L.A. TACO is embarking on its biggest mission yet: to create a taco guide for every single neighborhood in Los Angeles! Along the way, we will also be releasing brief histories of each neighborhood to understand L.A. a little more and why each and every neighborhood that makes our fine city is unique in its own way. Check out ourArtesia and Lincoln Heightsguides and history on ourneighborhood page.
Today we’re in Sylmar.
Sylmar is one of the northernmost neighborhoods within the City of Los Angeles. Its history is often intertwined with the City of San Fernando, but it stands as its own suburban neighborhood at the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains.
With a population over 90,000, it is no surprise that you can find almost any kind of taco within this neighborhood. Sylmar is home to local favorites like Guidos Pizza & Pasta, El Milagro Bakery, and El Tarasco to name just a few. Family owned restaurants and family-run street vending is a part of the rich culture here. This community rallies behind hardworking people and is founded in the belief of getting ahead.
Historically known for the Sylvan Olive orchards, Sylmar continues to flourish as a modern day suburban-ranch community. If you find yourself in the area, you are in for a day of great eats! Come along and see our recommendations.
When you want handmade tortillas, luscious carnitas, and the freshest aguas frescas, look no further than Tacos Ruizeñores. With humble roots as a street vending spot dating back to 1998, this taqueria is home to Michoacan-style food and is nestled on the corner of Glenoaks and Roxford Street, right across the way from their initial street vending space. Evelyn Ruiz, along with her brother and sister-in-law, oversee the family's first brick and mortar, their late father’s dream ever present. Often referred to as “the spot in front of the liquor store,” Tacos Ruizeñores is now a Sylmar staple for those seeking the richest carnitas tacos in the area. With locally sourced ingredients, it is no wonder that customers flock here for the best and most flavorful tacos around.
I’m not shy in admitting that it takes a skilled hand and oftentimes a long history of family recipes for carnitas tacos to reach the level of greatness. With three decades under its belt, Tacos Ruizeñores has got it down. You can definitely put down three tacos and maybe another three with buche, which are equally soft and flavorful. To cut through the meat’s richness, the family offers salsa roja and salsa verde, both of which perfume the air, already swirling with the scents of fire, roasted chilies, and roasted tomatillos. After fighting my demons to put down all six tacos, I washed it all down with the freshest agua de melon. Prepared daily, they made me feel as though I was drinking the juice from the fruit itself, for an ethereal experience. Evelyn and her family aim to honor their father’s legacy by continuing to serve the best Michoacan-style tacos in Sylmar.
A dependable site for sore eyes (especially those partially closed after a night of hitting the bars off San Fernando Road, Truman, and McClay in San Fernando), this is a spot for comfort. Their birria tacos dorados are nothing short of delicious. Having stumbled over to their truck a few times myself, their quesabirria tacos, with a small cup of consume, always cure the impending hangover. Birrieria Tecalitlan offers both birria de res and birria de chivo. If you’re feeling moderately adventurous, get an order of three tacos de chivo, a small consomé, and (fuck it, why not) a mulita de birria de res while you’re at it.
Birrieria Tecalitlan is endlessly packed any day of the week, posted right in front of a Food 4 Less, a bright red beacon of hope on a cold night in Sylmar. Whether you’re with your kids, your partner, or feel bold enough to brave the line alone, there is nothing on the menu that isn’t worth the wait. The crunch from the tortilla, juxtaposed by a velvety consomé and the bite of freshly cut onion, is what I long for when approaching Los Angeles’ evasive, colder season. It’s been a staple in Sylmar for years and this truck full of goodies is here to stay.
What do you get when you cross a creative genius with a hard-working family? Tacos El Vampiro. This family-owned restaurant, like so many others in Sylmar, started on the sidewalk with their flat-top plancha and hopes that the community would rally behind their vision. I remember the first time going to this spot and remembering how fresh everything tasted. Now when I say fresh, yeah, I mean the ingredients, but I also mean that my plate felt like it was on fire. The tacos come straight from the meat-packed plancha, into the puffed up tortilla, onto the plate, and then into my mouth, like a proper taco should be served.
Tacos El Vampiro is placed between a nail salon and a laundry mat off Glenoaks. Conveniently placed, if you ask me, because there’s no way you are walking out of here with a clean shirt or hands. The tacos are just too damned good. The taqueros here often say that they’re in a league of their own with the quality and quantity they provide their customers. They are most known for their vampiros, but dare I say, their extra crispy tacos de tripas reign as king. Topped with extra spicy salsa roja, your customary onion-and-cilantro combo, and my favorite–pickled purple onions–it is easy to see why I hit these guys up a couple times a month. Their al pastor, with a small bit of pineapple, is yet another classic at this blossoming taqueria. If you have room in your stomach after all that, don’t forget to have a vampiro of your choosing for dessert.
TACOS LA GUERA
12697-12655 Glenoaks Boulevard, Sylmar, CA 91342
Fourth on the list, and the favorite among the late night community, is Tacos La Guera. Whether you’re looking for a full meal or a quick bite, you can’t go wrong when making a pitstop here. They’re on the main strip of Glenoaks and consistently have lines that rival its competitors. The taqueros say that their al pastor cuts, shorn straight from the trompo, and tacos de asada are what sell out the quickest. And it’s no surprise. Even before you get out of your car, the bewitching aromas from the al pastor trompo radiate through the atmosphere. The smell of meat cooking, the slight sweetness of pineapple roasting, and of course, onions in the midst of caramelizing quickly draw any lost soul in for a bite. You can find Tacos La Guera practically any day of the week, opening just as soon as the sun sets.
Our next stop in Sylmar is to see our friends over at Mi Ranchito. They hit the ground running with their first food truck almost a decade ago, and since then have built notoriety among the Sylmar community, the greater San Fernando Valley, and even nationwide. Having been featured as one of the top taco spots in all of the city by the L.A. TIMES, and as a top nationwide taqueria by Travel and Leisure, this one is a heavy-weight that calls Sylmar home.
Mi Ranchito is one of the few taco spots that buys premium quality beef, among other meats, in addition to solely using Mexican avocados for their avocado salsa. The quality of ingredients, on top of their handmade tortillas, make this one of Sylmar‘s greatest treasures to date. Mi Ranchito serves its community with pride and values each customer as a part of their ever-growing family. Owner Jesus even goes to the length to save all call-in order phone numbers to make sure he can greet everyone by their first names. And if you just so happen to be "Crystal with the extra beans," or the one they call “Maria la atropelladora,” just know that the team at Mi Ranchito is ready to meet your every exacting taco-need.
You thought we were done?! You can’t come to Sylmar and not visit MichexGod, home of drinkable virgin and vegan hangover cures . They arguably have some of the best miches in Sylmar. Gaining notoriety through their sweet and spicy rim paste, this restaurant is naturally popular with a young crowd. But bomb rim paste and miches are not all they offer. They are also home to some of the freshest seafood platos, too. Everything on the menu, including their aguachiles, ceviches, and shrimp tacos, have become go-to essentials for locals. After a hard day of work, play, or both, MichexGod is the spot to kick back at and enjoy a miche at with unforgettable mariscos.
Stay tuned for our history guide dropping on Thursday, and make sure to check back next week to see what city we hit next!
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.
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