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.
You could say that the V in Venice stands for variety because that’s what you’ll find in this contentious neighborhood. From its established neighborhood characters to its controversial newcomers, there is a taco for everyone in this beach town that has become the poster child for unchecked gentrification. Start with al pastor shaved off a trompo, then have a fish taco that epitomizes living in West L.A.'s paradise, take a bite of a smoked tri-tip taco, and then try a taco dorado filled with juicy carne deshebrada from a family-owned-restaurant that has been around for decades. There are plenty of tacos for both locals and tourists to try.
Here’s an ideal taco crawl close to L.A.’s popular beach destination, from multi-million dollar restaurants to those just out there surviving in the streets.
In 1986, Madonna’s hit song, “La Isla Bonita,” hit the top of the Billboard Hot 100, and on the side, the Gonzalez family opened their brand new taco truck. It’s been parked on Rose Avenue since then and still serves Jalisco-style mariscos and tacos topped with fresh frijoles, a touch you’d have to return to parts of Mexico to experience again. Pro-tip, when you go, ask what’s on the menu today. There’s usually a different taco being cooked up every day.
The once-underdogs of Venice was a spot only real locals frequented. They now have a truck, have appeared on T.V., and are the favorites of locals who will proudly brag that they know the real spot for the best tacos. Most nights, they still set up with the typical street stand components, from a spinning trompo to a pan filled with meats. On other days, they’ll park their taco truck in front of the stand. But no matter the night, a plate of L.A.’s signature "street tacos" will be available for you here on Lincoln Blvd.
Just like the legendary burgers that Mario Curiel makes at Hinano in Venice, these tacos bear the same approach: simple, fresh, and correct. There are no reductions, emulsifications, rare ingredients, or gourmet shit, except for a conscious choice to use wild rockfish instead of farmed tilapia—just quality ingredients, the right portions, and flavors made fresh to order, and perfectly satisfying. Try a grilled calamari taco, beer-battered fish, or popcorn shrimp, all inspired by the taqueros love of Baja California.
Lupita’s Tacos pop up every Friday and Saturday evening at Palms and Lincoln Boulevard in Venice.
What’s more symbolic of a neighborhood’s struggle against gentrification than the sight of a spinning trompo in front of a Whole Foods on Lincoln? La Güera is not unique to Venice; there are more than a dozen stands all over Los Angeles, but no matter where you find these green polo-wearing taqueros, their flavorful al pastor, mesquite grilled asada, and stewed meats have made them a local favorite. Anywhere you see a taquero slicing meat from a trompo to a tortilla, the chances are that you’re guaranteed some decent tacos.
The man many people consider to be a pioneer in popularizing birria in Los Angeles has gone from selling out of the trunk of his car to having birria shops all over Los Angeles, including one steps from the heart of the boardwalk. Teddy’s Tijuana-style birria de res tacos are distinct from all other birrias for their red hue and balanced, rich flavor. The most popular deluxe plate gives you a taco, mulita, vampiro, quesadilla, and consomé.
For comfort in a tortilla, try the Cali-Mex BBQ joint by this Westside native. Thick smoked asada Tri-tip, pork chile verde, barbacoa, and pulled pork are just the first tacos on the menu. Decide on your protein and then pair it with the proper tortilla. Will you try buttery flour to hold your achiote salmon or a freshly made corn tortilla for their ajillo shrimp? Or skip the tacos together, and fill yourself with an all-day breakfast burrito with their house-made chorizo. There are no wrong choices here, only hard ones to make.
New experiences, new tacos, and new mezcales. Maybe that’s why this restaurant is called Nueva. Black bean falafel and Mediterranean octopus tacos are what you can expect when an Armenian and Mexican Chef team up to create something new. Tacos are all served on blue corn tortillas and uniquely garnished. You’ll find radish cucumber escabache on a mezcal glazed short rib or jicama aleppo slaw on crispy tempura sea bass. Backed by an extensive mezcal bar, this is the perfect spot to make a meet-up or date more interesting.
Located in the heart of Venice’s turbulent past, it could be easy to be skeptical of this modern cantina-like restaurant imitating a Veracruz-type vibe. With an Alta-California approach to Mexican Cuisine, the chefs behind Chulita bring traditional Mexican flavors to Masienda heirloom corn from farmers in Oaxaca. Chulita is also one of the unique kitchens to offer housemade Cassava flour tortillas. Chulita is a true Alta-California restaurant that takes its tortillas and the flavors on top of them very seriously.
If you need a palate cleanser from Abbott Kenny’s hyper-gentrified taste, go behind this street to find Tacos Por Favor, a taquería with everything on the menu, from pancakes and hamburgers to a trompo in the kitchen. You can find almost anything your munchies desire, especially tacos that hit the spot when you're in the mood for something spicy, filling, and full of flavor. For those who can’t wait for the taco stands to come out at night, Tacos Por Favor is there for your afternoon taco craving.
Fiesta Brava is fortunate to have barely survived the gentrification of Rose Avenue. It’s a humble Mexican restaurant forced to move from Rose, but lucky to have found a location only a few blocks away. The tacos aren’t its strong suit, except for their taco dorado de deshebrada. Many deshebrada tacos dorados are deep fried, but here they crisp the taco on the grill, treating it more like a taco dorado de barbacoa. But the meat is juicy, tender, and flavorful. The deshebrada is so good, that it makes you overlook the generic "Mexican three-cheese" blend and iceberg lettuce that adorn this taco. Trust us. It is a genuinely extraordinary accomplishment that makes you wish all hardshell tacos had juicy meat like this. (Looking at you, Tito’s Tacos).
You’re on the boardwalk, enjoying the fresh breeze from the ocean and the colorful characters along the oceanfront. Walk into this beachside dive bar to complete the experience. Grab a seat outside, order a beer, and soak in the view with a live street band performing a soulful rendition of Jimi Hendricks as the sun slowly moves toward the horizon. The tacos are just as pleasant as this experience. They don’t imitate your favorite tacos found on the street or pretend to match them. But they make their versions, sometimes changing them up, but always on a tortilla kissed by an oily griddle, and flavors that will go down nicely with a beer. It just comes to prove that in L.A., every experience has its taco.
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…