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San Fernando

The Five Best Tacos in San Fernando

L.A. TACO is currently on its biggest mission yet: to create a food guide for every neighborhood in Los Angeles! Along the way, we will also be releasing brief histories of each neighborhood to understand L.A.’s past and present a little more, all the while celebrating how every square inch helps make our fine city the best in the world. Today we’re taking a look at Pomona.

San Fernando is “The First City of the Valley,” with its origins dating back almost two centuries. It is a neighborhood filled with contrasts from the vaqueros that still tend to their livestock in the area and lands to a place that is now home to second and third-generation proud Valley residents who work in the city’s booming manufacturing and commerce economies.

It is a city many Angelenos have fond memories of with their families. I can recount the weekends spent at the San Fernando swap meet searching for the newest Dodgers jersey with my dad, walking around with a bag filled with roasted peanuts, shamefully leaving a trail as we walked through the aisles. It’s also a place for remembering that life can be just a little slower. 

The city’s food can be nostalgic, and family memories come easily in a place like this. Here are our favorite tacos in this historic San Fernando Valley neighborhood. 

El Nayarit Tacos
El Nayarit. Photo by Sam Nuñez for L.A. TACO.

El Nayarit

There are always restaurants that feel like they are frozen in space and time. At El Nayarit, it feels like the early Sunday mornings in the early 2000s when the days seemed never-ending, and the restaurants were fully staffed by someone’s tía and tío. This is the spot to be at early on the weekend to catch a plate of the crispiest tacos dorados. They are stuffed with carne desebrada, crisp lettuce, and queso cotija, and with their table red salsa, these are the perfect start to the weekend. If you’re not full from the trio, their sopes rival the best in the area. The carne asada sopes provide the best crunch. Needless to say, it’s easy to spot the crowd favorites in this time warp of a restaurant. When you’re done, wash it all down with a good agua de jamaica and throw a quarter into the jukebox to close out your meal with some Ramon Ayala. 

657 N Maclay Ave, San Fernando, CA 91340. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Line 234 - “Maclay/5th” or Bus Line 92 - "Glenoaks/Maclay."

Papá Juan's. Photo by Sam Nuñez for L.A. TACO
Tacos at Papá Juan's Baja Grill. Photo by Sam Nuñez for L.A. TACO

Papa Juan’s Baja Grill

If you find yourself walking down the streets of San Fernando and craving some of the best fish tacos, look no further than Papa Juan’s. The restaurant’s ambiance takes you to Baja with its coastal decor, laid-back atmosphere, and Baja-style fish tacos flying out of the kitchen. Needless to say, the go-to tacos here are the Baja-style fish tacos. It is battered red snapper, pico de gallo, cabbage, crema Mexicana, and hot sauce. These, with an order of two grilled shrimp tacos, will give you the best of both worlds with distinct flavors. The service is always welcoming, and with a staff that’s always happy, it will be an even greater time.

227 N Maclay Ave, San Fernando, CA 91340. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Line 234 - “Maclay/4th” or Bus Lines 224, 294 or 761 - "Truman/Maclay."

Photo by Frank John Tristan for L.A. TACO.
Photo by Frank John Tristan for L.A. TACO.


What is there to say about a spot that makes handmade tortillas, is known for its Menudo, has burritos named after different celebrities, and usually has a wait time of 15 to 20 minutes and a line out the door for their food? Well, the food is damn good! Carrillo’s is the spot to be at any day of the week but particularly on a cold Saturday morning. The place reminds me of OG Mexican restaurants in Los Angeles with the wooden tables and chairs, beautifully engraved with the restaurant's name and the shiny metal countertop, a sweet and comforting site to those who can smell the aroma of maíz and carnitas for what seems like miles away. The locals say their carnitas keep them coming back, and their classic tacos de asada keep the kids happy. If you feel like you need a hearty meal, a plate of soft and almost buttery carnitas tacos with a piece of chicharrón is a Valley classic. Their house-made salsas complement any taco, and for those looking to branch outside of the carnitas, there isn’t anything on the menu that does not come highly recommended. 

1242 Pico St, San Fernando, CA 91340. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Lines 230 or 236 - “San Fernando Mission/Celis” or Bus Lines 224, 234, 294 or 761 - "Truman/San Fernando Mission."

Photo via Hub's Liquor & Tacos/Google Reviews.
Photo via Hub's Liquor & Tacos/Google Reviews.

Hub Liquor & Tacos

Hidden inside a liquor store, you’ll find Hub’s taquería, where they crank out some of the freshest tacos in the area. After the original owner came back six years ago, the quality of meats and speed of service have kept this community coming back to this truly hidden gem. My go-to order is a hefty three tacos de al pastor, with piña, two de asada, and two more de carnitas. While you wait for your tacos, walk over to the refrigerators and grab yourself a drink, maybe some chips to snack on for another day, and by then, your lucky order number should be ready to go. All tacos come to your table, piping hot off the plancha with red and green salsa. My heart always chooses red, but red and green are equally flavorful. You can’t go wrong at the Hub. It’s a true standout for the tiny community of liquor store taquerías.

1542 San Fernando Rd, San Fernando, CA 91340. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Lines 224, 230, 234, 236, 294 or 761 - “Truman/Hubbard.”

Photo by Sam Nuñez for L.A. TACO
Tacos at Tortas Ahogadas Las Originales. Photo by Sam Nuñez for L.A. TACO.

Tortas Ahogadas Las Originales 

For as long as many in the San Fernando community can remember, Tortas Ahogadas Las Originales has been there. It’s off the 5 freeway. Jiffy Lube marks the spot as a bonafide ‘hood staple. This place just doesn’t miss. Widely known for their monstrosity of a torta, this is the spot to get some quality tacos for a relative price. The restaurant prides itself on using the freshest of ingredients with an even more outstanding quality of meat, and it shows in the first bite of your tacos. The go-to order here is tacos de papa; they compliment your torta like french fries do to a cheeseburger. These tacos de papa are suitable for lent or year around, but you can’t go wrong with any carnes offered. Pro tip: Get your tacos de pierna (braised pork leg) bañada with the torta’s salsa roja and you’re in for the mash-up of a lifetime. 

11541 Laurel Canyon Blvd, San Fernando, CA 91340. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Line 236 - “Rinaldi/Laurel Canyon” or Bus Line 230 - "San Fernando Mission/Laurel Canyon."

Photo via El Faro/Google Reviews.
Photo via El Faro/Google Reviews.

El Faro

El Faro is one of the spots you have to hit up for a quick bite. The service is excellent. The banter with the tíos in the back is what many of the people in the community enjoy beyond the food. The crowd favorite has to be the tacos de al pastor with the fresh-cut piña on top. But the not-so-secret knock-out are their fish tacos. They are breaded and deep-fried. With the lettuce, avocado, and a squeeze of lime, you’re ready to put down a couple. Any of their tacos pair well with their agua de piña but get there early because it is the first to run out on a hot day. El Faro has been feeding its loyal Valley patrons for generations and will continue feeding the Valley for many more years to come.

13261 Maclay St, San Fernando, CA 91340. Closest Metro line and stop: Bus Line 690 - “Foothill/Maclay.”

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