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.
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
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.
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.
227 N Maclay Ave, San Fernando, CA 91340
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
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
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.
A proud San Fernando Valley native, Samantha "Sam" Nuñez is our Director of Marketing and Social Media. She holds a background in Public Relations and has a Corporate Communications focused Masters from USC. When Sam isn't grinding at the Trompo, she is out trying new foods, dancing Mexican Folkloríco or tasting new tequila and mezcal for her collection.
San Fernando Police Officer Jeffery King is charged with one felony count each of second-degree robbery and extortion, and one misdemeanor count of petty theft. Earlier this week a warrant was issued for his arrest. “Law enforcement officers take an oath to uphold the law, not to break it," Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón said in a statement.
Jesus Manuel "Güero" Mendez is the head taquero for Tacos Don Cuco, which has six locations around L.A. and the I.E. But he never forgets his humble beginnings selling tacos outside Tijuana's baseball stadium. A couple times a year, he still makes carne asada for the staff and players as a way to honor that.
Open since 1991 and operated by one of the daughters of Tijuana's famous fish taco gem, Las 4 Hermanas. The fish tacos at Alicia's are so delicious that they are charged to a running tab since most people always order more than they thought they wanted. But the portraits of old bikers on the restaurant's walls tell a deeper story.