Skip to Content
L.A. Taco Guides

The Seven Best Tacos in El Monte

After our taco renaissance of 2020, | dare say El Monte's Five Points intersection rivaled any taco row in East L.A. or South Central. Don't get mad, foo, you weren't there.

10:59 AM PDT on May 16, 2023

L.A. TACO is embarking on its biggest mission yet: to create a reliable taco and food guide for every 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 makes our fine city unique. Check out the rest of our history and food guides on our neighborhood page

Surprisingly few people know that El Monte is a big suburb of 115,000 people. Despite being a majority-Latino and a working class town, it hardly gets the respect it deserves when it comes to tacos. 

We had a taco renaissance of sorts in 2020 in El Monte. I dare say the Five Points intersection, between Valley and Garvey, rivaled any taco row in East L.A. or South Central during the height of the pandemic (don’t get mad, foo, you weren’t there). There were vendors who sold churros, regional Mexican snacks, and other miscellaneous trinkets to pandemic-crazed raza. In many ways, it was one of the only forms of socialization in mid-2020. 

But before I could try them all, many disappeared like the girl in 7th grade summer camp I never had the guts to talk to, after the city’s code enforcement began to crack down on street vendors, with at least one encounter turning violent

Not to sound all creido, but I know what I’m talking about when it comes to tacos. Over the years, I’ve eaten tacos or burritos at 35-40 different places in town. I’m that guy. The “Eyy foo, let me know where to find a good taco spot” kind of guy.

As a lifelong Montero, I’m writing this with the knowledge that I’ll likely be crucified for leaving out some random Montero’s favorite mom n’ pop joint. And they might be right.

So with all the preamble out of the way, here are my top seven taco spots in El Monte.

Ixtaco

This 4:20-themed, dog-friendly taqueria has one of the most eclectic menus I’ve seen anywhere. Aside from the traditional taqueria meats, you can get tacos with calamari, lobster, duck, Korean BBQ, and scallops, as well as several veggie options. They even have “Dog Friendly Tacos” for firulais (including fish tacos, and tacos with ground turkey, potatoes, and carrots). Their aguas frescas are just as creative, with a revolving menu that changes from traditional to drinks like purple horchata or mango-and-CBD.  

10021 Valley Blvd. El Monte, CA 91731. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Lines 76 or 267 - “Valley/Baldwin.”

Tacos Del Chino

Not to be confused with the other Tacos Del Chino that may pop up on Yelp, Tacos Del Chino on Durfee Ave. has little-to-no social media footprint. But if you ask locals, this place doesn’t need slickly edited videos to prove itself worthy of being called one of El Monte’s best tacos. Although I’ve had good buche and cabeza, the asada and tripas are really the correct call here. 

2600 Durfee Ave. El Monte, CA 91732. Closest transit lines and stop: Foothill Transit Lines 194 and 282 - “Valley/Durfee.”

Karina’s Tacos

Nestled in the drab South El Monte factory district and lacking the eye-catching, self-promoting wrap that the modern-day taco truck exterior usually must have, Karina’s has a strong batting order from top to bottom. But undoubtedly, Karina's clean-up hitter is the tripas taco. Just make sure to order them bien doraditas

2025 Durfee Ave. South El Monte, CA 91733. Closest Metro line and stop: Bus Line 287 - “Tyler/Rush.”

Xecora

Xecora has a lot to offer. It's a place to find delightfully creative, Huichol-inspired cuisine. With a tastefully-decorated setting for a casual afternoon date. It's got thoughtfully crafted cocktails and aguas frescas. My go-to dish has always been the red ceviche Sinaloense. But regardless of my order, I must have two marlin tacos gobernador on the side. In my experience–locally and in Baja California Norte–marlin tacos are typically a hit-or-miss order. At Xecora, this perfectly-rationed nugget of joy is the perfect shareable item while you sip on your Tayau cocktail (smoked pineapple, mezcal, habanero) as you wait for a plate of charbroiled octopus or lilikoi ceviche. 

11583 Lower Azusa Rd. El Monte, CA 91732. Closest Metro line and stop: Bus Lines 268 or 287 - “Santa Anita/Lower Azusa.”

Los Palomos

In 2021, Los Palomos was at the center of the aforementioned crackdown on street vendors, when two of their employees were arrested following a viral scuffle on the Valley Blvd. sidewalk with police. They relocated their sizzling trompo of al pastor and perfectly-textured, handmade tortillas a few times, despite large barriers being places in different locations across Five Points. It’s unclear whether they've obliged to the city’s code enforcement, but they’re still at Five Points. Lose the battle, win the war. 

11907 Valley Blvd. El Monte, CA 91732. Closest transit lines and stop: Foothill Transit Lines 178 and 194 - “Valley/Mountain View” or Foothill Transit Lines 282 and 486 - "Garvey/Valley."

Angel’s Tijuana Tacos

When I was thinking up a list of the best tacos in El Monte, I wanted to avoid places with several LA-area locations and highlight places exclusive to El Monte. But the consistent quality of Angel’s Tijuana Tacos makes this relative newcomer to the El Monte taco scene too good to pass up. There simply isn’t a better al pastor taco in town. 

Side note: After months of relocating from sidewalk to sidewalk, their new truck is now permanently located at the intersection of Peck Rd. 

2800 Peck Rd. El Monte, CA 91732. Closest Metro line and stop: Bus Line 287 - “Tyler/Garvey.”

Birrieria Calvillo Aguascalientes

Any respectable list of tacos must include a good birria taco. This estilo Aguascalientes mom n’ pop shop serves excellent birria de res and chivo. This isn’t the type of place that serves Hot Cheeto-stuffed quesatacos or whatever taco trend you see on your Instagram Reels these days. They offer friendly service, a damn good taco and a flavorful Aguascalientes-style consome spicy enough to scare your hangover away. 

12056 E. Valley Blvd. El Monte, CA 91732. Closest transit lines and stop: Foothill Transit Lines 178, 194, 282, and 486 - “Valley/Garvey.”

Frank Reyes is a Mexican-American elementary school teacher from El Monte, CA. When not teaching, walking his scruffy mutts or playing futbol, he can be found at any LA Galaxy home game. 

Already a user?Log in

Thanks for reading!

Register to continue

Become a Member

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from L.A. TACO

The Last Remaining Ramone Performed In Echo Park Last Night

Marky Ramone’s Blitzkrieg started their hour-long set with “Do You Wanna Dance” and ebbed and flowed through classics from the early-to-middle Ramones era, including their later hits, such as “R.A.M.O.N.E.S.” and even an extremely heartfelt rendition of Joey Ramone’s masterpiece, “What a Wonderful World.”

February 23, 2024

What To Eat This Weekend: Mexican Chocolate Kava, New Khachapuri, and Quentin Tarantino’s Coffee Shop

Plus a non-alcoholic bottle shop, fries covered with fried jalapenos, and a pork belly-and-kim chi pizza from two major Downtown chefs.

February 23, 2024

The 13 Best Tacos In Downtown Los Angeles

From crispy yellowfin flautas to mesquite-grilled costilla (rib) asada tacos, downtown Los Angeles is one of the city's most taco-stacked neighborhoods. Whether you're driving by, bar crawling, or taking public transit through it, here are the best tacos found in all corners of DTLA.

February 22, 2024

Justice 8 Supporters Feel Defeat At Latest Ruling. Enamorado Reported to Be Bleeding While Jailed

Enamorado's attorney alleges, "He is not getting the treatment he deserves for what is a valid medical reason.” Nonetheless, the supporters for The Justice 8 are bracing themselves to keep fighting.

February 20, 2024

West Hollywood’s Outdoor ‘Consumption Lounge’ Is a One-Of-Its-Kind Sneak Peek Into the Future of Dispensaries

Come take a look as the L.A. TACO team tours and enjoys a private tree-house cabana at The Woods dispensary, the only consumption lounge of its kind in L.A. County. It was a great day of "work" we'll never forget.

February 20, 2024
See all posts