L.A.’s 11 Best Places For Drinking Masa-Based Tejuino From a Range of Regions
A fermented, fizzy, corn masa beverage traditionally from Western Mexico and recognized for indigenous origins, tejuino packs a punch and delivers refreshing complexity with every sip. Here are L.A.'s best.
These are the best places to taste tejuino in Los Angeles.
Tejuino is a deceivingly simple drink made with just a few ingredients. A fermented, fizzy, corn masa beverage traditionally from Western Mexico and recognized for its indigenous origins, tejuino packs a punch and delivers refreshing complexity with every sip.
Every cup brims with taste and tradition, relying on the flavors of corn masa, cinnamon, piloncillo (raw cane sugar), salt, and limon. But do not be mistaken - not all tejuinos are made alike.
Regional differences (notably between the top contenders of the states of Jalisco, Colima, and Nayarit) set the flavor profile and give each tejuino on this list their own inimitable style. You’ll find some that are fermented much longer, offering the tangy sting that will test even the most devoted kombucha disciple. Others are simultaneously sour and sweet, deliciously addictive all around.
Make a mission out of it. Try a few and decide which is your own favorite.
One thing is for certain: this nectar of the gods was designed for scorching hot days and L.A.’s summer should have plenty of those to go around.
This family owned business in Lincoln Heights has been around for more than 15 years, offering top-quality, Colima-style tejuinos, in addition to their selection of raspados, fruit bowls, natural juices, and antojitos. Raspados Nayarit is owned by Rodrigo Carmona, who was quick to credit his wife, Maria, with the “sazon original” behind their success. Their tejuinos are light on the salt and heavy on the lime, with perfectly textured, crushed ice; undetectable, but cool to the tongue. Their dedication to quality shines through it all. Carmona stresses their insistence on excellent ingredients. They receive daily fruit deliveries to ensure customers only receive the very best. When it comes to their tejuinos, the masa is made fresh in-house and their process stays light on fermentation, for adults and little ones to enjoy alike.
With lines out the door as soon as L.A. sees its first blistering days of the season, it becomes immediately evident that Tejuinos Los Reyes is a favorite in Lincoln Heights. Putting one foot in the door is sufficient for detecting the smell of pepino permeating it small hallway, which faces a large display of traditional ice cream and gelatina (fruit flavored jello) lined up colorfully.
Among the flavors, you’ll find nuez, jamaica, mango, and limon, the latter heftily scooped on top of their tejuinos. You’ll find the tejuinos here are on the far end of the fermentation spectrum - expect a frothy concoction with sharp, pungent flavors and the slightest hint of toasted maiz.
2707 1/2 N. Broadway Los Angeles, CA 90031
Pull up to the corner of 4th and Breed Street in Boyle Heights and you’ll find a colorful display of colossal sized aguas frescas run by Esmeralda Carrillo. Raspados Mayahuel is aptly named after the Aztec goddess of maguey and pulque (another fermented Mexican drink of indigenous roots).
Carrillo has been dedicated to bringing refreshments to the residents of Boyle Heights every summer season for the last 13 years. You’ll spot her every Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 6:30pm between the months of April and October. The key to her tejuinos, she says, is the tangy addition of tamarind and coarse salt that add a bit of a bite to the delectable mush that is a tejuino. Oh, and a six-month fermentation process, of course.
If you’re looking to kill two birds with one stone, stop at Tejuino King. The business specializes in both tejuinos and birria tacos. The tejuinos here are Jalisco-style, but lighter on the fermentation. Every sip is refreshing, with a thicker, almost pulp-like consistency. Fear not, the cup still offers lime and salt to cool the palate on a hot summer day and comes with a neon scoop of lime sherbet. If you’re feeling really adventurous, you can order some of the more unorthodox items on the menu, including an Insta-famous birria ramen and birria nachos.
With quite possibly the longest standing history in Los Angeles, this tejuino stand dates back to the '80s and Downtown's beloved Placita Olvera. The stand was founded and later moved to its current location on the corner of Soto Street and Olympic Boulevard by owner Juan Cabral Sr. He carried expertise in tejuinos, having sold the traditional beverage in Guadalajara's famed Zapopan neighborhood in his youth. Continuing with his dad’s recipe and legacy, Juan Cabral Jr. has taken over the business with the help of his wife, Flor. Their tejuino recipes requires fresh, white corn masa from Lupita’s Tortilleria in Pico Union and bears a distinctive taste, courtesy of an undisclosed secret ingredient which is zealously guarded by the couple. To try it, you’ll have to track them down between 10am and 5pm. They bring their unique tejuino almost every day, year round.
Soto Street and Olympic Boulevard, Boyle Heights, CA
No need to trek all the way to East L.A. to enjoy the wondrous joys of tejuino on a hot day. Tejuinos Colima has South Gate covered. Juan Casillas, of Manzanillo, Colima, has been serving tejuinos at the same location for 26 years now, serving a traditional, Colima-style tejuino made with homemade masa and the typical ingredients: salt, lemon, piloncillo, and cinnamon. You’ll find his truck posted on Alameda Street and Tweedy Boulevard every Wednesday through Monday, between 9am and 6pm. Bionicos, raspados, and other Mexican delicacies are also available for all the antojados out there.
Irma Arellano and her husband run their Compton-based tejuino business out of a white Astro van big enough for a family of eight (I'm low-key triggered); their small kitchen on wheels is just big enough to prep fresh tejuinos for the community. The hustle is real. Like the name suggests, you’ll find Jalisco-style tejuinos, with a light touch on the fermentation (emphasis on the light). Arellano makes her own masa by hand, with her trusty molino on deck at home. Lime sherbet is available, but optional. Keeping in trend with the seasonal appeal, Tejuinos Jalisco operates during summertime between April and October, Friday through Monday on the corner of Rosecrans Avenue and Lime Avenue. Coincidence or marketing strategy?
Rosecrans Avenue and Lime Avenue, Compton, CA 90221
Another family affair in the heart of Compton, Don Tavo’s Tejuino has been around for ten years, serving some of the best tejuinos the city has to offer. Their business is run out of the front yard of their home by couple Gustavo Diaz and Guillermina Ochoa, with the help of their children and extended family members. This particular tejuino is fermented for three months, with a new batch made every day. “Everyone gets together to make the tejuino,” Gustavo Diaz Jr. says, “it’s a family business.”
4618 E. Rosecrans Ave. Compton, CA 90221 and 12698 S. Central Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90059
On a nondescript corner of Boyle Heights, Guatemala-born Iris Monroy posts up with her Jalisco-style tejuinos every day between 10am and 5:30pm. That is, if she doesn’t run out before then. I was lucky enough to get the very last of the batch on a sunny Saturday afternoon and the look of disappointment from one of her regular customers who showed up after me was heartbreaking. Monroy may not be from Jalisco, but she learned her tejuino ways from an OG Jaliciense upon her arrival to LA in 1996. She prepares one of the best tejuinos I’ve ever had. They’re fermented only for a few days with a secret ingredient she was kind enough to share with me, only after swearing me to secrecy. I can’t betray her confidence but I can urge you to run to the corner of Olympic and Rio Vista Avenue for a gratifying treat from this humble savant.
Corner of Olympic Blvd. and Rio Vista Ave. Boyle Heights, CA
Tequileros Tejuino Snack Bar is aptly named. If you’re looking for the booziest tasting tejuino in L.A., you've found it. Their main location is based out of Pico Rivera, with satellite street stalls operated by family and friends nearby and in Compton. Their version of a tejuino comes with one or two scoops (if requested) of the brightest lime sherbet you’ve ever seen.
Let it be said that Downey and SELA will not be left behind. Bionicos Zapopan sits in a small strip mall tucked between a liquor store and a smoke shop, with neon lights and bright decorations calling you in. Fairly new to the L.A. food scene, with just over two years in business, owner Eduardo Revelas thanks his mother, Maria Villegas, for passing on her knowledge of tejuinos and its traditional ingredients. Characteristically, their tejuino tastes of fresh limon verde and coarse sea salt. Revelas credits their high quality masa for thicker consistency and superior flavor, but will take the name of their supplier to his grave.
Ed Calderón—known as 'Ed's Manifesto'—has survived attempted 'hits' on him, witnessed kidnappings, the torture techniques of criminals, the execution of snitches, and even rescued a woman who was held captive by pirates for ten years. Still, he says Tijuana is safe to visit—it's just a matter of doing your research and having common sense.
TIJUANA WEEK is our attempt at fortifying the taco-laced bridge between Los Ángeles (the best in the country) and Tijuana (the best in Mexico). All of this week’s following stories were written by USC Annenberg’s students while in Tijuana.
At least five food trucks were robbed within a weeks span, according to Los Angeles police. During one robbery, a food truck employee was allegedly pistol whipped. Police say that the alleged robberies might be connected.
LAFC came close to winning it in 2020. A victory would have made them just the fourth Major League Soccer team to win the title, an honor shared by DC United (1998), LA Galaxy (2000), and Seattle Sounders (2022). LAFC fans were left wondering if the third time would be the charm…