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The 13 Best Tacos In Downtown Los Angeles

From crispy yellowfin flautas to mesquite-grilled costilla (rib) asada tacos, downtown Los Angeles is one of the city's most taco-stacked neighborhoods. Whether you're driving by, bar crawling, or taking public transit through it, here are the best tacos found in all corners of DTLA.

2:17 PM PST on February 22, 2024

    Flauta taco at Ditroit.

    Flauta fish taco at Ditroit. Photo by Erwin Recinos for L.A. TACO.

    These are the best tacos in Downtown L.A.

    More times than we'd care to admit, we've found ourselves in the streets of downtown Los Angeles in dire need of hunger-annihilating salvation between the folds of a creased tortilla.

    Luckily for all of us, Downtown Los Angeles is one of the most taco-stacked neighborhoods in the city.

    Whether you're driving by, bar-crawling, or taking public transit through it, here are the best tacos in and around Downtown L.A.

    Four tacos dorados in taco holders from Chuy's Tacos Dorados
    Tacos dorados. Photo via Chuy's Tacos Dorados.

    Chuy’s Tacos Dorados ~ Arts District

    If Tito’s Tacos can be compared to Burger King or McDonald’s, then Chuy’s Tacos Dorados, built on recipes descended from owner Betsy Leon's grandfather's restaurant from Culiacan, Sinaloa, would be more like an In-N-Out or Shake Shack.

    The potatoes are hand-peeled and the cheese is shredded daily. The beef is imported from Sinaloa's SuKarne, sliced and simmered over four hours using Leon's father's own spice blend. The salsa verde and salsa roja, both served hot, are crafted with a blend of beef-and-chicken broth, and the fried tortillas always retain their structure, even when eagerly chomped down upon in four or five frenzied bites.

    This Downtown location is now the only one still in existence. And should be enshrined in platinum.

    1335 Willow St. Los Angeles, CA 90013. Closest Metro line and stop: Bus Line 18 - "6th/Mateo."

    Al pastor taco at Yxta
    Al pastor taco at Yxta. Photo from L.A. TACO archives.

    Yxta ~ Skid Row

    Jesse Gomez’s 14-year-old restaurant has defied every single odd ever stacked against it. Open since 2009 on the edge of Skid Row, the laid-back restaurant is a straight-up oasis for consistently delicious and excellent, high-quality Mexican food.

    Yxta is eastside DTLA's top destination to enjoy an executive taco lunch, since they are one of the few brick-and-mortar restaurants in the city with a lunchtime trompo spinning some solid al pastor.

    The secret to this restaurant’s success is chef Jose Acevedo, who has been with the restaurant since the early days. He makes sure the food is consistently delicious every single day. The tortillas are handmade, and the little slice of piña that separates al pastor from the rest of the taco kingdom is always ripe and delicious.

    If taking the 18 or 720 Metro bus lines through here, please take advantage of their full liquor license and Mexican wine. If you’re in the mood to build your own tacos instead, their carne asada plate packs a legendary level of juiciness. 

    601 S. Central Ave. Los Angeles, CA. 90021. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Lines 16, 18, 53, 62, and 720 - "6th/Central."

    A chicken and pinto bean taco on a flour tortilla at Loqui taqueria
    Chicken taco. Photo via Loqui

    Loqui ~ Arts District

    We never thought we'd allow a San Francisco taqueria into our hearts. And then came our meet-cute with Loqui, which shattered these steely defenses by feeding us handmade flour tortillas filled with smoky, tender mushrooms and flavor-packed cuts of adobo-smothered chicken thighs.

    Suddenly, we didn't quite know who we were anymore, ordering chicken-and-pinto bean tacos from a NorCal taco joint that had its start as a pop-up at Tartine Bakery. But we liked it. Now we're just wondering if anyone wants to produce this as a romantic comedy. Meet us in the Arts District—chicken tacos on us.

    803 Traction Ave. #150, Los Angeles, CA 90013. Closest Metro lines and stop: Metro A and E Lines - "Little Tokyo/Arts District Station" or Bus Line 106 - "1st/Vignes."

    Tacos 1986 taquero Joy Alvarez-Tostado
    Tacos 1986 taquero Joy Alvarez-Tostado. Photo from L.A. TACO archives.

    Tacos 1886 ~ Spring Street

    You'll find just four tacos on the menu at the spreading phenomenon known as Tacos 1986: chicken, carne asada, puerco adobado (the Tijuanense variation of al pastor), and mushrooms (for all you vegetarian taco lovers out there). The portions are generous, with the tortillas providing more space for fresh fixings than your usual street tacos.

    But we're here to kick knowledge and point you towards the off-menu customer favorite: the perrón, which involves a flour tortilla holding creamy melted Monterey jack cheese topped with lean carne asada, pinto beans, and guacamole. These tacos pack the right balance of rich savor and tender chew, without leaving your hands covered in sufficient grease to clarify cardboard.

    Wash the whole meal down with an ice-cold horchata or jamaica and bask in all that good, good Downtown people-watching. Hey, we know that guy.

    609 S. Spring St. Los Angeles, CA 90014. Closest Metro lines and stop: Metro B and D Lines - "Pershing Square Station" or Bus Lines 16, 18, 28, 30, 33, 53, 60, and 92 - "Spring/6th."

    A fish dish known as pescado zarandeado showing a butterflied whole sea-bream with circles of onion on top
    Pescado zarandeado at Corteza's by the Pico Station. (Brian Feinzimer for L.A. Taco)

    Corteza ~ South Park

    You're moving on up. To the big time.

    Specifically, 24 floors up the Ritz Carlton beside L.A. Live to enter Corteza, one of the Latin American-inflected concepts at Kevin Luzadne’s ambitious Sendero.

    Have a mezcal for your efforts and order the chef's pescado zarandeado, a Nayarit-inspired serving of dry-aged seabream, marinated in chile paste and speckled with soy sauce broth-marinated onions, served with a bright green salsa verde and quiver full of house-nixtamalized tortillas.

    But your work isn't over yet. Next, you'll build your own tacos from this glorious fish dish, making them fat, raising them to the sky, and saying something epic to everyone amassed. Trust us, it'll be worth it.

    900 W. Olympic Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90015. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Line 28 - "Olympic/Georgia", Metro A and E Lines - "Pico Station", or Bus Lines 81, 460, and J Line (910/950) - "Figueroa/Olympic."

    A plate of Carnitas at Los Gabrieles. Photo via their Facebook page.

    Carnitas Los Gabrieles ~ Pinata District

    The piñata district is one of L.A.’s most incredible hidden gems, selling more piñatas, candies, and party favors than the rest of the city combined within just a couple of blocks. The street food stands positioned along these streets have transformed the area from just feeding piñata shoppers to making it a local eating destination of its own.

    Still, one stand has risen above the colorful paper figurines to become queen of the block, and that’s Guadalupe Baez and her caldrons of Michoacan-style carnitas, succeeding in world where males dominate this specific cooking craft.

    Her tender and juicy pork meats, from cueritos to costillas, have earned loyal patrons over a 20-year stretch. These might be the only carnitas chefs in Los Angeles that, after spending hours preparing and cooking pork, still put in the extra effort to make handmade tortillas for their customers.

    Carnitas Los Gabrieles isn’t just one of the best tacos in downtown L.A.; it’s also one of the best carnitas in the whole county and one of the most unique and colorful shopping destinations you can experience.

    1251 E. Olympic Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90021. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Lines 53 and 66 - "Olympic/Central."

    Plate of tacos at La Salsa.
    A plate of tacos at La Salsa. Photo by Memo Torres for L.A. TACO.

    La Salsa Tacos de Canasta ~ Santee Alley

    For most of L.A.'s modern history, there were only two places you could find these folded, well-oiled, and steamed "basket tacos." It was either outside the Mexican Consulate or in the heart of Santee Alley, aka, Los Callejones.

    The latter's chile oil-stained tacos, dug out of wicker baskets in a busy shopping alley, are as close to eating in a Mexican Mercado as you can find in our city.

    The tortillas are consistently of the highest quality, holding together after a good steam bath, and cradling a trifecta of fillings like potato, beans, and chicharron. Garnished with shredded cabbage and pickled jalapenos, three of these tacos make for a great snack. But if you’re starving, that won’t nearly be enough. Dig in.

    1285 Maple Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90015. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Lines 10, 30, 33, 48, and 55 - "Main/Pico."

    Photo via @villamichoacana/IG.

    Villa Moreliana ~ Pershing Square

    In an ever-developing Grand Central Market, one of the biggest comforts is knowing that a taco at Villa Moreliana will still be overloaded with caramelized pork. Many stands have come and gone, but Villa Moreliana has withstood the test of time and food trends (one day, we may chuckle when we remember there was a gourmet peanut butter and jelly pocket-sandwich vendor a few stalls over.)

    Like any true specialist, carnitas is all that's carried on the menu, offered in all the ways, including tacos, burritos, and tortas. No matter how you eat them, an order still makes for one of the best values in Downtown L.A. and will, with luck, forever be the case.

    in other words, if you have jury duty and need to stretch that lunch voucher, this is the place. It's also a magnificent spot to people-watch while supporting one of the most accessible stands in the market.

    317 S. Broadway Grand Central Market Los Angeles, CA 90013. Closest Metro lines and stop: Metro B and D Lines - "Pershing Square Station", Metro A and E Lines - "Historic Broadway Station", Bus Lines 30, 40, and 45 - "Broadway/3rd", Bus Lines 4, 10, 28, 48, 81, 90, and 94 - "Hill/3rd."

    Ditroit's swordfish machaca flauta. Photo by Erwin Recinos for L.A. TACO.
    Flauta fish taco at Ditroit. Photo by Erwin Recinos for L.A. TACO.

    Ditroit ~ Arts District

    Ditroit, the highly-pedigreed Arts District taquería opened by Enrique Olvera's Mexican restaurant empire, came out swinging with this crispy fish machaca flauta. Thank Jesus "Chuy" Cervantes, the restaurant's chef de cuisine, for bringing this spectacular crispy boi to our lives.

    The taquito was initially made with swordfish, which morphed into yellowfin tuna, prepared like a shredded fish guisado (stew). Fried in rice bran oil and topped with avocado salsa and a creme fraiche-queso fresco blend, it is the loftiest expression of the taco dorado Los Angeles has.

    2117 Violet St. Los Angeles, CA 90021. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Line 60 - "Santa Fe/Violet" or Bus Line 62 - "7th/Santa Fe."

    Tacos de asada at a chivichanga at Sonoratown. Photo by Javier Cabral for L.A. TACO.

    Sonoratown ~ Main / 7th

    The assembly of a Sonoratown taco is deceivingly simple and, at first, seemingly similar to the millions of other tacos being made in town. And then you take that first bite, and you realize that this taco is utterly different than anything else you’ve had in Los Angeles.

    The flour tortilla is made on premises, the high-quality short rib cut of beef that they use for their carne asada is grilled over a mesquite fire that never seems to go out; the hyper-fine, shredded cabbage adds crunch; there's a refreshingly spicy red salsa and thin avocado salsa; and a giant grilled green onion comes with every plate.

    Is this the most delicious taco in the city? It’s undoubtedly the most consistent. Which, for some, is just as important. 

    208 E 8th St. Los Angeles, CA 90014. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Lines 10, 28, 30, 33, 40, 45, 48, 55, 66, and 92 - "Main/9th."

    The Pocho Taco at Guerrilla Tacos

    Guerrilla Tacos ~ Arts District

    Chef Wes Avila crafted the original elevated tribute to everyone's hard-shelled, shaggy-cheesed, school-lunch throwback taco by making it with wild boar meat, aged cheddar, and pine nuts.

    The compelling crunch, savor, and nostalgic spices still resound in the recipe currently served at Guerrilla, which is made with ground beef, avocado salsa, Jack cheese, and cotija crema, holding down the title for most astute Mexican American-style taco in town.

    2000 E. 7th Los Angeles, CA 90021. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Lines 60 and 62 - "7th/Santa Fe."

    Two tacos de asada topped with avocado salsa on a plate.
    Taco de asada from Mexicali tacos.L.A. TACO Archives

    Mexicali Taco & Co ~ Chinatown

    At this long-standing taquería on the edge of Bunker Hill and Chinatown, you’ll find paper-thin flour tortillas, giant fried fish tacos, and those Coca-Cola-sponsored plastic chairs you see in Mexico.

    Mexicali Taco & Co, founded by vaquero-turned-chef Esdras Ochoa, began as a parking lot set-up not far from where this address, home to their first brick-and-mortar, was opened in Downtown over a decade ago.

    Today, two TACO Madness plaques hang above their assortment of self-serve salsas and taco garnishes at their DTLA location, making them one of only a couple taqueros to be crowned champions more than once.

    Ochos’s extensive OG menu is inspired by Mexicali street food staples and the small border town where he grew up, with an added L.A. spin. You’ll want to try their tortillas de harina, simply seasoned asada, and enormous, crispy-battered whitefish tacos topped with cabbage, spicy mayo-based crema, and pico de gallo.

    Their chorizo also tastes great in a vampiro (a crispy, cheese-topped Kernel of Truth corn tortilla topped), which comes infused with their “special” garlic sauce.

    702 N. Figueroa St. Los Angeles, CA 90012. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Lines 4, 55, and 60 - "Sunset/Figueroa."

    Cuernava Grill's chile relleno taco. Photo by Yaileen Ramos for L.A. TACO.
    Cuernava's Grill's chile relleno taco. Photo by Yaileen Ramos for L.A. TACO.

    Cuernavaca's Grill ~ Fashion District

    Cuernavaca's Grill is a small, second-generation nook owned by a Mexican-American family in DTLA's fashion district. One of the most popular items here is the jalapeño relleno taco that comes correct with al pastor inside. The tortilla acts as a nest for a butterflied jalapeno that is seared then filled with cheese.

    When taking that first big bite, you'll get the most oozy and textbook-perfect cheese pull a tiny camera could capture (see above). Topped with fresh pico de gallo salsa and crema Mexicana for contrast and a boost of richness, this is comfort food to be savored near downtown L.A.'s iconic callejones.

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