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Finally, the L.A. Taco Guide to the Best Street Tacos in the San Fernando Valley

[dropcap size=big]B[/dropcap]eing born and raised in the San Fernando Valley has always been a sort of blessing and curse. It’s a blessing because I love my misunderstood hometown and all of the memories that it has gifted me.

But it is a curse because no one takes our taco scene seriously.

That is…until you find yourself in the Valley one night for whatever reason—which is inevitable in the life cycle of a true Angeleno—and that deep hunger for griddled tortillas and salsa comes at you in the middle of the night.

While I'm pretty sure I'll never convince my Los Angeles proper brethren to take a quick trip voluntarily over the hill for some good times, I'm hoping this list will at least pique your curiosity enough to call your cousin Rudy from Pacoima or your homie who bought a house with a huge yard in San Fernando that you haven’t seen in years, pound a few cold ones, and hit the streets to find out for yourself.

My list is short, but it is sweet. I didn't include many of the places that I tried because real talk:  They just weren't great. During this mission, I learned that social media followings don’t always equate to good tacos. But luckily for you all, I took the punch in the stomach that is a disappointing taco experience on an empty stomach, so you didn’t have to.

Tacos Chave, Laurel Canyon Boulevard and Kittridge Street (Bank of America Parking lot)

Tacos Chave was my first stop on this taco journey and what a great first stop it was! Setting up next to the Bank of America where the notorious North Hollywood shootout took place, I pulled up on a cool Sunday night. Tacos Chave bills itself as the best tacos “al estilo Puebla” and as I pulled up to the taco tent, I noticed the welcoming smell of handmade tortillas and nopales being toasted on the griddle. I went for a plate that I like to call “Suicide by Taco:” One each of asada, buche, al pastor, chorizo, and carnitas. While they were all generally great, the clear winner was the asada. Of note, this taqueria had the most notably spiciest salsas on this list, but the salsa roja is worth it.

Tacos “Bujía,” Woodman Avenue and Chase Street, 99 Cent Store Parking Lot

This is the kind of spot that you might drive by every single day and then beat yourself up after finally stopping to try it for not doing it sooner. This stand is actually part of a small empire of seven taco stands from the same owner, two of which are in the Valley with the rest residing in L.A. proper. If the rest are as good as this spot, then it makes sense because it is a visual feast. There is suadero—Mexican-style confit brisket—bathing in its own simmering juices, made on the spot. And a large trompo de al pastor that is constantly kissed by the flame and shaved by the swashbuckling of the trompero. The tortillas are not handmade but it sure doesn't detract from the overall experience. This is evident by the large group of people that often surround the stand. They honor the unwritten code of taquero excellence and still offer all-you-can-eat grilled onions and chiles toreados, frijoles de la olla, and a wide variety of un-watered-down salsas. Everything was delicious but the clear winner was al pastor which won me over with the intense flavors of its adobo. When I asked the taquero what the name of the stand was he laughed and mentioned they had no name. After a few seconds of thinking about it, he blurted out "Tacos Bujía!" At that moment, a new taqueria was born.

Vegatinos, Wednesday at 10437 Burbank Boulevard and Fridays and Sundays at 7610 Woodman Avenue

What else can be said about this Vegan taco spot?!? Recently voted by loyal L.A. Taco readers as the best Vegan Taco in all of Los Angeles in our first-ever Vegan Taco Madness, you should do yourself a favor and see what the hype is about. Their plant-based fillings are meaty enough to satisfy regular meat eaters. As a part-time vegetarian myself thanks to my lovely vegan wife, it's an exciting time to see more plant-based pop-ups and restaurants innovating and triumphantly competing neck and neck with the traditional means of protein. My go-to favorite from them is, of course, their flavorful al pastor taco.

Pablito's Tacos, Four Locations

Pablito's came into my rearview mirror via Instagram showing up on my feed as an ad. Any food-based IG account can make food look great with the right amount of editing but these tacos had an authentic look that effectively lured me in to try them for this all-Valley list. I was not let down as I visited their new location in North Hollywood. The handmade tortillas were nice and soft, almost like a tortilla de harina. While their unique and highly touted al pastor made with Peruvian aji chile was good, the standout of the night was still the taco king: Asada. These tacos induce that voracious taco adrenaline rush that you get when you are starving and take your first bite of a good taco. I could have seriously had ten more of asada tacos, especially since they happened to have $1 taco promotion on the night I happily landed on. Big ups to their green aguacate salsa which actually has nice big chunks of avocado.

Viva La Vegan Tacos

Originally started as a fundraising side hustle, this vegan taco stop started to gain some hardcore fans. Owner George, his wife Elizabeth, and their childhood friend Johnny have created a really original mix of vegan tacos with a homemade taste rooted in George's mom's cooking. They rotate more than 15 plant-based tacos so you'll always find something new to try on the menu. However, their potato taco is what I found the most admirable. For starters, it's a rarity that you find a potato taco at any stand in general but it's much more unfathomable when it's actually delicious and hits the spot. George uses a flatiron grill he built himself that gives the tortillas an almost-crunchy texture, converting these tacos into that magical hybrid taco that is right in the middle between soft and crunchy. Besides the tacos, come here for the positive vibes from the crew and the mission attached to it.  

Tacos El Venado, Multiple Locations

Many non-Valley people yearning for a taco will most likely end up at Tacos El Venado. It is a taco institution that pops up on your Yelp app when in the area and it has broken through to L.A.’s mainstream taco scene thanks to their large following on Instagram. If you ask a civilian from the Valley to point you in the direction of the best tacos, more than likely they'll mention El Venado. And why not? It’s hard not to be gravitated to a taqueria that always has a line of people waiting to get some grub. Their standouts are their suadero and asada and they are reliable when it comes to filling that taco void. I recommend this popular taqueria if you are a social taco butterfly and like to rub elbows with other taco enthusiasts. After all, tacos are a communal experience.

Tacos Soloma, Lankershim Boulevard and Vanowen Street (In Front of Advance Transmission)

I'll say it straight out of the gates: If I was forced to only eat tacos from one place for the rest of my life, it would definitely be from Tacos Soloma. Everything I tasted from here was incredible, full of flavor, fresh, and with an intangible taste you won't find at any other taco place that I’ve visited so far. When talking tacos, the following three little words make all the difference in the world: mesquite charcoal grill. The asada is steak-like and a thicker cut than the rest of the asadas you’ll find roaming the streets. The al pastor is just as good, if you can get yourself to give it a chance when the smell of the mesquite has put you in a sizzling-meat trance. I also had a taco de tripa that has me salivating every time I think about it. Heavenly doesn’t begin to describe it. Which, as my fellow followers of the taco lifestyle that have also graduated with a master’s degree know: Great tripas in our city or anywhere really, is a rarity. Smokey, crispy, and delicious thanks to that mesquite charcoal grill. If you close your eyes, you’ll be hard-pressed to realize that you’re in the middle of the street eating tacos and not in a backyard family carne asada. This is the taco spot to judge all others on, hell, even others in L.A. proper. No shortcuts, just flavor. If you do make the trek, make sure and tell them, "El muchacho del internet me mando." 

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