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Visiting L.A.? Here Are the Ten Tacos You Need to Try, Mapped

Tacos Y Birria La Unica ~ Quesatacos de birria (Beef or goat)

As many of us live our life in Los Angeles, enjoying its excellent tacos like no big deal and slowly coasting our way through the ever-increasing thumping red tributaries on our navigation apps, it can be hard to remember that our home is still a tourist paradise. Even during COVID, L.A. registered 22 million tourists last year.  

While many of those tourists are content having burgers at the Santa Monica Pier or settling for wings at Dave & Busters in Hollywood and Highland, one of the questions we get asked the most at L.A. TACO is: If we only had time for one or two essential tacos while in Los Angeles, where should we go? 

We meditate on this critical question a lot in our tiny newsroom, and last week, we finally compiled a list of TEN taquerías that we all can agree on. Ten because merely highlighting one or two doesn’t cut it. It doesn’t mean you have to eat all ten, but we will say it will help understand why people in Los Angeles are so passionate and prideful about their tacos if you get around to them. 

Just in time for a certain big super football game being hosted in Inglewood very soon, we welcome everyone to our fine city of tacos. Here is L.A. TACO’s must-eat list of tacos to enjoy while you are here.   

Evil Cooks. Photo by Erwin Recinos for L.A. TACO.
Evil Cooks. Photo by Erwin Recinos for L.A. TACO.
Evil Cooks. Photo by Erwin Recinos for L.A. TACO.

Evil Cooks 

For: The Three From Hell

461 N Eastern Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90032

Evil Cooks came on the scene with a heavy metal guitar solo, starting with one black trompo; now they’re up to three. The Three From Hell comes with three tacos from each trompo: beef, pork, and octopus. The protein for each respective trompo is rubbed with recado negro, a paste made from burning spices and chiles. Make sure to try their roquero dessert tacos. - Cesar Hernandez

Tacos Don Cuco. Photo by Cesar Hernandez for L.A. TACO.
Tacos Don Cuco. Photo by Cesar Hernandez for L.A. TACO.

Tacos Don Cuco

For: Adobada and Asada Vampiro

752 S Fetterly Ave, East Los Angeles, CA 90022

One of East L.A.’s best Tijuana-style tacos, and they serve adobada. They make the distinction that adobada and al pastor are entirely different. They outline that the difference is in the preparation of the pork and how it is cooked. At Don Cuco, the adobada is grilled over coals instead of on a trompo, which they believe to be the true method of adobada. The result is smoky, succulent pork that tastes different from al pastor. Try the vampiro with both adobada and asada, basically a crunchy and meaty tostada sandwich with melted cheese.  

–Cesar Hernandez

El Ruso

For: Asada taco on Flour Tortilla

3140 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026

El Ruso pairs excellent grilled asada with supple flour tortillas made in the Sonora style. The cashier will ask you if you want beans and cheese, and you do. A pile of cheese is placed on the plancha and covered with a flour tortilla, then scraped off, creating a cheese crust. Then goes the chopped asada and a scoop of beans. It’s a quintessential taco experience in L.A. that combines several Mexican regions in a flour tortilla. – Cesar Hernandez

Tacos at Macheen.
Tacos at Macheen. Photo from the L.A. TACO archives.
MACHEEN: Free Taco

Macheen

For: Hongos Al Pastor

Currently popping up at Milpa Grille, 2633 East Cesar E Chavez Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90033

Macheen is known for making otherworldly creative tacos. Like the hongos al pastor breakfast tacos that place mushrooms in adobo over fluffy scrambled eggs. The mushrooms are in a silky adobo that tastes of acidity and heat. This taco is my recent fascination but definitely try the entire menu; every taco has the same amount of love and care put into it. – Cesar Hernandez

Burritos La palma. Photo from the L.A. TACO archives.
Burritos La palma. Photo from the L.A. TACO archives.
Burritos La palma. Photo from the L.A. TACO archives.

Burritos La Palma

For: Burrito de birria de res, bean and cheese, chicharrón

2811 E Olympic Boulevard

Burritos La Palma specializes in petite, guisado-filled burritos in the style of Jerez, Zacatecas—on superlatively chewy, freshly pressed, handmade flour tortillas. These types of burritos remind you that yes, even a burrito is a type of taco. They are lightly toasted and crispy with the juicy, spiced filling inside the tortilla. Once you have these, it’s hard to go back to the gut bombs that you used to associate with burritos, so be forewarned. They are so good that they are even available frozen. - Javier Cabral

Photo from the L.A. TACO archives.
MJ. Photo from the L.A. TACO archives.

Mariscos Jalisco

For: Taco de Camarón. 

Multiple locations

Speaking from purely a gustatory standpoint, no other taco is as purely delicious to inhale as these; crispy, creamy, refreshing, and spicy all the same time. Whether you eat just a couple or five—it happens—this taco is timeless. – Javier Cabral

Tacos from Carnitas El Artista in Inglewood. Photo by Cesar Hernandez.
Tacos from Carnitas El Artista in Inglewood. Photo by Cesar Hernandez.
Tacos from Carnitas El Artista in Inglewood. Photo by Cesar Hernandez.

Carnitas El Artista

For: Carnitas Taco

510 N La Brea Ave, Inglewood, CA 90301

El Artista has succulent carnitas tacos with a recently opened taquería in Inglewood. They’re fully dressed with salsa, onions, and cilantro, along with pickled onions with habaneros. Make sure to add a bit of chicharron, and check to see if they have costillas available. – Cesar Hernandez

Tacos y Birria La Única

For: Chivo Taco Dorado

2840 E Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90023

Not many taqueros in L.A. offer tasty versions of birria de chivo and beef. They also offer handmade corn tortillas for all their tacos, a game-changer, and another rarity in L.A.’s cutthroat Birria Wars. Catch me swimming in their clavo-intensive consomé. – Javier Cabral

Burrito 2.0 from Sonoratown
Burrito 2.0 from Sonoratown. Photo by Cesar Hernandez for L.A. TACO.
Burrito 2.0 from Sonoratown. Photo by Cesar Hernandez for L.A. TACO.

Sonoratown

Burrito 2.0

208 E 8th St, Los Angeles, CA 90014

The burrito 2.0 has become my go-to order at Sonoratown but is also in the running for the best burrito in LA. This burrito shines because of its strong fundamentals, excellent grilled asada, buttery, fluffy flour tortillas, and frijoles. But the real hack at this taqueria is adding the option chile poblano, which adds an extra earthy and smokey chile flavor. – Cesar Hernandez

Taco Éspecial. Photo from the L.A. TACO archives.
Taco Éspecial. Photo from the L.A. TACO archives.

Los Originales Tacos Árabes de Puebla

For: Taco Árabe Especial

3600 E Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90023

As you might have guessed, tacos árabes are the specialty of this Boyle Heights lonchera. The especiales add stringy quesillo and slices of avocado to pan árabes filled with marinated pork. Even though the pork is shaved from a trompo, it is not al pastor. This recipe for protein is one of the Villegas family’s most guarded secrets, receiving offers of up to $15,000 to sell it. They didn’t, so their lonchera is the only place to find it. – Cesar Hernandez

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