Skip to Content
Taco Madness

And the Winner of Taco Madness 2021 Is Villa’s Tacos! Meet Your New Champion

It is officially underdog season: Villa's Tacos is the undisputed champion of L.A. TACO's 13th annual online TACO MADNESS tournament.

This round was perhaps the most cutthroat round in TACO MADNESS history, with Tacos Don Cuco and Villa's duking it out every day. Villa's built a large lead of over 100 votes early in the round and kept that healthy distance over Cuco until the weekend. Cuco chipped away and stayed within striking distance and refused to give up, pulling the influencing power of paisa influencers such as Chuy Patabionica to come in and help sway the vote. And it worked, on Sunday, the two taqueros were head to head.

But as Monday's sun rose, Villa's sheer determination to win pulled ahead yet again. And when the clock striked midnight, Villa's Tacos pulled perhaps the biggest upset of all time. They rose above taco powerhouses such as El Ruso and even past prior champions such as Mariscos Jalisco and Macheen.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by L.A. TACO 🌴🌮 (@lataco)

At midnight, the crew bumped Queen's 'We Are the Champions' and it was a done deal. They won it all.

Since L.A. TACO is still observing COVID precautions and we will not be doing our annual taco event, we will be presenting our TACO Champions their hard-earned trophy along with another surprise this Friday at 6 PM. Join us on Instagram as we will go live to document the festivities.


[dropcap size=big]T[/dropcap]hey don't call it TACO MADNESS for nothing.

What a time to be alive. At approximately 11:59 PM the following Monday, we will all witness the crowning of a new TACO MADNESS champion.

In a stunning upset, past champions Sonoratown fell to the East Los Angeles TJ-style taco mavens, Tacos Don Cuco. In the second matchup, not even all the taco power in the Valley combined was enough to carry Tacos El Venado to knocking out the NELA phenom, Villa's Tacos.

Now, in this final round. It is Tijuana-style via East L.A. Vs. Seven-Layer-Taco via Highland Park.

Only one taquería will earn the coveted L.A. TACO TACO MADNESS Championship trophy and earn a spot in the few, the proud, the circle of MADNESS champions.

As people have been saying in the comments section: It's underdog season.

Join us today at 6 PM on L.A. TACO's Instagram account where we will be hosting a TACO-WEIGH IN event with our Director of Partnerships, Memo Torres, and the two finalist taquerías.

The polls for the final round of TACO MADNESS are now open. This is your final chance to support your favorite taquero hasta la muerte... View results without voting here.


[dropcap size=big]T[/dropcap]he third round of Taco Madness was absolutely brutal.

Round three saw some of the most intense duels that Taco Madness has ever seen. Every single taquería was neck and neck throughout against their rival for the entire week. Some pulled ahead by just a handful of votes in literally the final seconds before the round closed. You know that exhilarating feeling when you even forget to breathe because you're so into a finals or postseason game as it's about to go into overtime or extra innings? This was that—but with tortillas and carnita asada instead of basketballs and baseball bats.

First off, Tacos y Que has earned the respect of L.A.'s Taco Life. Their campaign full of taco barrio warfare such as hosting a taco party in East Los Angeles, the territory of their rivals Tacos Don Cuco, was a study in guerrilla tactics. Ultimately Tacos y Que fell to the East L.A. taco veteranos Tacos Don Cuco and their three locations which each put in work in voter outreach. However, L.A. TACO would like to congratulate them for making it this far, which is no easy feat for such a new taquería. Their hustle was inspiring.

The next battle saw last year's hard-fought champion Macheen fall to past Madness champions, Sonoratown. At one point yesterday, both were separated by just a few votes. However, as the sun sank and the new taco moon rose, Sonoratown got to work and delivered the rolled-up flour tortilla dagger via dozens of votes to create a safe margin of victory.

The third battle was one of the bloodiest yet with Highland Park's taco golden boy Victor Villa of Villa's Tacos refusing to go down. Angel's Tijuana Tacos, which has a stand about a mile away from Villa's, made one final rush towards the end of the night. Right before the round closed, Angel's Tijuana Tacos were about 50 votes away from tying it up and maybe completing the biggest upset of the night against Villa's. But in the end, Villa's said "nah" and stayed in control to win the round.

Same with Ave 26 Tacos, which made one final maniaco-type late-night dash towards the finish line against The Valley's lone wolf, Tacos El Venado. But alas, the power of the San Fernando Valley was too much for Ave 26's $1.25-taco-loving fans to handle.

Taco Life followers, behold the Final Four taquerías left.

Tacos Don Cuco Vs. Sonoratown

Villa's Tacos Vs. Tacos El Venado

We know you are fatigued but if all those days of being on your feet in the weeds taught you anything, it's that when the going gets tough...the tacos taste even better. You made it this far. It's time to rally your taquero troops one more time and bring the trophy home.

Best of luck to everyone still left and see you all in them streets.


[dropcap size=big]T[/dropcap]he second "Savory 16" round of Taco Madness saw the greats fall.

El Ruso is OUT. Leo's Tacos is OUT. Teddy's Red Tacos is OUT. Mariscos Jalisco is OUT. Guerrilla Tacos is OUT. Los Dorados L.A. is OUT. Burritos La Palma is OUT.

Will the champion of Taco Madness 2021 be a Youngblood? Will it be social media mavens behind Tacos y Que in Whittier, where the foos are cuter? Will it the charismatic and passionate taquero behind Villas Tacos as he holds it down in quickly gentrifying Highland Park?

Not if Sonoratown or Macheen has anything to do with it.  The flour tortilla stalwart of downtown L.A. and Alta California taquero have the champion spirits within them as past winners of Taco Madness, so all eyes will be on them in this critical third round as they face off. There can only be one winner in their seed, who will it be?

On the other corner, we have the old-school taqueros honing their perpetually sharp trompo knives as they prepare for another seven days of grueling voting battles. You can bet that the loyal fans who wait in line to stuff their face with Angel's Tijuana Tacos, El Venado, and Ave 26 Tacos will not go down without a fight.

No one said TACO MADNESS was going to be easy but it's too late to turn back now.

The third SabrOcho round is now open for voting. It's time yet again to rally the tortilla troops and defend your taquería until the better end.

Best of luck to all taqueros and taqueras left standing after the intense past two weeks of voting, and brace yourself because the true taco war is yet to come.


[dropcap size=big]T[/dropcap]hat was one hell of a first round.  

We know that wasn't fair, to make you pick between corn or flour tortillas, between juicy carne asada to mariscos. But no one ever said it was going to be easy.

The road to becoming L.A.'s TACO MADNESS 2021 Champion is paved with broken hearts and bruised egos, and only the strongest tortillas survive.

In this grueling first round, we saw past "best in show" champions kick rocks. We saw tried and true amazing-tasting tacos fall to the city's taco young bloods who came out swinging and are ready to rattle the taco institutions. But if you think that was hard, just wait until this second "Savory 16" round.

It's hypebeasts vs. loyal followers, it's the wall of death but with taco-starved fanatics. It's TACO MADNESS.

The second round is now open.

The round will close at 11:59 PM on Monday, April 19th.

It's time to defend your taquero and taquera until the bitter—like when you accidentally bite into a lime seed bitter-bitter—end.


[dropcap size=big]I[/dropcap]n Los Angeles, the pandemic is ending, and our tacos are rising. The one constant in this city will forever be charred meat, tortillas, and salsa, and no virus or amount of development will ever change this. 

In 2021, our tacoscape is the most robust it’s ever been. 

Taquerías, whether street stand or brick and mortar, are L.A.’s original take-out food. In a dire year that saw the untimely shuttering of so many businesses across the city, taqueros and taqueras used their tortilla ingenuity to push themselves ahead. Many taco shops reported spikes in sales and some street vendors, against all odds, even opened brick and mortar shops. Many who lost their jobs in other industries that took a significant hit took to tortillas to get by.    

This year’s 32-seed taco tournament is a culmination of it all. It marks our 13th annual no-holds-barred L.A. taco knife fight. It’s old school versus new school; street versus brick and mortar; asada versus birria; flour tortillas versus corn tortillas; it is a tortilla rumble of L.A’s best and brightest taqueros and taqueras in L.A.’s first and only online publication that celebrates the Taco Lifestyle.

This year, all eyes will be on L.A.’s Powerhouse Three: El Ruso, Mariscos Jalisco, and Sonoratown. Their iconic tacos will fight with everything they’ve got against the rest of the bracket’s valiant taco contenders. That is, once they all try to get through last year’s champion, Jonathan Perez of Macheen, whom we all know will go down swinging in demi-glace glory. This year, Gracias Señor, the hard-working lone wolf out in the Pacific Palisades, will enter the tournament. 

The overnight hypebeasts Tacos Y Que will also bring their new legion of Whittier followers to back them up. It will be a battle of empires as the multiple locations of La Güera duke it out with Angel’s Tijuana Tacos’ small army. Ave 26 Tacos is also a new contender, with their cult following for their street taquería turned street food extravaganza in Lincoln Heights. The battle for carnitas will also be fierce, pitting Hollywood’s FLACO versus Hawthorne’s Carnitas El Artista. Fancy-taco-wise, it’s going to be L.A. versus CDMX, via Guerrilla Tacos going tortilla to tortilla with Ditroit. And who’s that entering the ring? It’s Anajak Thai with a steel chair! Their weekly taco pop-up in the Valley has grown a cult following for their spicy fish sauce salsas and carnitas, made with the “Gucci of pork.”   

It's every taco for their damn self. 

The polls are now open, and the bragging rights for L.A’s favorite taco in 2021 are now up for grabs.

Who will win? Stay tuned, and make sure to check in every week to see who advances.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from L.A. TACO

This Peruvian Street-Style Fried Chicken Inside a 30-Year-Old Taquería Is the Valley’s Best-Kept Secret

“I'm very proud of bringing our food, Peruvian food, and the acceptance from our Mexican brothers,” says chef Omar Zavala, who is from Peru and took over Taqueria Juanito's with his wife, Carmen, five years ago.

May 22, 2024

New In the L.A. TACO Shop

We've restocked some of your favorite items and added some great new ones. If you can't become a member, buying our merchandise is also a great way to support our inclusive street-level journalism! All of our t-shirts are hand-printed in Los Angeles.

May 21, 2024

Open Thread: What Is L.A.-Style Food?

What is L.A. food to you? Which cuisines, restaurants, or chefs have defined our city's uniquely good eats? Tell us your thoughts.

Money Has Run Out for Fruits and Vegetables for Low-Income Californians. Elected Leaders Are Silent.

The fresh food rebate pilot program delivered on its promises, but politicians won’t promise to put it in the budget.

May 20, 2024

Protester Whose Testicle Exploded After LAPD Officer Shot Him with ‘Less Lethal’ Firearm Receives $1.5 Million Settlement

Benjamin Montemayor had been protesting on Hollywood Boulevard for several hours on June 2, 2020, when at least 50 police officers descended upon his group and began firing munitions at the crowd, according to his civil rights lawsuit filed in Los Angeles federal court.

May 17, 2024
See all posts