Tacos in L.A.: Your Ultimate Guide
If you're living life correctly, every day is National Taco Day. We know that. But hey, why not take another opportunity to celebrate something awesome, and something we do better than anyone else (ha, ha, New York Times, that was a very funny joke).
G. Snyder Taco sampler at Guisados
In order to help you celebrate properly, we've put together this list of 20 great tacos: fish tacos and al pastor, carnitas and octopus, duck tacos and potato tacos. Keep reading for enough tacos to keep you celebrating, at least through next week. Or, if you're doing it right, all year long.
20. Al Pastor tacos at Taqueria Cuernavaca:
Anne Fishbein Javier slicing the marinated pork for Al Pastor at Taqueria Cuernavaca.
Two stacked tortillas hold a heap of juicy, thin slices of pork, with a few prized nuggets of crispy, caramelized edges buried within. It's all slightly sweetened by the pineapple, and it'll all be gone in two bites. Accoutrements like salsas or limes are unnecessary: a dab at most, if you must. 1117 N. Ventura Ave., Ventura; 805-653-8052.
19. Suadero at Taco Zone:
Suadero (rib meat) is king at this Echo Park taco truck. It arrives thick and moist on its best nights, sort of like a slice of brisket. Top it with one of Taco Zone's fantastic salsas: salsa verde or a none-too-mild roja that steals the taco show every time. N. Alvarado St. & Montana St., Echo Park.
18. Tacos de papas at El Atacor #11
T. Nguyen Potato tacos at El Atacor
El Atacor #11, a well-worn taqueria in Cypress Park, blasts music from its old jukebox whether it's 2 p.m. or 2 a.m.; that it's open so late is a blessing, because the craving for a potato taco doesn't seem to hit until the munchies do, usually after 11 p.m. Indeed, the tacos de papas here are deceptively simple, but maybe that's what makes them so sublime: soft, fluffy potato slathered in a tortilla, deep fried and topped with crema and guacamole. So popular are these tacos that you can order them in multiples of 10; depending on the severity of your munchies and/or the number of people in your group, 10 of these tacos will disappear in no time. If not, they make a pretty great breakfast for the morning after. 2622 N. Figueroa St., L.A.; (323) 441-8477.
17. Fish taco at Taco Nazo:
T. Nguyen Fish taco at Taco Nazo
Taco Nazo's slogan is "the world's best fish tacos," and while the slogan is definitely hyperbole, it is nonetheless a fine place to get a great fish taco. The signature taco uses Alaskan pollock, fried to a nice crunch and nestled on top of two corn tortillas. The taco is a few bites at best; to slow you down, it comes with a chile guerito, lightly charred with a bit of seasoning. A few locations, including the El Monte shop, also serve beer, so you wash that taco down with a cool, crisp Pacifico. 9516 Garvey Ave., South El Monte, (626) 442-5671; 10316 Alondra Blvd. Bellflower, (562) 866-3306; 1267 N. Grand Ave., Walnut, (909) 595-0555; 163 N. Azusa Ave., Azusa, (626) 969-3664; 13032 Valley Blvd., La Puente, (626) 333-1166; 121 South Beach Blvd., La Habra, (562) 690-8078.
16. Cochinita pibil taco at La Flor de Yucatan:
T. Nguyen Cochinita pibil tacos at La Flor de Yucatan
Not too far from USC is La Flor de Yucatan, a bakery that specializes in all things Yucatecan. The specialty of specialties is its cochinita pibil, which is sold by the pound; inevitably, someone will come in for exactly that while you're there. You, too, will likely go home packing a few extra pounds -- but, first, a cochinita pibil taco. The pork, burnt orange from its marinade of achiote and sour orange juice, is soft, tender and delicious; it's topped with red onions pickled nearly pink, making it not only one of the best tacos in the city but also one of the prettiest. 1800 S. Hoover St., L.A.; (213) 748-6090.
15. Carne Asada taco at La Estrella
The carne asada at this Highland Park taco truck, thick with salsa verde and freshly chopped white onions, is close to paradise. It is the unmistakable mix of salty beef and zippy salsa plus a couple of warm, soft tortillas that have kept La Estrella in the L.A. taco lexicon for so long. These are hearty tacos, meant to satisfy the whole family in a taco-crazy neighborhood that could always choose to go elsewhere, but hasn't for years. York and Ave. 54, Highland Park.
1100 N. Main St., Los Angeles, CA