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Taco Madness Champions: Sonoratown Tops Tight Race By 100 Votes, Mariscos Jalisco Wins Live Trophy

Los Angeles, CA – May 04:’s 10th Annual Taco Madness May 04, 2019. (Brian Feinzimer)

[dropcap size=big]T[/dropcap]housands of people filled LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes Saturday to celebrate the taco lifestyle in our tenth annual Taco Madness food festival. They got to witness the crowning of the 2019 Taco Madness champions: Sonoratown, who won the online fan vote, and Mariscos Jalisco, who won Best of Show at Taco Madness Live after a competitive round of judging by a select panel.

Taco Madness tournament winners and Sonoratown owners Jennifer Feltham and Teodoro Diaz-Rodriguez drink Jarritos from their trophy. All photos by Brian Feinzimer.
Los Angeles, CA - May 04:’s 10th Annual Taco Madness May 04, 2019. (Brian Feinzimer)

This was one of the closest Taco Madness competitions ever, with little more than 100 votes deciding the final round of voting between two of L.A.'s most popular taquerias. But in the end, flour tortilla specialist Sonoratown outlasted birria specialist Tacos Y Birria La Unica to win its second Taco Madness championship. Sonoratown won the title in 2017 and the downtown L.A. taqueria came in as a one seed in the tournament.

Mariscos Jalisco owner Raul Ortega, left, with the Sonoratown team.
Los Angeles, CA - May 04:’s 10th Annual Taco Madness May 04, 2019. (Brian Feinzimer)

This was La Unica's first year competing in Taco Madness and it more than held its own, soundly knocking off  every other competitor that they faced on the way to a finals appearance. The Boyle Heights taco truck beat two previous Taco Madness champions before falling just shy of a title. Only 1.1 percent separated the final two competitors. All told, there were several thousand votes casts this year in support of your favorite taquerias.

A Mariscos Jalisco-style birthday "cake." 
Los Angeles, CA - May 04:’s 10th Annual Taco Madness May 04, 2019. (Brian Feinzimer)

Taco Madness Live featured nine taquerias feeding the thousands of people, and also competing to win the judges vote for Best of Show. Our panel of judges included noted food writer, editor and Rogue 99 contributor Sarah Bennett, acclaimed film and TV producer Pablo Cruz, and KCRW’s Chery Glaser. They tried tacos from each of the nine taquerias except from Macheen, who sold out before the judges could sample their tacos. In the end, the judges selected an L.A. staple: Mariscos Jalisco.

Mariscos Jalisco owner Raul Ortega drinks a michelada out of his Best of Show trophy.
Los Angeles, CA - May 04:’s 10th Annual Taco Madness May 04, 2019. (Brian Feinzimer)

The online and live winners were crowned on stage by guest host Yarel Ramos. The winners each got trophies. Mariscos Jalisco owner Raul Ortega got his filled with a michelada from I Love Micheladas. Sonoratown owners Jennifer Feltham and Teodoro Diaz-Rodriguez got one filled with Jarritos.

Music was provided by Metralleta de Oro, Philthy Dronez, Que Madres, Sleepwalk, Azul, and Eazy Uno.

RELATED: A New Manifesto on Cinco de Mayo: Let Everyone Get Drunk ~ Then Start Reclaiming It

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