I always say, the Most Unexceptional tacos are the ones closest to you. That applies too if you’re one of the lucky few that are going to SoFi Stadium.
Obviously, you’re not headed to SoFi for the food. You’re there to enjoy a concert or sporting event, get lit, and afterward have a designated driver take you to the post-desmadre L.A. ritual of getting tacos.
You could drive across the Greater Los Angeles Area and visit one of the spots on our L.A. Taco 69: The Tacos That Define Los Angeles list. Or if you’re from out of town and want to get the L.A. Taco experience, we’ve narrowed it down to these ten tacos you must try when visiting Los Angeles. But more than likely, you want to quench your drunken appetite as soon as possible.
Good news…there’s no shortage of taco shops, trucks, and stands in and around the Inglewood area. You can drive down Hawthorne Blvd between Century Blvd and the 105 freeway to find a dozen taco trucks competing for your attention.
Here, we’ve narrowed it down to a select group of L.A. Taco-approved spots. From carnitas, birria, suadero, barbacoa, as well as good al pastor, we got you covered. There’s even a burrito in there worth mentioning and other little tips.
For true Michoacan-style carnitas, there are few options in all of Los Angeles that are on par with Carnitas El Artista, and Inglewood is fortunate to have this champion of Mexican deep-fried pork. Gustavo Chavez is a third-generation carnitas master, and their family-run operation includes his 15-year-old son, Kevin, who is proudly earning his place as the 4th generation to keep this tradition alive. For the pre-game, order pounds of these glistening hunks of juicy pork meat, tortillas, and salsa to make tacos for the tailgate, or stop by after to tame your borrachera. You can never go wrong with some of L.A.’s Most Unexceptional carnitas.
From the tortilla-making station down on one end to the self-serve salsas at the other, this stand is forty feet of unadulterated taco bliss. Ribbons of vibrant al pastor are shaved off the trompo directly onto a tortilla while suadero is pulled from the stewing chorizera pan of meats, chopped, and thrown on the plancha to finish it with those beautifully crunchy seared ends. Grab a quesadilla or mulita and watch the cheese pull as they open the freshly made corn tortilla and stuff it with the meat of your choice. Their al pastor and suadero should not be underestimated, they can easily compete with any of your favorite taco spots. It won't be long before all of Los Angeles knows about Tacos Naomi, mark my words.
There’s no King Taco or Tacos El Gordo, but Lennox has a tío, and he’s a bad ass taquero. On a busy night, if you look beyond the six different jugs of aguas frescas sitting on the counter, you’ll see mountains of chopped asada spewing fumes from the plancha as the taquero turns the meat over and over like a volcano being born in the Pacific Ocean. The tacos will hit the spot, but the real move is their burrito. I’ve said it repeatedly that the mark of a good burrito is its frijoles. Frijoles is a tortillas’ forgotten sibling that many taquerías cook with just salt and water, without a care. But a good tío doesn’t take frijoles for granted. Here, the beans are refried in the same oil pulled from their batches of carnitas, giving it a classic rancho flavor and oozing in greasy comfort. The burrito comprises only beans, meat, cebolla, cilantro, and chile; no rice or other fillings to clutter the flavors. Order mixed with asada and al pastor, and get a side of tacos de lengua and any other meat you’d like to try. But make sure you ask for their veggies. It’s a bag of hot pickled carrots, radishes, and jalapeños with such a gratifying snap and heat that you almost don’t need the extra cup of salsa on the side.
Tortuga Bay, 147 W Manchester Blvd, Inglewood, CA, 90301
The star of this restaurant is their torta ahogada made with their very own fresh baked bread. But living in its shadow is a crispy taco de barbacoa. It’s made Guadalajara-style with beef, seasoned and marinated, served juicy in two corn tortillas, and fried on the plancha with its own barbacoa lacquer, not unlike a birria taco dorado is prepared. It’s served with a plate of glossy caramelized onions (a.k.a Carne Lizard Onions), onions, and cilantro. Pry open a taco, throw in the fillings to your liking, pour their housemade Jalisco salsa and drop a few dabs of lime juice like you’re adding a couple drops of water to your whiskey to open up its inner spirit. Enjoy the crunch and be careful with the meat juice dripping from the back end.
Tacos Tamix, 5205 W Imperial Hwy, Los Angeles, CA 90045
Under the colossal columns of the 405 and 105 interchange on La Cienega Blvd and Imperial Highway, you’ll find one of the Most Unexceptional al pastors in the city. Snappy Food and Liquor Mart play host to Tacos Tamix in the evenings, who prop up their bright red trompo and slice away steaming cuts of al pastor onto tortilla after tortilla as cars fly by overhead. Tacos Tamix is better recognized in their bright yellow trucks with hot rod flames painted on the side. Here, it’s a taco stand but still serving up the regular menu items. By the way, the mart also has a sweet little deli serving inexpensive sandwiches in case you’re stuck with that one person who doesn’t like tacos, but you inexplicably still keep around as a “friend.”
The man many people consider to be a pioneer in popularizing birria in Los Angeles has gone from selling out of the trunk of his car to having birria shops all over Los Angeles, including one on Imperial Highway and Hawthorne Boulevard. Teddy’s Tijuana-style birria de res tacos are distinct from all other birrias for their red hue and their balanced, rich flavor. The deluxe plate is the most popular, giving you a taco, mulita, vampiro, quesadilla, and consomé.
Another great birria de res option can be found on La Cienega Blvd, parked at the eastern end of the LAX airport runways. With airplanes screeching overhead and the 405 traffic rumbling by in the background, this orange trailer serves up a mean taco dorado de birria. The tortilla is plancha fried to an almost Doritos-like crunchy texture. Take the taco and give it an Instagram dunk into a cup of consomé before taking that first alluring bite.
One of the cleanest and most reliable taco trucks near SoFi Stadium is Kike’s Tacos. You can find them parked outside “Old Town Lennox,” a collection of old houses that look like they were blown in by a tornado from Kansas. Kike’s Tacos has great tortillas, meats, salsas and a rare side that most taqueros don’t practice serving. It’s a simple, but small freshly made tostada smeared with frijoles. Save the tostadita though; pile it up with all the meat you dropped from the tacos on your plate, caramelized onions, and enjoy one last crunch to end your night.
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