With Los Angeles being the top city in America for Mexican food, there’s no shortage of places serving up delicious tacos. Food is undoubtedly one of the best ways to learn about a destination, and these top spots speak to the heart of what makes eating a taco a rite of passage for any visitor to LA.
Fried shrimp tacos dressed with mild salsa and slices of avocado are what it’s all about at this 17-year-old taco truck that’s worth chasing down to its location in Boyle Heights. It also dishes up refreshing shrimp and fish ceviches or aguachiles.
Mexico City-style al pastor (marinated pork shoulder) tacos with a sliver of pineapple is the specialty at Leo’s, and witnessing each slice of meat being carved straight into the tortilla at lightning speed is half the fun. Leo’s now operates out of four food trucks, expanding its reach from its original locations in Venice and La Brea, and the city is all the better for it.
3. BS Taqueria
This modern, sit-down taqueria packs a lot of flavour into each of its inventive tacos – with fillings like pulled pork and shrimp – so don’t expect any watered-down renditions here. The festive vibe and comprehensive cocktail menu provide the finishing touches to a great meal.
Ricky Peña came to Los Angeles from Ensenada in Mexico, bringing with him authentic, delicately batter-fried fish and shrimp tacos that now rank among the best in the city. Each taco here comes topped with cabbage and a super-fresh, finely chopped pico de gallo salsa peppered with jalapenos. Drizzle crema (Mexican sour cream), red and green salsa on these crunchy masterpieces and you’re all set.
5. Carnitas El Momo
You’ll find some of the most delicious pork you’ve ever had in the tacos at Carnitas El Momo. Romulo “Momo” Acosta has served up Guanajuato-style carnitas (pulled pork) for decades; it’s cooked in a copper pot for hours at a time, resulting in a confit pork stew that’s unmatched in flavour. You can state which cut of the pig you prefer (skin, belly, shoulder or a combination called “aporkalypse”); do also try the pickled chile (chilli), which makes for the perfect accoutrement.
2411 Fairmount St
Austin-style breakfast tacos can now be found in Los Angeles thanks to the casual and hipster-approved HomeState. The restaurant’s flour tortilla recipe comes straight from owner Briana Valdez’s grandmother, so you know which to order when they ask, “Flour or corn?” They’ve also got a mean brisket filling, chicken and vegan alternatives and an irresistible queso (melted cheese) – be warned that the latter is really quite addictive. With locations in Los Feliz and Highland Park (the latter has a liquor licence), HomeState has become a two-neighbourhood favourite.
The Modern Mexican culinary trend is alive and well aboard this food truck, thanks to the uniquely delicious flavour combinations dreamt up by proprietor Wes Avila. Guerrilla Tacos utilises market-fresh ingredients every day in its creative tacos, which feature fillings like sweet potato and feta cheese, and tuna and gooseberries. The truck’s location changes from day to day, so be sure to check its Instagram for updates before heading down.
8. Kogi BBQ
Roy Choi’s tacos beautifully capture the Korean and Mexican heritage of Los Angeles in a tortilla. Go to its brick-and-mortar taqueria or one of its four food trucks, and order the signature short rib taco, which is topped with salsa roja (tomato salsa), cilantro-onion-lime relish and chilli soy slaw; or go for the spicy pork filling, made with sweet and spicy gochujang (chilli paste). This is Ko-Mex at its simplest and its best.
Sonoratown is one of the most popular Downtown LA food stands to pop up of late, thanks to owners Jennifer Feltham and Sonora-native Teodoro Diaz-Rodriguez’s award-winning, mesquite-grilled carne asada (grilled and sliced beef). Their flour tortillas are made every morning, ensuring that every taco is served fresh.
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SEE ALSO: An insider’s guide to Los Angeles, USA