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A ‘Civic Hacker’ Mapped Out Every Single Place That Sells Tacos In L.A. and It is Absolutely Beautiful

L.A. TACO is obsessed with tacos, devoting our very lives to giving you the most comprehensive taco coverage possible. But until the day that our taco drones actually achieve lift-off, we’re grateful to find kindred souls who are as committed to the taco lifestyle in Los Angeles as we are, to help suss out every last taco the city has to offer.

People like Omar Ureta, a self-described “civic hacker” at TheWorksLA and fearless leader of  MapTimeLA, who is dedicated to finding novel ways of conveying land use issues to the rest of us using open source tools and open data.

Ureta’s past projects include an interactive, map-based tour of L.A.’s bus shelters, an insane mapping of every building in Los Angeles with data on when they were built, maps of L.A.’s sewer lines and soil types, and Own It, a toolkit for identifying properties at risk for displacement, as well as those that fall under rent control rules.

And now he’s got two schematics we can really sink our teeth into: a map showing every place in Los Angeles that sells tacos and another with every place that simply has “taco” in its name.

Ureta’s dueling L.A. taco maps appeared on Day 3 of Twitter’s ongoing #30DayMapChallenge, both showing a colorful landscape of tacos to try throughout our city. The density is marked by colored dots, with the lightest signifying the presence of zero taco spots; the darkest dots signifying large groupings.

"I made these maps as part of the #30DayMapChallenge, which is being done on social media by mappers around the world to make a map each day during November," Ureta tells L.A. TACO. "And while my maps are all about L.A., I wanted to see if there was data on food, especially tacos."

He continues, "City of L.A. has business data, but I wanted the whole county and found out that you can use Yelp to aggregate and visualize their data. So I wondered where all the places that sell tacos were, much like typing in 'tacos' on Yelp. This allowed me to get listings for restaurants, food trucks, and street vendors."

"Then I wondered how many of these places had "Taco" in their business name and, yes, that includes Taco Bell and Del Taco. I titled them as such and posted. I'm now a week behind on making more maps, but still looking to meet the challenge."

From a glance, the macro-data (don't you love it when we talk high-tech?) of places serving tacos looks, perhaps, as expected, revealing very few commercial stretches of Los Angeles where you can’t find a taco, short of inaccessible mountain tops, strictly residential neighborhoods, and the runway at LAX.

The greatest concentrations of places serving tacos, probably to little surprise, tend to be in neighborhoods flanking downtown, with the greatest density apparent in the Koreatown/East Hollywood areas, between Hoover and Western. Less predictable splotches of ta-concentration occur in Hermosa Beach, Santa Monica, and Beverly Hills.

Who knows? The latter example could be due to an abundance of Chipotles, Qdobas, Poquito Mases, or wherever CAA guys go when they want barbacoa bowls for lunch. Though we can certainly say Mirame on Canon Drive has some of the most compelling modern Mexican food in the city, a credit to the 90210’s whole taco scene. Beverly Hills also has its own Guisados and we know people who keep recommending Otro Dia. Perhaps L.A.’s taco excellence may not know borders.

As far as places that have “Tacos” in the name, the heaviest concentrations again appear around downtown, bleeding into Boyle Heights and East L.A., though the citywide map shows density far and wide, with big numbers in South L.A. stretching towards a larger mass in Florence-Firestone and East Compton, two big adjacent zones in Highland Park, and a big ol' grouping in San Pedro.

Ureta, whose not only an L.A. TACO fan, but a member, tells us, “I'm hoping to catch up on some missing days in the #30DayMapChallenge and eventually add all the L.A. maps in a collage of sorts.”

We can't wait to see that.

And we must admit in the face of his hard data here, there are still hundreds of spots even seasoned taco websites like us need to explore within L.A.’s ever-expanding, ever-beautiful taco scene.

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