Translated from Spanish to English on most menus as simply “guts,” tripas is the small beef intestine. Not to be confused with tripe, which is the often gummier offal that makes up menudo. To Recinos’ point, the process that goes into preparing and properly cleaning tripas can say a lot about a restaurant. Rush it and its notorious musk will be extremely pronounced. However, take your time to properly clean and break them down, and its deeply tasting flavors can be downright glorious.
If the Taco Life was a video game, tripas would be the final boss. Once you defeat it and add it to your taco-eating arsenal, you will be fearless and truly unstoppable in your pursuit of the best tacos.
All of this leaves us to ponder the question: Which restaurants and locheras have what it takes to be the crispiest and not to mention, the most flavorful? We did all the chewing and fuchi-face for you to find the best and crispiest tripitas in Los Angeles and Orange County.
Long Beach’s own El Sauz, located on Anaheim Boulevard in Cambodia Town serves up the crispiest tripas found on this side of the 405. The super-thin, ribbon-like-cuts of meat are deep-fried into a crisp. The final tripa product is akin to the wonton strips you’d find in Chinese chicken salad. It’s all about the texture with this taco with its satisfying crunch as you bite into it. It’s easy to see why Long Beach locals in the know flock here for both its restaurant (pre-quarantine) to its late-night walk-up window to consume its wondrous offal offerings.
1616 E Anaheim St, Long Beach, CA 90813
La Carreta Taqueria
We can’t take full credit for this one. The Goldster himself covered this SELA taquería a few times throughout his career and it’s easy to see why. However, it’s unclear if he ever got to try what might be one of the more innovative entries of this tripas trail, the “Doradita.” Occupying the nebulous space between a taco and tostada, and those personal pan Book-It pizzas that you’d get from Pizza Hut when you were a kid. The Doradita is made with plancha- fried corn tortilla, piled high with a significant amount of tripas, then topped with a wonderful smattering of Monterey jack cheese along with salsa de aguacate, and sour cream dressing. The whole thing might be enough to convince even your tripa-averse friends and loved ones to join you as you both tripa the town.
1471 E. Vernon Ave., Los Angeles
Another outlier in big bad O.C. Chef Rolando Rubalcava has already won us over with his Mexican-inspired take on the Nashville inspired Mexican Hot Chicken Sandwich. It has nopal in it! One has to wonder what alchemy he possessed while coming up with this next effort: a tripa taco using a similar fiery spice oll that permeates every nook of tripa. Topped with a contrasting slaw meets escabeche, containing equal parts of sweet dill pickle slivers and spears of nopal, and bits of dressed onion. All of which seem to dance together on top of the taco to some cumbia rebajadas. While it might be easy to dismiss something like a Nashville-style tripas taco as a gimmick, we owe it to our taco-obsessed selves to do the work to develop our collective understanding. We will no doubt be better as a taco society for it.
2235 W Lincoln Ave, Anaheim, CA 92801
For true CDMX-style tripas, by the way of Cuernavaca, we are in the O.C. again. As Tio Gustavo has reminded us time and time again, the pink truck located off Main street in downtown Santa Ana provides its customers with some of the best regional style food that Southern California has to offer and the tripas are no exception. Upon arrival, the taco itself resembles something like a post-modern architectural structure piled with thick-cut nopales and large chunks of cebolla covering the contents of the tacos. The tripa offer the best of both world with a medium griddled crisp on the outside and some chewiness on the inside, making one of the interesting textures feature on this list.
Cubbon Street And South Main St. Santa Ana, CA 92707
What kind of taco lifestyle website would be if we didn’t acknowledge one of the best taqueros in Los Angeles? Not a very good one. Walter Soto’s Tijuana-meets-Sinaloa take on the tripa taco. The tripa meat is the star of the show, with its unique texture that’s cooked to perfection with both a soft chew inside and outer crispy edges. The flavors of the meat pairs with the saltiness of the added pinto beans which has become a signature of sorts of the El Ruso crew, along with a costra of griddled cheese. A specialty taco only offered once in a while during Monday through Thursday. It also features the freshly made soft and sweet corn tortilla. Topped with their signature bright red salsa, salsa aguacate, and pickled red onions, the bright hues of each of the condiments seem to glow like a glorious work of art, maybe simply because it is.
1401 Mirasol St, Los Angeles, CA 90023
Santa Cecilia Restaurant
Nestled in a corner of Mariachi Plaza with hand-painted signage sits this unassuming storefront that may hold L.A.’s best taco de tripas. Why? Because the tripas themselves, when requested “extra crispy” are nothing short of a revelation. Imagine if a piece of jaggedly crispy chicharrón got the Flamin’ Hot treatment, seasoned magnificently—with the haunting flavor of tripa as the backbone. This study in savoriness is underscored by a soft, warm, handmade white corn tortilla, a rarity in the tripa taco game. We are still thinking about days later. Shout out to L.A. Taco reader Angel Peralta for tipping us off about this spot for years.
1707 Mariachi Plz De Los, Los Angeles, CA 90033
Another heavy hitter in the L.A. taco universe. They get bonus points for including tripas in their small mesquite-grill driven menu since the beginning of their tenure as one of L.A.’s best taco establishments. That smoke does wonders on tripas and makes it stand out from the rest by a lot. Of course, the substantial meaty bite is wrapped with Sonoratown’s signature flour tortilla for that extra bit of textural satisfaction. If you’re down, ask for cheese added to your taco to create an extra layer of butteriness. Wash it down with a large horchata de coco and revel in the sense of jubilant elation that will follow. Life is but a bowl of tripitas, after all.
208 E 8th St, Los Angeles, CA 90014