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The Ten Best Tacos Along the Metro E Line, From East L.A. to Santa Monica

Metro's mighty E Line now takes you from deep East Los Angeles to the shores of Santa Monica. Pescado zarandeado with a view in DTLA, a 35-year-old birria de chivo OG in Boyle Heights, and a Mixe-powered al pastor along the way. Get that TAP card out and let's go eat some of the city's best tacos easily accessible by public transit!

11:12 AM PDT on June 29, 2023

    The al pastor taco from La Flamita Mixe at the Expo Park/USC Station. (Brian Feinzimer for L.A. TACO).

    The al pastor taco from La Flamita Mixe at the Expo Park/USC Station. (Brian Feinzimer for L.A. TACO).

    Today we’re seeking out the best tacos on Metro’s mighty, mighty E line, which now takes you from deep East Los Angeles to the shores of Santa Monica in an extended slash across the city’s upper midsection. Along the way, E-goers can find a variety of taco greatness to revel in at some critical stops. 

    We’re talking about a chicken taco that defies the odds, a fine-dining reimagining of a Nayarit seafood classic served in house-nixtamalized tortillas. True birria de chivo and a 45-year-old burrito legend. And that’s far from all.

    Grab your Metro TAP card, and let’s eat tacos.

    Halibut Taco at Tacos Por Favor by the 17th St/SMC Station. Photo by Brian Feinzimer for L.A. TACO.
    Tacos Por Favor by the 17th St/SMC Station. Photo by Brian Feinzimer for L.A. Taco.
    17th Street / SMC Station and Expo / Bundy Station: Tacos Por Favor

    Tacos Por Favor is that Westside stand-by you‘ve probably heard about, especially if you’ve ever been cornered by a friend who never leaves Brentwood, raving about how it has “the best Mexican food in the city.” It has two locations, each conveniently located close to a stop on the E train, one in Santa Monica and another in Sawtelle, as well as a Venice address. It also has a vast menu of Mexican comfort standards, including cemitas paying homage to the Pubela birthplace of founder Atilano Sanchez, as well as tacos hard and soft, weekend menudo, tortas, quesadillas, and huaraches that use healthier ingredients than the norm. Another guarantee: The halibut taco is unique and delicious. It highlights the subtle natural flavors of the flatfish in the otherwise recognizable guise of a Baja taco.

    1408 Olympic Blvd. Santa Monica, CA 90404 and 11901 W. Olympic Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90064

    Mushroom taco on flour tortilla at Loqui by the Culver Station. Photo by Brian Feinzimer for L.A. TACO.
    Loqui by the Culver Station. Photo by Brian Feinzimer for L.A. TACO.
    Culver City Station: Loqui

    We usually like to throw shade towards San Franciscan incursions into L.A., especially if they come bedecked in orange-and-black uniforms and ball caps. And normally, we don’t order mushrooms when getting tacos unless we’re repenting for recent carnitas bacchanals. But Loqui, starting north as a pop-up at Tartine Bakery, worked its way into our hearts with its smoky, tender grilled mushrooms stuffed into the shop’s handmade flour tortillas with guacamole. Before we knew it, we were coming back for more and questioning our preconceived beliefs. You’ll find them right where the E stops at the Platform in Culver City. And hopefully, feel way less conflicted about the whole undertaking than we once did.

    8830 Washington Blvd. Suite 104 Culver City, CA 90232

    The al pastor trompo at La Flamita Mixe by the Expo Park / USC Station. Photo by Brian Feinzimer for L.A. TACO.
    The al pastor taco from La Flamita Mixe at the Expo Park/USC Station. (Brian Feinzimer for L.A. TACO).
    The al pastor taco from La Flamita Mixe at the Expo Park/USC Station. Photo by Brian Feinzimer for L.A. TACO.
    Expo / Vermont Station: Tacos La Flamita Mixe

    La Flamita Mixe, which has a few locations stretching into the Westside, is also standing sentinel just a few blocks from the Expo line’s Vermont stop on the western edge of our vast Natural History Museum/LAFC/bacon-wrapped hot dog territory. The business is run by taqueros from Oaxaca’s indigenous Mixe culture, who have built a reputation in Los Angeles for their professional approach to al pastor. The trompo is a bright brick-red with a sliced pineapple crown, available in tacos, alambre, mulitas, tortas, burritos, and more. They have other meats, too, but the pastor, savory with a light tropical touch, should be your priority. 

    1010 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90037

    Taco de pulpo at Holbox inside the Mercado La Paloma by the Jefferson / USC Station. Photo by Brian Feinzimer for L.A. TACO.
    Holbox inside the Mercado La Paloma by the Jefferson/USC Station. Photo by Brian Feinzimer for L.A. TACO.
    Expo Park / USC Station: Holbox

    Stop at the Expo Park/USC station and walk or ride a half mile east over to Downtown’s popping Mercado Paloma. You’ll find Holbox reveling in Yucatán's coastal recipes and culinary treasures. Located inside of Downtown’s Mercado Paloma, it is one of the city’s most unforgettable seafood experiences, with superlative fish tacos, luscious and bright ceviches and cocteles, mesquite-grilled lobsters, and raw delicacies like Baja’s almejas chocolates (chocolate clams), patas de mulas (blood clams), and live Santa Barbara uni with Baja Bay scallops. You can take our word for it. Or the L.A. Times, which just named it “Restaurant of the Year.” Better yet, sink your teeth into a hot and ingenious taco de pulpo made with octopus from the Gulf, braised and fried, and accompanied by a sinful sofrito stained in calamari ink. And let the taco do the talking.

    3655 S. Grand Ave. #C9 Los Angeles, CA 90007

    Pescado zarandeado at Corteza by the Pico Station. Photo by Brian Feinzimer for L.A. TACO.
    Corteza is inside the Ritz-Carlton by the Pico Station. Photo by Brian Feinzimer for L.A. TACO.
    Pico Station and 7th Street / Metro Center Station: Corteza

    You’ve made it to the heart of Downtown, and it’s time for special celebration tacos. Get off at the Pico and Flower station or the 7th Street station (until recently, the ultimate eastern stop on this line) and walk or ride a quick, lively half-mile to the Ritz Carlton hotel next to L.A. Live. Ascend in the elevator to the 24th floor and enter Corteza, one of the many Latin American-inflected concepts at Kevin Luzadne’s Sendero. Next, you’ll order his pescado zarandeado, a Nayarit-inspired serving of dry-aged seabream smothered in chile paste and speckled with soy sauce broth-marinated onions, served with a bright green salsa verde and a stack of house-nixtamalized tortillas. You’ll be building your own tacos from this glorious fish dish, as it’s only fair you do a little of the work after they’ve done all of that. Build your tacos fat, raise them to the sky, and cheers to you and your special dinner date. Don’t forget to tell them Metro sent you. 900 W. Olympic Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90015

    Taco de tripa dorada at Santa Cecilia Restaurant by the Mariachi Station. Photo by Brian Feinzimer for L.A. TACO.
    Santa Cecilia Restaurant by the Mariachi Station. Photo by Brian Feinzimer for L.A. TACO.
    Mariachi Plaza / Boyle Heights Station: Santa Cecilia Restaurant

    This unassuming storefront that may hold L.A.’s best taco de tripas is nestled in a hidden corner of Mariachi Plaza with hand-painted signage. Why? Because the tripas themselves, when requested “extra crispy,” are nothing short of a revelation. The tripa is so addictively crispy that it borders on chicharrón levels; it is seasoned magnificently—with the haunting flavor of tripa as the backbone. We suspect dried chile and cumin. Whatever Don Armando Salazar uses, the tripa taco will convert even the most squeamish into a fiend for tripas. This study in savoriness is underscored by a soft, warm, handmade white corn tortilla, which is a rarity in the tripa taco game in L.A. It’s the kind of taco you think about days after eating it.

    1707 Mariachi Plz De Los, 1707 Pleasant Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90033

    Picaditas de cecina being made at Tacos San Juditas by the Soto Station. Photo by Brian Feinzimer for L.A. TACO.
    Tacos San Juditas by the Soto Station. Photo by Brian Feinzimer for L.A. TACO.
    Soto Station: Tacos San Juditas 

    L.A.’s Taco Life is extremely competitive. There are taco stands and restaurants on nearly every other corner here, which is beautiful! To stand out, taqueros often rely on their regional approach to tacos, like Tacos San Juditas’ Puebla-style picadita. It’s perhaps the rarest of all late-night taco variations: a thick handmade tortilla with slightly creased-up edges that is toasted until lightly crispy on a flattop grill, ladled with half red salsa and half green salsa, topped with queso fresco, and your favorite meat. It goes nicely with cecina, another relatively hard-to-find when taco’ing your way across the streets of Los Angeles. It is a paper-thin cut of salted beef that is seared until tender. This stand also has taquería-style grilled pork ribs that you can snack on in between bites of your picadita. 

    2400 E 1st St Los Angeles, CA 90023

    Birria caldo at Birriería Chalio by the Indiana Station. Photo by Brian Feinzimer for L.A. TACO.
    Birriería Chalio by the Indiana Station. Photo by Brian Feinzimer for L.A. TACO.
    Indiana Station: Birriería Chalio 

    For 35 years, this birria shop has served heaping bowls of their tender, stewed goat birria in tangy tomato consomé. It attracts families who fill their jungle green vinyl-upholstered booths on weekends and blue-collar workers who come in for lunch during the week. It’s the kind of place you become quickly attached to after you come in a couple of times. The word “birria” gets tossed around a lot in L.A.’s taco scene, and it may shock many that the spiced shredded beef we have all come to love here is an evolution of the dish that originated in goat form. The stewed goat here is exemplary of old-world-style birria. They don’t serve tacos de birria here, just bowls of the stuff, because that is the traditional way—all the better to eat alongside Chalio’s chewy, mochi-like thick handmade corn tortillas. 

    3580 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90063

    The chile relleno burrito at Lupe’s Burritos by the Maravilla Station. Photo by Brian Feinzimer for L.A. TACO.
    Lupe’s Burritos by the Maravilla Station. Photo by Brian Feinzimer for L.A. TACO.
    Maravilla Station: Lupe's #2 Burritos

    They do not make places like Lupe’s Burritos anymore. Its roadside-style counter setup on the side of 3rd Street is reminiscent of a simpler time in Los Angeles. Jonathan Gold called the burritos here “emblematic of the ideal of Chicano-era Los Angeles.” You’ll taste the nostalgia as soon as you go in for that first big bite. The beans are arguably the silkiest in East Los Angeles, magma-like and custardy. They are wholesome when simply mixed with cheese, and especially rib-sticking as the base for Lupe’s chile relleno burrito. The choice of red or green salsa is up to you, but it’s a win-win. The menu has stayed the same for the last 48 years, so you can’t go wrong with anything your gullet desires on the particular day you visit.

    4642 E. 3rd St., Los Angeles, CA 90022

    The fish taco at El Dorado Express by the Atlantic Station. Photo by Brian Feinzimer for L.A. TACO.
    El Dorado Express by the Atlantic Station. Photo by Brian Feinzimer for L.A. TACO.
    Atlantic Station: El Dorado Express

    El Dorado Express flies extremely low in L.A.’s fish taco scene. It often gets overshadowed by a much more famous fish taco restaurant down the street, but it is one of the city's tastiest. It’s a nice representation of an Ensenada-style fish taco with a batter that is always crispy. The chile powder-dusted fried chiles güeros included with each taco serve the same purpose as fries with your cheeseburger. They go well together and round out the fish taco-eating experience. The small taco shack only has outdoor seating and shares its eating area with Bob’s Freeze, the go-to spot in East L.A. for soft serve. It turns out ice cream is the perfect dessert to have after feasting on fish and shrimp tacos. 

    5144 E Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90022

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