This year, Los Angeles is hungry for another round of grilled, seared, stewed, fried and steamed tacos. With the city’s addition of Sonoran carne asada, flour tortillas, Mazatlán-style chorreadas and a healthy blend of newcomers representing the deepest traditions, time-honored taco slingers and new school practitioners are having more culinary success than ever.
Our veteran stands and national celebrity taqueros continue to get better and better, but it’s the taco futures market that continues to redefine street food in Los Angeles. Around every corner lies the scent of am urban hunter’s prize, cloaked in the billowing fumes of mesquite grills, comales and steam tables set in backyards, outlaw stands and loncheras. To all you disciples of the taco life, here are ten of the best new tacos, old and new, worthy of your next taco crawl.
10. Chivichanga at Sonoratown
Sonorans do amazing things with burritos (the regional style of tacos found in northern Mexico made with flour tortillas), serving up their fare in tasty flour tortillas. The carne tacos at Sonoratown are delicious but the chivichanga, a lightly fried burrito filled with meat cooked in peppers, onions and tomatoes, is northern Mexican comfort food at its best.
208 E 8th St., Downtown, (213) 290-5184, sonoratownla.com
9. Taco Gobernador at Mariscos El Chango
After having a really delicious taco gobernador at a 2-month-old food truck in South Central, they vanished, along with their handmade corn tortillas filled with shrimp, vegetables and melted cheese. As it turns out, it’s even worse than disappearing: they just opened a brick and mortar... in Riverside. Still, these are more than worth the drive.
2646 E Alessandro Blvd, Riverside, CA
8. Taco de huitlacoche at Huitlacoche Truck
Who would name a food truck after a pathogenic fungus: Ustilago maydis? Well, it turns out you can get away with such things in Los Angeles, the largest Mexican city in the U.S. Their huitlacoche taco is remarkable in that it’s the only place you can really taste this earthy Mexican delicacy in all its glory, because every single other place in town gets it from a can or a jar.
Instagram: @Huitlacoche_food truck
7. Tacos de Canasta at Rosario’s
Rosario Rios makes the best steamed tacos, around filled with fatty, refried beans, tangy pork rinds or potatoes flavored with a bit of pork chorizo. She takes extra care in preparing the freshest condiments and a side of pickled vegetables, a traditional pairing with these steamed breakfast tacos.
Southeast corner of Lorena St and Opal St., Boyle Heights. Open Saturdays and Sundays only, 323-247-5737
6. Beef taco at Loqui
Culver City pretty much ruined everything by forcing partners Ari Ampudia and Cameron Wallace to ditch the mesquite grill at Loqui (people were complaining about the smoke). Still, their juicy stewed beef makes a statement of its own on handmade flour tortillas mixed with a scoop of beans, salsa and guacamole that’s a dead ringer for Rosarito’s El Yaqui. Get a glass of Baja wine with Loqui’s beef taco for a street food pairing that’s purely an L.A. aesthetic.
8830 Washington Blvd Ste 104, Culver City, eatloqui.com
5. Taco de Tikin Xik estilo Playa Lancheros at Holbox
The new Yucatán style seafood stand at the Mercado La Paloma by Chichen Itza will be serving barbecued whole fish, Playa Lancheros-style in a pre-Hispanic marinade called tikin xic. Before even hearing about Holbox, Gilberto Cetina Jr. cooked up a 5-pound fish that was heavenly, and you can get the current version as a plate with tortillas on the side from Chichen Itza. Get ready to for tacos de tikin xic in 2017 at Holbox.
3655 S Grand Ave, Historic South Central, Los Angeles, CA
4. Duck heart taco at Guerrilla Tacos
Chef Wes Avila earned a spot on this list with an amazingly savory duck heart taco, dripping with rich, juicy flavors of offal, that posted up on the menu a few months back. Avila drives folks nuts with the tempting menus he posts on his Instagram page — especially if you can’t make it that day for a visit — but this one warrants a special trip.
3. Taco de Discada at The Briks
Every Thursday night, chef Mario Christerna fires up his disc and makes Monterrey-inspired tacos de discada, a fry of vegetables, hot dog, bacon, ground beef and pork, beer and tequila that’s reduced to a meat sauce. This taco has huge, meaty flavors that blend into the corn tortilla like a great Bolognese sauce clings to pasta.
1111 S Hope St. Ste 110, Downtown, (213) 746-7766, thebriks.com
2. Flautas de barbacoa at D.F. Tamales
Rialto’s temple to chilango comfort food specializes in all things fried, like their flautas de barbacoa, long flute-like corn tortillas filled with lamb barbacoa dressed with lettuce, onions, cream and dry cheese. They’re as good as you’ll find in Mexico City’s markets and stands on the weekends, full of crunch and tender, succulent lamb.
943 W Foothill Blvd., Rialto, (951) 521-3094
1. Tacos de Cabeza at Tacos El Palomas
The tacos de cabeza at this Compton stand have changed the game in Los Angeles. You can only get them on Sundays, where a mob of Sinaloans, especially those from Mazatlán, show up with their friends and families starting a 8:30 a.m. for flavorful, steamed beef head: cheeks, head, tongue, as well as other facial parts served on corn tortillas. For a taste of Sinaloa never before seen in L.A., you’ll have to navigate a forensic social media trail to find them. Suerte!