Skip to Content
Featured

Your Boyle Heights Afternoon Taco Crawl: Oaxacan Black Bean Falafel, Give Tripas a Chance, and CDMX-Worthy Al Pastor

12:49 PM PDT on August 20, 2021

    falafel taco at xtiousu

    Falafel plate at Xtiousu

    [dropcap size=big]E[/dropcap]ven beyond the assumed pleasures of eating along Olympic Taco Row, Boyle Heights continues to be a contender for the best taco neighborhood in all of Los Angeles. You don’t really ever need to venture out of Olympic Boulevard since it hosts more than enough regional styles to geek out about. However, there are plenty of other spots worth venturing out and appreciating in the historic neighborhood east of the L.A. River, including more mariscos and, yes, more tacos.

    Whenever you grow out of Taco Row or are feeling taco curious, here is the perfect afternoon taco crawl to break you out of your Boyle Heights shell.

    falafel at xtiousu
    Falafel at X'tiousu. Photo by Javier Cabral for L.A. TACO.
    Falafel at X'tiousu.

    X’Tiousu Kitchen  

    This paisa-owned Oaxacan-Lebanese concept in the outskirts where Boyle Heights meets City Terrace is one of the neighborhood’s most delicious and important restaurants. In Los Angeles, no matter the type of food or price range in a restaurant, you can count on the back-of-house staff (line cooks, runners, bussers, dishwashers) being made up of mostly immigrants from Mexico and Central America. This restaurant marrying two of the boldest tasting cuisines in the world is a direct result: two Indigenous brothers from Oaxaca who worked in a Lebanese restaurant in West L.A. who decided to do their own thing in this part of town. What you get is a menu that fully lives up to that powerful “only in L.A.” saying, including black bean falafel with a “salsa arabesca,” which is one of the most exciting salsas—made of tahini and tomatillo—that I’ve had in years.

    923 Forest Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90033

     

    View this post on Instagram

     

    A post shared by Javier Cabral (@theglutster)

    Santa Cecilia Mexican Food

    Nestled in Mariachi Plaza’s corner with hand-painted signage sits this unassuming storefront that may hold L.A.’s best taco de tripas. Why? Because the tripas themselves, when requested “extra crispy,” are nothing short of a revelation. Imagine if a piece of jaggedly crispy chicharrón got the Flamin’ Hot-like seasoning treatment, seasoned magnificently—with the haunting flavor of tripa as the backbone. This study in savoriness is underscored by a soft, warm, handmade white corn tortilla, a rarity in the tripa taco game. We are still thinking about this taco de tripa days later. It’s time to grow out of asada and al pastor. It’ll be OK...we promise.

    1707 Mariachi Plz De Los, Los Angeles, CA 90033

    taco plate at la guera
    Al pastor at La Güera topped with that special salsa verde. Photo by Diego Guerrero for L.A. TACO.
    Al pastor at La Güera topped with that special salsa verde. Photo by Diego Guerrero for L.A. TACO.

    Tacos La Güera

    This trompo in an industrial stretch of Soto Street flies low in L.A.’s cutthroat al pastor game, but it can compete with the best in Mexico City on its good days. While La Güera has locations all around L.A., this one in front of USC Medical Center and a tortilla’s throw away from the Ascot Hills trailhead hits differently. Perhaps it is the fact that the trompo is not as hulkingly big as its competitors deeper in the L.A. metro area or maybe because they offer this unique aguachile-style jungle green salsa verde loaded with chopped cucumbers that is both addictingly spicy and refreshing at the same time. Still, all I know is that this al pastor is tasty enough to bring staunch chilangos who love to come and talk masa about L.A.’s taco scene. One of these tacos usually shuts them right up. An honorable mention goes out to their suadero, too. L.A. TACO would like to formally give props sonidero DJ Diego Fuego for showing us this locals-only spot. 

    1521-1569 N Soto St, Los Angeles, CA 90033

    Extra credit crawl options: Go to Sara’s Market in neighboring City Terrace and load up on natural wine, tortillas, and highly curated coffee and craft pisto at 3455 City Terrace Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90063. (Yes, it’s super worth looking for parking for upwards of 15 minutes for). 

    Stay in touch

    Sign up for our free newsletter

    More from L.A. TACO

    What To Eat This Weekend: Cannabis-Infused Boat Noodles, Thai Smashburgers, and “Grass & Ass”

    Plus, a pizza festival and a respected chef from Toluca, Mexico comes to Pasadena to consult for a restaurant menu, including enchiladas divorciadas, and more.

    April 12, 2024

    Facing ‘Immediate Layoffs,’ L.A. TACO Launches Membership Drive to Save Our Publication

    After Sunday, we do not have enough money to make another payroll. We need 5,000 members to become sustainable. Our deadline is April 26th to hit this goal.

    April 12, 2024

    The Final Round of TACO MADNESS 2024 Is Now Open for Voting! It’s Highland Park vs. San Fernando Valley

    It was an incredible comeback to deny last year's winner and bring a first-timer from the San Fernando Valley to the finals. They will have an uphill battle against Villa's Tacos, who lead all teams in total votes so far in the 2024 competition. L.A.'s favorite taco will be decided on Sunday, April 14th, at 11:59 P.M. 

    April 11, 2024

    This New Koreatown Onigiri Spot Is Unlike Any Other in Southern California

    Supamu, which started as a food truck and a series of pop-ups, brands itself as Southern California’s first Okinawa-style onigiri. What sets its onigiri apart from competitors? All the details are in the post, plus where to find it.

    April 10, 2024

    When ‘Tomorrow’ Never Comes: The Saga of a DTLA Bar Staff’s Struggle To Get Paid

    A barback recalled a time when he had to use a payday loan app to cover a dinner bill. “How can you, with a straight face, hand someone a check knowing that there isn’t money in the account,” the barback questioned.

    April 10, 2024
    See all posts