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The Six Best Tacos in Mexico City, According to the Most Respected Expert

12:42 PM PST on February 3, 2023

    El Venadito Tacos Mexico City. Photo by Mónica Rodríguez/@monicardz__.

    If there is one question that L.A. TACO receives almost as much as “what are the best tacos in L.A.?” It is definitely, “What are the best tacos in Mexico City?” The search for the perfect taco knows no borders, and with the pandemic looking nearly over as most restrictions are lifted, Mexico City is one of the easiest—and one of the most affordable—destinations for L.A. people to find their next dose of taco enlightenment. 

    Mexico and Los Angeles, sister cities since 1969, are their own taco galaxies, and it is a natural reaction to feel not only feel incredibly excited by the prospect of biting into life-changing tacos dripping with vibrant salsas but also potentially highly overwhelmed. 

    What tacos should you eat in your precious time there? For the taco-obsessed, stomach space is almost as valuable as currency in these trips, and there is nothing worse than biting into a mediocre taco (or, at the very least, a taco that you can find in Los Angeles).  

    Photo by Mónica Rodríguez IG @monicardz__/Guia Domingo.
    Pedro Reyes. Photo by Mónica Rodríguez IG @monicardz__/Guia Domingo.
    Pedro Reyes.

    This is also a question that Pedro Reyes, a longtime taco expert, food writer, and now the author of the latest hardcover taco guidebook Guia Domingo (Comercializadora 5TD, 2023), answers in his new book. He has spent the better part of his life searching for the perfect taco—he was a beloved guest on the “Taco Chronicles”—and lays it all out in his Mexico City taco masterpiece. It follows in the footsteps of Alejandro Escalante’s Tacopedia (Phaidon, 2012) but for an entirely new generation of taco life enthusiasts.  

    According to Reyes, the most important thing to know when looking for the best tacos in Mexico City is that there is a proper taco for every time of day. “When you ask someone from Mexico, ‘what is their favorite taco?’ They will think about a universe of possibilities, but those tacos will ultimately be divided according to their mealtimes: breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late-night or afterparty tacos.” This taco-eating philosophy inspired the rating system for Guia Domingo, a system ranging from one to three suns. One sun equals worth visiting. Two tacos represent a taquería with a great salsa and an excellent reputation and trajectory. Lastly, three suns mean that this taquería is worth traveling from anywhere in the world to try. 

    Without further delay, here are the six tacos you must eat in Mexico City, in Reyes’s own words. 

    El Jarocho in Mexico City.
    El Jarocho in Mexico City. Photo by Mónica Rodríguez IG @monicardz__/Guia Domingo.
    El Jarocho in Mexico City.

    El Jarocho

    This is a breakfast taco, a traditional one in Colonia Roma. This restaurant demonstrates the culture of tacos guisados well. Mexican people eat these types of tacos filled with stews every morning and sometimes for lunch. In particular, there is one taco here known as “El Campechano con Morita” that comes with bistec (thinly cut beef steak) with crunchy chicharrón prensado (chicharrón that is pressed to remove excess fat, and then crisped up). It is topped with a salsa de morita (smoked ripe jalapeños), and you have a choice of having it with a smear of beans. The business started as a tortillería, and the owner used to sell tortillas to the neighborhood’s construction workers in 1947, so the tortilla is incredible. They also have a salsa verde and a salsa macha. 

    Tapachula 94, Roma Nte., Cuauhtémoc, 06760

    El Venadito Tacos Mexico City. Photo by Mónica Rodríguez/@monicardz__.
    El Venadito Tacos Mexico City. Photo by Mónica Rodríguez/@monicardz__.

    El Venadito

    This is a classic daytime-only carnitas restaurant in the scenic barrio of Coyoacán, but what makes this carnitas shop stand out is a cut they call “chiquita,” which is a twice-cooked bacon of sorts. You can order your carnitas by cut here and always add a little bit of crispy chiquita. It’s super savory. The salsas are simple but so damn good. This taquería makes the kind of taco that you can quickly eat five to ten of them—easily. A lot of their customers have been coming here their whole lives. If you can, sit at the bar to see the beloved taquero “Tomas” do his magic. 

    Av. Universidad 1701, Agrícola, Chimalistac, Álvaro Obregón, 01050

    El Gran Abanico.
    El Gran Abanico. Photo by Mónica Rodríguez/@monicardz__.
    El Gran Abanico.

    El Gran Abanico

    This is another carnitas daytime specialist inside a grand cafeteria. They make great al pastor tacos, great alambres (meats and vegetables smothered with melted cheese), but the main draw here is carnitas. They are kept warm under the heat lamps and range in cuts. Their most popular taco is their cóstilla en trozo (sliced rib meat). Their salsas are also impressive, and they also offer as much pápalo, which is an aromatic herb typically consumed with cemitas. This taco is of fantastic quality and served generously, so it does draw large lines sometimes. But it is worth the wait.     

    Gutiérrez Nájera s/n, Tránsito, Cuauhtémoc, 06820

    Tacos Charly in Mexico City.
    Tacos Charly in Mexico City. Photo by Mónica Rodríguez/@monicardz__.
    Tacos Charly in Mexico City.

    Tacos Charly

    This taquería became famous for its suadero (confit beef brisket). It’s not just confit in oil, but it’s also simmered in water with aromatic herbs. This results in a juicier guisado-type suadero with notes of cumin and other herbs, that you finely dice or shred to place on your taco. The tacos are also on the smaller side, so you can easily consume up to 12 if you are hungry. They also offer suadero combinations with chorizo and costilla, but what makes Charly unique and worth traveling to is their unique take on simmered and then confit suadero.  

    Av. San Fernando 201, Toriello Guerra, Tlalpan, 14050

    El Vilsito in Mexico City.
    El Vilsito in Mexico City. Photo by Mónica Rodríguez/@monicardz__.
    El Vilsito in Mexico City.

    El Vilsito

    This taquería became iconic because of its double-life as a car mechanic shop during the day that transforms into a prolific taquería as soon as the sun goes down. They were featured on the Taco Chronicles and blew up. Now, they feature three huge al pastor trompos well worth 150 pounds each that they go through every night. People flock every night to enjoy tacos, tortas, volcanes (crisped-up tortillas with melted cheese), and anything else they can top with their world-famous al pastor slices. 

    Petén 248 y, Av. Universidad, Narvarte Poniente, 03020

    El Califa de Léon.
    El Califa de Léon. Photo by Mónica Rodríguez/@monicardz__.
    El Califa de Léon.

    El Califa de Léon

    This taquería is the creator of the “Gaonera” taco, this taco variation where the beef “filete” cut is so tender that it doesn’t have to be sliced into pieces. It is seared on a plancha with a kiss of lard and chunky salt. The tortillas are handmade, and all you simply have to add is lime juice, though their darker red salsa and green ones are great too. The quality is among the best in Mexico City and has earned iconic status.  

    Av. Ribera de San Cosme 56, San Rafael, Cuauhtémoc, 06470

    Editor's note: This interview was translated into English.

    Find both English and Spanish versions of Reyes's Guia Domingo, along with other mind-blowing delicious taco recommendations, here

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