The 12 Best Tacos in Van Nuys
Van Nuys is home to L.A.'s arguably best vegan tacos, but the neighborhood also holds regional Mexican guisado gems not found anywhere else in L.A., like Guanajuato-style birria and a rare Asado Duranguense. It's time to the head to the Valley for your next taco crawl.
4:35 PM PDT on June 27, 2023
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From late-night cruises on Van Nuys Boulevard to the daily ride and grind through its streets and the 405 freeway, it should be no surprise that Van Nuys attracts a diverse assortment of small restaurants and pop-ups trying to build small businesses with unique food items. And while we’d love to tell you about a 50-year-old Italian sandwich shack and Argentinian choripanes, this list will focus on the best tacos because, like most of Los Angeles, there are so many to choose from.
From great general taquerías to rarities like Guanajuato-style birria and a rare asado Duranguense, you’ll find that Van Nuys is home to exceptionally diverse taco lifestyles.
Since Joel joined his father in the kitchen, Mariscos Corona has seen its operation shift into overdrive with a vibrant menu upgrade propelling them to social media stardom. While the hype mostly surrounds their unique take on mariscos, their tacos are worth the trip alone. A trio of tacos de gobernador ooze with sauteed shrimp and cheese folded inside tortillas that are so seasoned you could mistake them for quesabirria tacos. The fried fish taco is a flaky sea bass served with pickled onions and salsa. And an off-menu pulpo a la diabla taco will bring a zesty hot marinade on perfectly grilled octopus tentacles. The usual proteins, like asada, al pastor, and carnitas, get the same dank treatment.
14901 Sherman Way, Van Nuys, CA 91405. Closest Metro line and stop: Bus Line 162 - "Sherman Way/Kester."
Walk into Birriería Lupita, and you’ll be tempted to choose from a wall-to-wall menu of 60-plus pictures of dishes. But the bread and butter here are a nearly perfect birria de chivo estilo Guanajuato served with its consomé that could rival the city’s best menudo in terms of complexity. A taco will cost you five dollars, but it weighs at least half a pound on a handmade tortilla. Enjoy tender bites of the seared goat meat after being kissed by the plancha. This taco has the potential to convince folks that goat is, in fact, better than beef when done right.
6641 Van Nuys Blvd, Van Nuys, CA 91405. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Lines 165, 233, or 761 - "Van Nuys / Vanowen."
7030 Van Nuys Blvd, Van Nuys, CA 91405. Closest Metro line and stop: Bus Line 233 - "Van Nuys / Vose."
Walking into this birriería can feel like stepping into a hideaway of sorts. The windows are gated, and a metal screen door with layers of white paint hides a small orange cave inside lined by industrial fridges on one wall and mirrors on the other. But that’s not the only thing it hides. Among the menu's five different birria and barbacoa options, there’s a unique taco that’s rare anywhere outside Durango. It’s a stew traditionally prepared for weddings made of pork and red chiles. The flavor profile lies somewhere in between a chile colorado and a mole with hints of sweet notes. This Asado Durganguese is served over a large, thick, hand-made corn tortilla garnished with onion, cilantro, and salsa to make one of Los Angeles’ rarest tacos.
14552 Vanowen St, Van Nuys, CA 91405. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Lines 165, 233, or 761 - "Van Nuys / Vanowen."
Before birria’s got Instagram-famous and birria sounded like the next big IPA to them, Nick of Birriería San Marcos took his father's retired taco truck and dedicated it to serving his mother's birria out of it. It’s a bold recipe of spices that brings customers back repeatedly for this specific birria experience. If you find yourself exploring other birrierías in the city and lose sight of good birria, this place is always a good spot to remind yourself of what a good birria should taste like.
5937 Hazeltine Ave, Van Nuys, CA 91401. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Line 154 - "Oxnard/Hazeltine" or Metro G Line - "Woodman Station."
When we think of breakfast tacos, Texas comes to mind with its folded—not rolled up—chewy flour tortillas, scrambled eggs, and a breakfast meat of some kind. The truth is that breakfast tacos are more diverse than that. Xochipili, which is the Aztec God called “The Prince of Flowers” and also the hometown of one of the partners, Juchipila’s namesake, in the state of Zacatecas, makes a unique plate of breakfast tacos. Tortillas folded over scrambled eggs, drowned in salsa verde, garnished with queso fresco and julienne onions, and served with refried beans. You likely won’t find a homely plate of breakfast tacos like these anywhere else. Pro-tip: Start off with a plate of gorditas to share, which are actually smaller versions of the sopes Juchipila is known for. These are topped with queso fresco, a brothy tomato sauce, and diced onions.
7213 Balboa Blvd, Van Nuys, CA 91406. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Lines 162, 235, or 236 - "Balboa/Sherman Way."
For tacos that hold meat like tea cups that hold tea, the big burrito makes wonderfully enjoyable little tacos. A generous but appropriate amount of meat is held by two thin tortillas that have been hardened to a light crisp. Each meat is prepared in its appropriate respective manner and matched with a comparable salsa. It’s an easy to miss taquería that pays close attention to every detail of every taco.
14525 1/2 Vanowen St, Van Nuys, CA 91405. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Lines 165, 233, or 761 - "Van Nuys / Vanowen."
Just a couple blocks from the Van Nuys airport on Sherman Way you’ll find this red-orange taco truck armed with trompo and a selection of all the essential meats including a mild-tasting birria. Order a plate of tacos and it’ll come served with grilled and pickled onions and grilled jalapeños. Ask for guacamole salsa on the side to add to your tacos and extra salsa in case the small amount they splash on them is not enough for you.
16119 Sherman Way, Van Nuys, CA 91406. Closest Metro line and stop: Bus Lines 162, 169, or 237 - "Woodley/Sherman Way."
If you find an Angel in the City of L.A., chances are it’ll be feeding disciples of the tacolife under its streetlights. What started as one Angel’s taco pop-up has grown into a valkyrie of tortilla-winged taco stands all over Los Angeles. Armed with massive trompos and pineapple-flicking taqueros, there’s no line too long that they can’t handle. It’s a TJ-style street taco served with a blessing of creamy guacamole that many in Los Angeles have learned to recognize.
15700 Sherman Way, Los Angeles, CA 91406. Closest Metro line and stop: Bus Line 162 - "Sherman Way/Haskell."
This bountiful al pastor trompo with a smooth, gentle flavor rules the valley streets. This Al Pastor has been the valley’s taco of choice since day one. You can order small street tacos or get generous-sized mulitas stuffed to the brim with meat and cheese. Tacos El Venado is a valley favorite and its tacos should be on everyone's radar.
6315 Sepulveda Blvd, Van Nuys, CA 91411. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Lines 154, 164, 234, or 237 - "Sepulveda/Victory" or Metro G Line - "Sepulveda Station."
If you can’t decide between Peruvian or Mexican? Why not both?! “It’s not fusion,” explains owner/operator Florencia Oropeza, “half the menu is Peruvian, and the other half is tacos.” But if we know one thing about cultures living side by side in Los Angeles, it’s that life finds a way to mix the best of each other into something better, like crispy, meaty, and tender chunks of Peruvian chicharrón served on a handmade tortilla. Top it off with some green aji and lively salsa for a crunchy and flavorful bite. This might be one of the few stands you can pair your tacos with tallarines, aka Peruvian noodles, or chaufa, Peruvian fried rice.
15303 Sherman Way, Van Nuys, CA 91406. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Lines 162 or 234 - "Sepulveda / Sherman Way."
It all started with a vegan pop-up turned taco truck, formally named Vegatinos, that climaxed by winning Vegan Taco Madness before disbanding the band and starting El Cocinero. If you want a vegan birria with consomé, then this is the spot for you. Made with a jackfruit base conquered with chiles and spices, you’ll find this vegan birria will please even the goat birria purists. Birria isn’t the only protein chef Vargas has successfully substituted. You can find crunchy soy chicharrón and a juicy al pastor amongst other menu choices. Van Nuys would be home to nothing less than L.A.’s elite vegan tacos.
6265 Sepulveda Blvd, Van Nuys, CA 91411. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Lines 154, 164, 234, or 237 - "Sepulveda/Victory" or Metro G Line - "Sepulveda Station."
Another titan of birria trucks in L.A. parks one of their trucks on this stretch of Sepulveda in Van Nuys. It’s a daytime operation serving a more tame and tender birria estilo Tijuana. A light consome and a crispy taco dorado is a great way to go, but there really isn't a wrong way of doing birria here anyways. It’s good any way you order it.
5820 Sepulveda Blvd, Van Nuys, CA 91411. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Line 234 - "Sepulveda/Hatteras" or Metro G Line - "Sepulveda Station."
There’s a brand new pop-up at the corner of Haskell and Sherman Way that's attracting new vendors. You can find crepes, churros, and even pan dulce sold out of the back of a van. But if you can get past your sweet tooth, I recommend you stop by the small pop-up with the red tent and an olla de barro filled with frijoles for some Puebla-style quesadillas made in the shape of mini-machetes. Long fresh-pressed tortillas offering ingredients common to the city of Mexico like huitlacoche, flor de calabasa, and an absolutely tantalizing chicken tinga that will stain your fingers and paint your lips.
15701 Sherman Way, Los Angeles, CA 91406. Closest Metro line and stop: Bus Line 162 - "Sherman Way/Haskell."
Memo Torres is a multi-media taco journalist and Director of Partnerships for the James Beard award-winning L.A. Taco. He was a finalist for the Ruben Salazar Award for Latino Journalists. He has functioned as a taco scout for numerous shows and can be seen on Netflix's Taco Chronicles and Pressure Cooker. Memo is also currently hosting a food guide on all iPhones' Apple Maps.
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