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Downey

The 8 Best Tacos In Downey

From finding your way through the humblest, Sinaloan, and Jalisco-style tacos to poorly constructed $12 tacos pretentious restaurants serve to the mini-mansion crowds, here's where to find taco-bliss in the "Mexican Beverly Hills."

1:58 PM PDT on May 23, 2023

The Gloria’s Taco at Gloria’s Cocina, photo: Memo Torres

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Downey, land of mini-mansions, the site of the oldest McDonald’s still in operation, and home to California’s first indoor shrimp farm. Referred to as the “Mexican Beverly Hills,” there’s one thing this city does have in common with the real Beverly Hills: you won't find a taco stand within its city limits.

Nevertheless, you can learn a lot about the demographics of Downey from the tacos offered within its limits. From the humblest, Sinaloan and Jalisco-style tacos of its working-class folks, to the poorly constructed, twelve-dollar tacos at pretentious upscale restaurants serving the mini-mansion crowds. Somewhere in between them, you’ll find younger taquerías serving the standard taco offerings, only with the addition of higher-grade meats.

While this city may boast about the luxuries it does have, it lacks the luxury of having street taco stands at night. So if you’re in need of a taco, we’ve navigated through its many taquerías and restaurants to create a guide to Downey’s very best.

Gloria's Cocina, photo: Memo Torres

Gloria’s Cocina Mexicana

This Mexican pueblo-themed restaurant is not only one of my favorite Mexican restaurants in the L.A. area but also serves one of my favorite tacos: the Gloria’s taco is a ranchero’s perfect meal: flame-cooked asada served in a juicy, roasted tomato-based salsa ranchera then topped off with a strip of grilled nopal and a thick cut of fresh panela cheese. All their tacos are served on handmade yellow corn tortillas and reign supreme in Downey. Gloria's juicy carnitas with crispy ends, topped with creamy guacamole, is a sure shot, and the Baja-style fish taco is endearing. But their Gloria’s Taco is worth driving for no matter where you are in Los Angeles. 

7401 Florence Ave. Downey, CA 90240. Closest Metro line and stop: Bus Line 111 - “Florence/Old River School (eastbound)” or "Florence/Tecum (westbound)."

photo: Daniel Suarez

Tacos Estilo Guadalajara 

If there’s a taco with a particularly addictive characteristic, it’s the fluffy tacos al-vapor from Tacos Estilo Guadalajara. They are consistently one of L.A.’s most underrated, underappreciated tacos. Primarily made from all the meats that come from the head of a cow, the textural variety provided within adds complexity to this otherwise simple taco served on sand-dollar-sized tortillas softened with steam. The habanero salsa finish adds to this taco’s addictive quality. You should have no problem putting down at least a dozen of these. 

13121 Lakewood Blvd. Downey, CA 90242. Closest Metro lines and stop: Metro C Line - "Lakewood Boulevard Station" or Bus Lines 117, 265, or 266 - “Lakewood/Gardendale.”

photo: Memo Torres

Tacos El Grullo Estilo Sinaloa

The flame-grilled asada tacos from Sinaloa with their unique brothy salsa splattered on top are slowly making themselves known in Los Angeles in recent years. But in this corner of Downey, El Grullo has been serving them for fifteen years, staying low-key with a loyal customer base. The move here is their taco macho, a small chile relleno with queso fundido, topped with asada, onions, cilantro, and that special Sinaloa sauce. Grilled onions served on the side just give it that final asada touch to complete this plebada of a taco. 

8446 Telegraph Rd, Downey, CA 90240. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Lines 62 or 266 - “Telegraph/Lakewood.”

photo: Memo Torres

Tacos Don Goyo Estilo Tijuana

If there’s one taquería that has put Downey on the taco map, it’s Tacos Don Goyo. During lunch hour, it sends plumes of asada-scented smoke traveling down Telegraph Road, while pumping fresh grilled tacos out of its tiny windows. Peer through the shoe box-sized order window, and you’ll see a trompo spinning like the Tasmanian Devil, dripping al pastor juices as it roasts, readying to be sliced onto fluffy, yellow corn tortillas. This taquería has built name recognition around its tacos and is frequently mentioned in L.A.’s more extensive taco lists, including our own "69 Best Tacos in L.A." list.

8502 Telegraph Rd. Downey, CA 90240. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Lines 62 or 266 - “Telegraph/Lakewood.”

photo: Memo Torres

Mariscos y Tacos Raul

Walk up to this well-lit window with colorful signs on Firestone Boulevard and peer through the clear glass to see a taquero shaving fresh al pastor from the trompo, heating up tortillas on the griddle, and chopping meats on the board. The al pastor here might be arguably one of the best in Downey.

The two-bite-sized tacos are served with grilled and seasoned onions and jalapeños at $1.50 a piece, satisfying both any budget and hunger during the daytime or late at night.

8740 Firestone Blvd. Downey, CA 90241. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Lines 115, 127 or 266 - “Firestone/Lakewood.”

photo: Memo Torres

Taquero Mucho

For the juiciest tacos, Taquero Mucho’s guisados are almost a cheat code for the best tacos in Downey. Different proteins stewed in different sauces will always guarantee a gush of flavor with every bite of taco, nearly negating the need for any extra salsa. Your options are many: barbacoa marinated in guajillo sauce, chuletas de puerco with nopales, a lively cochinita pibil, or a robust bistec ranchero. Located in the center of Downey, these guisado tacos make Taquero Mucho a tiny corner of flavor tucked in the heart of this city. 

8260 Firestone Blvd, Downey, CA 90241. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Lines 115 or 127- “Firestone/Downey.”

photo: Memo Torres

Teddy’s Red Tacos

The man many consider to be the pioneer in popularizing birria de res in Los Angeles has gone from selling it from the trunk of his car to opening birria shops all over Los Angeles, including a drive-thru just blocks from the heart of Downey. Teddy’s Tijuana-style birria de res tacos are distinct from all other birrias, with their red hue and balanced, rich flavor. The most popular deluxe plate gives you a taco, mulita, vampiro, quesadilla, and consomé to hold you over for awhile.

7665 Firestone Blvd. Downey, CA 90241. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Line 115 - “Firestone/Rives” or Bus Line 265 - "Paramount/Firestone."

photo: Memo Torres

LA Taquería

To answer your first question: no, this is not L.A. Taco’s taquería. But if you’re looking for tacos with meats that are a cut above the rest, this new taquería concept from Chef David Fuerte, the renowned former chef at Masataco and the current founder of La Carnecería Wagyu, has exactly what you seek. Rib eye, bulgogi, costilla, cochinita, and pork chile verde tacos are just a sample of what they're serving. It’s a new school taquería that serves everything from breakfast tacos with thick cuts of meat, a variety of guisados to serve diverse cravings, and the more expected styles of taco, only with elevated meats. We couldn’t expect anything less from Fuerte.

9500 Lakewood Blvd. Downey, CA 90240. Closest Metro line and stop: Bus Line 266 - “Lakewood/Gallatin.”

Bonus

photo: Memo Torres

Luis’ Butcher Shop

This carnicería off Lakewood and the 105 Freeway, which specializes in quality cuts, wines, and fresh produce, also boasts a tiny taquería within to showcase its meats. And while they have a great menu, including tacos, I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you to walk in and order their superb, eighteen-hour-smoked chipotle brisket sandwich. It has whole, tender cuts of meat served on a toasted French roll, smeared with chunky guacamole and cheese. The bread, guacamole, and cheese all fight to counter that hickory smoke flavor from the brisket, creating a choreographed fight of a cinematic scale in your mouth. Definitely a standout sandwich in Downey. 

9071 Imperial Hwy. Downey, CA 90242. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Line 120 - “Imperial Highway/Columbia” or Bus Lines 117, 265 or 266 - "Imperial Highway/Lakewood."

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