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The 5 Best Tacos in Compton

Driving down Compton's Atlantic Boulevard can be hypnotizing, with its abundance of trucks cooking gems like a taco de labio, requeson-filled tacos dorados, and famous birria de chivo.

12:05 PM PST on February 14, 2024

    These are the five best tacos in the City of Compton.

    You'll find them as you drive along Atlantic, Rosecrans, and Long Beach Boulevards, beckoning you to pull over with their neon signs pulsing above the curbs, murals and iconography recalling their owners' Mexican roots.

    Preludes to sumptuous tacos al vapor de labio (beef lip), requeson-filled tacos dorados, juicy tacos de chivo, and more.

    If you want to try some bomb tacos that reflect the tastes and culture of their immediate community, these are the spots in Compton to visit.

    Tacos el Cacheton truck in Compton.
    Tacos el Cacheton truck in Compton, photo by Oscar Rodriguez Zapata for L.A. TACO.
    Tacos de cabeza at Tacos El Cacheton.
    Tacos de cabeza at Tacos El Cacheton, photo by Oscar Rodriguez Zapata for L.A. TACO.

    Tacos El Cacheton ~ Tacos de Labio Al Vapor 

    Tacos El Cacheton is a truck you might drive by every day without realizing how tasty it is until the day you finally stop to try it. Parked right off Rosecrans next to an off-brand gas station, you'll see a color-changing neon sign above the lunch truck with Indigenous Huichol art in the background.

    The taco selection is amazing. I was looking for one very specific one, though. A taco de labio al vapor (steamed cow lip tacos). And El Chacheton has it.

    The meat is steamed and soft but never breaks within its tortilla, diced finely and seasoned strongly. You'll dress it up with the holy trinity of cilantro, onion, and green salsa to tie it together into the most delicious bite.

    If you're open to a more gelatinous texture, this is the taco for you. If you are a generally fan of tacos de lengua, you may fall even harder for labio. 

    4518 E. Rosecrans Ave. Compton, CA 90221. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Lines 125 and 260 - "Rosecrans/Atlantic."

    Outside Antojitos Los Cuates.
    Outside Antojitos Los Cuates, photo by Oscar Rodriguez Zapata for L.A. TACO.
    Tacos Dorados de Requesón.
    Tacos Dorados de Requesón at Antojitos Los Cuates, photo by Oscar Rodriguez Zapata for L.A. TACO.

    Antojitos Los Cuates ~ Tacos Dorados de Requesón

    The food at Antojitos Los Cuates reminds me of my madrina's home cooking. It's a small, peach-colored restaurant decorated with yellow lettering and iconic locations from Jalisco. Automatically upon entering, you just know some amazing antojitos are coming to pull your heartstrings from the feel of the dining room. 

    Its tacos de requesón come with four tacos dorados filled solely with requesón (Mexican ricotta cheese). It's one of the simplest tacos I’ve ever had. This place hooks it up with repollo (cabbage), rábanos (radish), salsa de tomato, and some salsa de botella, too, to add texture and greater flavor.

    My favorite part of this particular taco was that the tortilla never got soggy despite the moist cheese. Every bite was, in fact, quite crunchy, taking me back to simpler times when my mom would have to come up with new dishes to feed us.

    If you are craving nostalgia for home-cooking in the form of a taco, this is the place to check out. 

    1811 N. Long Beach Blvd. Compton, CA 90211. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Line 60 - "Long Beach/Pine" or Bus Line 125 - "Rosecrans/Long Beach."

    Los Del Al Pastor
    Los Del Pastor tacos, photo by Oscar Rodriguez Zapata for L.A. TACO.

    Los Del Pastor ~ Al Pastor

    Driving down Atlantic Boulevard in Compton can be hypnotizing with the abundance of food trucks you have to choose from. Each promises an adventure of its own.

    One of the first in line is Los Del Pastor Estilo Poblano, which makes its own tortillas hechas a mano. Outside of their trailer, they are grilling bistec on a charcoal grill, with a salsa de molcajete and choices of traditional red and green salsas, along with the usual fixings. 

    These al pastor tacos made me sing (I ordered four). The tender red pork melts in your mouth and the corn tortillas are just as excellent. The salsa is not for rookies, but if you like to live on the edge and seek salsas so hot they make you see heaven, this is the place for you.

    East Rancho Dominguez Park ~ 15116 S. Atlantic Ave. Compton CA 90221. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Lines 127 and 260 - "Atlantic/Compton." 

    Birriería Gonzalez.
    Birriería Gonzalez truck, photo by Oscar Rodriguez Zapata for L.A. TACO.
    Quesataco at Birrieria Gonzalez.
    Quesataco at Birrieria Gonzalez, photo by Oscar Rodriguez Zapata for L.A. TACO.

    Birriería Gonzalez ~ Quesataco de Birria 

    These days, you see birria de res (beef birria) on everything: pizza, quesadillas, ramen, and even ice cream. It's even tempting to say we've had enough birria de res in this lifetime.

    To be honest though, I’ll never get tired of a great quesataco de birria. The high-quality of Birrieria Gonzalez has made it a staple for birria de res street tacos, vampiros, tostadas, burritos, and quesadillas, with over a dozen locations across L.A. and O.C.

    The tortilla is a little crispy, and served with glorious griddled cheese, but only enough to hold all the juicy birria inside together. Every bite is a comfort, delicious, and filling. And kinda messy, so keep your parchment paper to keep the juices from getting all over your hands.

    East Rancho Dominguez Park: 15116 S. Atlantic Ave. Compton, CA 90221. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Lines 127 and 260 - "Atlantic/Compton." 

    Birriería Barajas truck, photo by Oscar Rodriguez Zapata for L.A. TACO.
    Birria de Chivo at Birriería Barajas, photo by Oscar Rodriguez Zapata for L.A. TACO.

    Birriería Barajas ~ Birria de Chivo  

    As a first-generation kid, seeing my abuelo sacrifice a chivo (young goat) in my honor the first time I visited Mexico was terrifying. I never ate chivo after that.

    But Birrieria Barajas must add a lot of love to their birria, because I couldn’t stop eating it. Every bite was deeply satisfying and lacked that chivo funk that can be an acquired taste for some, and an obsession for others. With every bite, my guilt about my past encounter with grandma's chivo sacrifice melted away.

    An order comes with three tacos, plus consomé, a taquito de frijol, a piece of chivo, and a side of salsa. The meat is luscious and juicy, slipping right off the bone, as the consome ties everything together.

    It opens and closes early, but only because it always sells out. So get there as soon as you can after waking up if you want a taste of this OG birria de chivo.

    4214 E. Compton Blvd. Compton, CA 90221. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Line 127 - "Compton/Harris" or Bus Line 260 - "Atlantic/Compton."

    Gastro pub in Compton.
    Gastro pub in Compton, photo by Oscar Rodriguez Zapata for L.A. TACO.
    Cuatro tacos de asada at Compton Gastropub.
    Cuatro tacos de asada at Compton Gastropub, photo by Oscar Rodriguez Zapata for L.A. TACO.

    Boulevard Gastropub ~ Asada (Tuesdays only)

    This restaurant sits between two amazing taco spots, with green neon signs and a hospitable atmosphere. You'll be greeted by murals featuring the great Pedro Infante and Juan Gabriel.

    Boulevard Gastropub is family-owned and operated. They have Tacos Tuesdays, in which they offer four packed tacos for $10 with a free drink.

    But it's not your typical taco Tuesday. Boulevard Gastro Pub started taco Tuesdays with the purpose of connecting with the surrounding community of Compton and getting its residents to try something new. 

    On Taco Tuesday, you can find their "street taco" menu, which has sirloin, al pastor, tri-tip, and chicken. We were hunting for a great asada taco and found a melt-in-your-mouth one with sirloin steak on a crispy tortilla topped with your optional cilantro, onions, and salsa. The salsa verde is a personal favorite.

    If you are a tri-tip fan, I recommend it here in a taco, which is done in a traditional street taco way with a crispy tortilla and soft cut of tri-tip topped with chimichurri sauce and pickled red onions that left me speechless.

    They should have sign like at the library, imploring people not to disturb the special moment when someone takes a bite of this taco. And the best part of it all? You can wash it down with a nice craft beer on draft.

    4309 E Compton Blvd. Compton CA 90221. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Lines 127 and 260 - "Compton/Atlantic."

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