southeast LA residents because it’s a reliable place to get good asada and suadero tacos. Their suadero is one of the stars of the taqueria, simmered in the fat and juices of other proteins until tender. Don’t forget to order a few tacos al pastor; they shave them to order. If you’re unsure if you’re at a La Guera taco stand just look out for their trademark green shirts, it’s a giveaway.
What to order: sturgeon taco
No taco list would be complete without mentioning one of the best Mexican restaurants in Southern California. Just outside of LA in Costa Mesa, Taco Maria has been one of the major players in the Alta California movement. They make sensational Mexican food, and items like the smoked sturgeon tacos are served alongside a salsa macha and cucumbers. If you want to try the tacos a la carte, go during lunch time. But the best way to experience what they have to offer is through the tasting menu: it’s an unforgettable experience.