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Al pastor tacos from Tacos Los Palomos.
Tacos Los Palomos.
Matthew Kang

38 Essential Tacos to Try in Los Angeles

LA has the breadth, depth, and specialization as America’s best taco scene

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Tacos Los Palomos.
| Matthew Kang

The taco scene in Los Angeles is as vibrant today as it has ever been, thanks to a new crop of Instagram-ready street stars and the usual collection of dedicated classics sprinkled throughout the city. From birria stands with thousands of followers to hidden South LA spots only for those in the know, Los Angeles (considered by some to be the “second-largest” Mexican city in the world) is rife with amazing vendors doing what they love, and serving their communities precisely where they’re at. Here now, is a list of the 38 essential taco spots in greater Los Angeles.

Note: Many places are street vendors or temporary setups, so be sure to note the hours and locations on social media before visiting.

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Eater maps are curated by editors and aim to reflect a diversity of neighborhoods, cuisines, and prices. Learn more about our editorial process.

Tacos Los Palomos

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The story of Mexico City-style al pastor has been written by a small group of indigenous Mihe entrepreneurs from Oaxaca like Fermin Martinez, whose trompos stretch from the San Fernando Valley, to San Bernardino County, to Torrance. Multiple locations serve tender al pastor in a sweet adobo that’s best enjoyed in a plate of tacos, gringas, with melted cheese inside a flour tortillas, or alambres — a stirfry of cheese, peppers, onions, ham, and al pastor that comes with a stack of corn tortillas.

Al pastor tacos from Tacos Los Palomos.
Al pastor tacos from Tacos Los Palomos
Matthew Kang

Teddy’s Red Tacos Venice

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Teddy Vasquez is making good on his dream to put a delicious taco into as many LA hands as possible. His outlet in Venice sits just by the beach in a prime location, and serves up the same delicious birria de res, or simmered beef, tacos with signature bright red consomme as his Slauson truck original.

teddys red tacos
Teddy’s Red Tacos
[Official Photo]

Barbacoa Estilo Atotonilco El Grande

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For barbacoyero Gonzalo Ramírez, there’s only one way to make barbacoa, the recipe he learned from his grandfather in Atotonilco El Grande, Hidalgo. Ramírez raises his own lambs, butchers them, roasts large lamb cuts in a cylindrical pit wrapped in maguey spines, and then serves smoky, tender lamb barbacoa tacos across from the DMV in Arleta on Sunday mornings only. Order a mix of barbacoa; well-herbed, stewed moronga (blood sausage); and pancita (offal stuffed stomach), and Ramírez’s earthy consomé, a stock made from the lamb drippings that taste like the smoldering essence of the pit.

The Ramirez family at their barbacoa stand in Arleta, California
The Ramirez family at their barbacoa stand in Arleta, California.
Wonho Frank Lee

Leo's Tacos Truck

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Al pastor’s second wave was ushered in by the Oaxacan brothers behind a Mexico City-style food truck strategically placed on Venice and La Brea, within striking distance of a crossover audience. The blogs were soon filled with tales of mercenary taqueros and massive crimson mounds of sweet marinated pork, symmetrically trimmed off of vertical spits finished with the spectacle of flying chunks of pineapple snagged with Ozzie Smith-like precision onto a tortilla. Leo’s now has a fleet of trucks spreading the gospel of traditional al pastor to all Angelenos. 

Leo’s Tacos Truck
Leo’s Tacos Truck
Cathy Chaplin

Coni'Seafood

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Connie Cossio’s Nayarit-style seafood mecca is known for tacos de marlin, yet, the pescado zarandeado tacos have always been the showstopper at its two locations, where grilled, plump snook imported from Mexico are always cooked to perfection. Grab a corn tortilla, tear slippery chunks of fatty, marinated flesh from the whole, butterflied fish, then add the house dressing of purple onions pickled in lime and Worcestershire sauce. The result is a blackened fish taco that melts in your mouth. Paired with an icy michelada, and you’re transported to a balmy, beach escape to San Blas, Mexcaltitán, or Playa Novillero.

Pescado zarandeado at Coni’Seafood
Coni’Seafood’s pescado zarandeado.
Matthew Kang

Gish Bac

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Maria Ramos is a third-generation Oaxacan barbacoa master with deep roots in the Mercado de Tlacolula in Oaxaca. Her barbacoa enchilada, or pit-roasted lamb in a chile-based marinade, is a smoky, spicy taste of pre-Hispanic tacos de barbacoa. In a city full of Oaxacan restaurants, Gish Bac is the best restaurant in its class for its esteemed barbacoa and traditional Oaxacan cookery. 

Gish Bac dish
Barbacoa enchilada from Gish Bac
Matthew Kang

Tacos El Tamix

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Another Oaxacan owner, Rolando Martinez, employs the same strategy as Leo’s, a badass marinade and veteran al pastor taqueros recruited from Mexico’s street food institutions to make his al pastor. The alambres, a hash of sautéed al pastor, peppers, onions, bacon, and Oaxacan cheese are a DIY taco party, and on any given night, Tamix might be the best in LA for their al pastor, too.  

Tacos Tamix
Matthew Kang

La Flor De Yucatan

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LA doesn’t have many restaurants representing the Yucatán peninsula, but the Burgos family has been delivering the (baked) goods since 1971. Order a taco de relleno negro, where shredded turkey is cooking in a black achiote paste contrasted by pickled red onions and a creamy guacamole. Chasing each bite with a whole raw habanero is conventional, but for humanity’s sake, optional.

One of LA’s most celebrated contemporary Mexican seafood stands, created by chef Gilberto Cetina Jr., who also runs the contiguous counter, and Yucatán-cuisine institution, Chichen Itza, located inside the Mercado La Paloma complex. Holbox is a real destination for seafood tacos, like delicately smoked kanpachi tacos; grilled Maine scallop tacos with bright, spicy chile x’catic; or grilled octopus in a briny bed of squid ink sofrito.

Colorful uni-topped ceviche tostada on a white plate with colorful tablecloth at Holbox.
Tostada from Holbox.
Farley Elliott

Tacos La Güera

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The al pastor here is worthy to be among the top vendors in town, but where this food truck sets itself apart from others in its grade is by serving true suadero, or brisket tacos. Tacos de fritanga, or meats fried in a stainless steel disc with a convex center are mostly supplied by Jaliscans, who don’t get into as much offal as their CDMX (Mexico City) counterparts, but one can still find chorizo, hog’s maw, chitterlings, and brisket.

Sonoratown

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There’s much to love about Jennifer Feltham and Teodoro Diaz-Rodriguez’s warm storefront taqueria — its menu of regional Sonoran tacos, the lorenza, caramelo, carne asada tucked into Sonoran wheat flour tortillas, and the chivichanga. The proposition of well-seasoned chicken, melted cheese, roasted Anaheim peppers, and tomatoes wrapped in a tasty flour tortilla, which is then lightly fried, is a simple pleasure worth repeating. 

Sonoratown’s flour tortilla taco with guacamole salsa on top.
Sonoratown
Farley Elliott

Cielito Lindo

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There’s no room for nostalgia here, but these legendary taquitos aren’t just the original taco in Los Angeles. They’re solely responsible for the current taco craze in America, and they’re delicious. Order deep fried beef taquitos drowned in a runny avocado salsa oozing with a piquant beefiness thickened with avocado. It’s like being one with the taco universe. Since 1934, the story of the taco north of the Rio Grande begins and ends here. 

Los Dorados LA

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Steven Orozco Torres’s flautas (deep fried tacos) are as colorful as his ice cream truck, splashed in kaleidoscope of purples and blues. The flautas are colorful too, with golden crunchy pipettes filled with smoky chicken tinga, potato and chorizo, or potato. The tacos are dressed in thick avocado sauce, cream, and a thin line of red salsa, coated in finely-crumbled cotija cheese. But the lamb barbacoa is on a whole other level. Opt for their dark, silky salsa, that’s a secret blend of dried chiles, that sticks to the flauta like a truck wrap, and the perfect amount of sour from Mexican cream. Antojitos don’t get better than this.

Angry Egret Dinette

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Taco Thursdays at chef Wes Avila’s Chinatown window are taking fans back to the days when Guerrilla Tacos founder was on the streets of the Arts District writing his chapter in the story of Alta California cuisine — a modern Mexican-American style of cooking born in Southern California. There’s usually a Baja-style fish taco on the menu, crêpe-thin flautas filled with short ribs, as well as other market-driven specials. But on Thursdays, Avila serves cured tripe finished in hot duck fat; tacos gobernadores, a spicy shrimp and melted cheese taco; and duck confit covered in charred salsa macha on blue corn tortillas. Avila’s tacos are back!

Chef Wes Avila in Los Angeles, California.
Chef Wes Avila in Los Angeles, California
Dylan + Jeni

Tacos El Chino

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Just three-and-a-half years old, Eduardo Arizpe’s Tijuana-style taco stand already counts three successful locations and has become a breakaway hit in the Latino community on social media. The Pueblan-born taquero honed his skills working for a couple of years in Tijuana prior to opening in Los Angeles, and is known for well-filled tacos de adobada (al pastor) sliced into meaty cuts. Fans also love the gut-busting quesadillas overflowing with Arizpe’s juicy adobada, and tender chuck steak roasted over mesquite wood that comes wrapped in handmade corn tortillas. It all gets slathered with copious amounts of Tijuana’s signature, creamy guacamole of course.

Tacos Y Birria La Unica

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Taquero Yasmany Mendoza’s popular food truck is one of the big winners in LA’s birria wars, always commanding a long line of taco devotees that show up for goat and beef birria. Mendoza serves the most requested Tijuana-style taco dishes Angeleno’s crave: tacos, dorados (crispy tortilla), mulitas (taco sandwiched in between two tortillas), quesatacos (tacos with melted/fried cheese), vampiros (taco on a toasted corn tortilla), and quesadillas dripping with birria juices. But with birria trucks on practically every corner, it’s the rich, herbal stew with streaks of animal fat in this truck’s birria that keeps them coming back for more. 

Birria de res tacos from La Unica
Tacos Y Birria La Unica
Matthew Kang

Mariscos Jalisco

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Could a recipe define a city? The secrets of flavorful shrimp are tucked into a corn tortilla then further obscured by the frenetic blistering of hot fat cooled by a frothy tomato salsa and a slice of avocado. Los Angeles hides its treasures in plain sight, under the fleeting shade doled out by rows of iconic fan palms, but on East Olympic Boulevard it’s the taco dorado de camarón from San Juan de Los Lagos that is an indelible image.   

Fried shrimp tacos at Mariscos Jalisco
Mariscos Jalisco
Matthew Kang

Macheen

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Has there ever been a time when chef Jonathan Pérez, and his sister, Ana, weren’t running to their next pop-up location, hyping a constantly evolving menu of modern Mexican-American tacos? Currently, they have a regular gig at Milpa Grille in Boyle Heights, where devoted fans can bite into umami-rich mushroom al pastor tacos, chicken in a sweet white mole and fried chicken tacos with hibiscus slaw, brought back by popular demand. The most talked about item is a hefty pork belly breakfast burrito, swelled by crispy hash browns, and spicy, melted cheese.

Carnitas El Momo

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The best way to have carnitas at Romulo Acosta’s shrine to Mexican confit-style pork cuts is to skip the onions and cilantro, and squeeze in some juices from a pickled jalapeño, chasing each bite of moist pork with some of the chile. That’s the way it’s done in Salamanca, Guanajuato. For more than half-century, “Momo” has been making artisanal carnitas, a trade he’s passed onto his children, ensuring the best carnitas in the U.S. are here to stay.

Carnitas El Momo
Carnitas El Momo
Trent Bozeman

Birria El Jalisciense

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There’s nothing more welcoming on a Sunday morning than the sight of Héctor Ramírez’s modified pizza oven, as he removes baking sheets full of blistered slabs of birria tatemada de chivo, or oven-roasted goat birria. Ramírez’s recipe comes from the northwestern highlands of Jalisco. Tender, charred goat birria comes in tangy consomé, or separately to make your own tacos with corn tortillas. Slurp the meat stock separately, and for a dollar more, get the maciza, the connoisseurs choice — a meaty, juicy boneless cut from the leg.

Los Originales Tacos Arabes de Puebla

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Tacos árabes aren’t possible without the special tortillas, called pan árabe, that are made exclusively in Puebla. Most vendors will just place the roasted pork — cooked on a vertical spit just like al pastor but with a different marinade — on a corn tortilla, which are actually called tacos orientales in Puebla. The Villegas family brings in traditional products from Puebla and prepare their tacos with tender pork and a tangy chipotle salsa.

Tacos Arabes truck in Boyle Heights with new livery
Tacos Arabes truck in Boyle Heights
Bill Esparza

Birrieria Nochistlan

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Jalisco is the gold standard when it comes to goat birria, followed by respected traditions in Aguascalientes and Zacatecas, especially Nochistlán de Mejia, Zacatecas, just three miles from the Jalisco state line, where the Moreno family originates. Their Boyle Heights outpost serves an austere rendition of braised goat in stock made from the drippings with only a hot chile de árbol salsa, chopped onions, and cilantro as condiments. 

El Ruso

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It would be easy for a customer from one of LA’s Mexican communities in the taco-know to see wayfaring taquero Walter Soto, a Tijuana native with culichi roots who has worked in Sinaloa, Sonora, and LA, and Julia Silva’s truck as curators of LA taco hits, yet there’s more than meets the eye. El Ruso is the most meta taqueria of the moment, with a menu of tacos about LA taco and tortilla trends. Here Mazatlan-style chorreadas, Tijuanense birria de res, Sonora-influenced carne asada with Sinaloan condiments, and Sonoran burritos wrapped in sobaqueras made by Silva from Baja Californian wheat filled with chile colorado reflect a menu that could only happen in LA. 

el ruso tacos on plate
El Ruso
Farley Elliott

Tacos El Paloma

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Carlos Pardo’s backyard beef head taco destination is back in action at a new location after a few years away. Pardo has been slowly building his business back with a handful of picnic benches and a steady stream of to-go orders out of his Compton home. Show up early for well-seasoned, steamed Sinaloan beef head cuts. Here tongue, head, cheeks, and palate arrive on corn tortillas, dressed with chopped cilantro, diced white onions, and a tangy salsa verde. Ask for beef head cuts in consomé, dressed with the same condiments eaten with corn tortillas.

Two plates of loaded tacos de cabeza with a side of spicy, earthy consomé.
Tacos El Paloma.
Erwin Recinos

Tacos Al Carbon Estilo Sinaloa

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Over 40 years ago, taquero Javier Morales began his career at Tacos El Memo in the Juan Carrasco neighborhood in Mazatlán. In 2005, he opened LA’s first Mazatlán-style carne asada stand in Compton, and today he continues to turn out satisfying tacos, chorreadas, and vampiros filled with mesquite-grilled chuck steak, covered in a flurry of finely cut cabbage and red onion, and mild tomato salsa and avocado salsa. Go for the spicy torito, a carne asada taco augmented by roasted chile Anaheim and melted cheese in a large flour tortilla, a meal of complex northern Mexican flavors.

Los Sabrosos al Horno

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Roast suckling pig tacos, called puerquito echado in Acaponeta, Nayarit — where taquero David Delfin grew up — are the only thing on the menu at his street cart, located in a dirt lot across from an industrial park in Cudahy. Fill the paper plate with tender, pork pulled from the carcass onto corn tortillas with a piece of golden, crispy skin. The dish is not complete with the traditional salsa de mostaza (mustard salsa), moistening the tacos with sweet, spicy chile guero for a light, tangy finish.

A ladle pours over yellow salsa onto pork tacos.
Pork tacos from Los Sabrosos al Horno
Wonho Frank Lee

Evil Cooks

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What does Alex Garcia and Elvia Huerta’s taco popup, and thrash metal have in common?—take a listen to Slayer’s Repentless and it all makes sense. Alex Garcia is a former restaurant chef turned counterculture taquero whose only compromise in life is that he will keep popular menu items around for his loyal fans, even if he really doesn’t like it. Alongside partner Elvia Huerta, Garcia’s Evil Cooks pop-ups promise unconventional tacos like octopus al pastor in a smoky recaudo negro (charred chiles marinade) that’s sliced from a forebodingly dark trompo. The flan dessert taco on a flour tortilla, called La Bruja (witch), is a tribute to Huerta, while the family’s homemade herbed green chorizo tacos take their customers on a tasty journey between heaven and hell.

Lupe's Burritos No. 2

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It is well documented in Mexico that burritos are tacos (tacos de harina, or tacos norteños) and since 1972, Manuela and Adeline Portillo’s East LA burrito stand has been a local favorite. Inside the classic 50’s- era burger stand, now run by grandson John Anthony, Mexican Americans cue up for LA-style combo burritos packed with refried beans, melted cheese, beef, and either a mild green salsa or a spicy red salsa. It all gets folded together inside of a large flour tortilla that’s warmed on a comal.

Half-bitten burrito wrapped in paper held by a hand.
Lupe’s No. 2
Matthew Kang

Tacos Don Cuco

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With poblano roots from Huehuetlan el Grande Puebla and Coatzingo, Puebla — the land where Tijuana taqueros are forged — father-and-son team Don Cuco and Jonathan Rios have crafted one of LA’s best taco spots. Along with family friend Manuel Mendez, who was on to help out at the 2018 opening, this group has managed to excel at tacos, mulitas, and tostadas topped with a tender mix of well-chopped chicken and shoulder clod steaks. It all comes dressed with diced onions and cilantro, mild tomato salsa, and a heaping serving spoon of creamy guacamole on a warmed corn tortilla. The family restaurant now counts three branches along with a pair of street stands (East LA and Boyle Heights).

Tamales Elena Y Antojitos

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The talented traditional cook Maria Elena Lorenzo and her daughters, a team of professional cooks, have opened their first brick and mortar that’s a pozolería, tamal stand, and a shrine to Afro-Mexican cuisine from La Costa Chica, Guerrero all at once. The guisados: tongue with plantains, aporreadillo (eggs with beef jerky), and mole verde are perfect for making your own tacos, but try the tacos dorados here. The pescadillas (crispy fish tacos) are as good as what you’ll find in Acapulco, and Lorenzo’s spicy beef barbacoa comes suave (corn tortilla) or dorado (deep fried corn tortilla), but its juicy fragrant stands of meat are best enjoyed in a crunchy shell. Call ahead to see which tacos are being served each day.

Aporreadillo, a scramble of beef jerky and eggs with tortillas.
Aporreadillo, a scramble of beef jerky and eggs with tortillas

Asadero Chikali

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Originally part of a second wave of Baja California-themed carne asada trucks, the Pérez family has added tacos made with northern Mexican guisados: steak and potatoes, scrambled eggs with ham, or chicharrónes in a red salsa. Get the guisados sampler; grab a stack of handmade flour tortillas made by Melva Pérez, and start eating. 

Asadero Chikali
Asadero Chikali

Tacos Baja

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One of the original fish taco stands in southern California opened in 1998 by co-founders Lourdes Toscano and Martin Vásquez, featuring a highly-guarded, secret tempura batter for Ensenada-style fish and shrimp tacos. Toscano, now the sole owner, runs three busy locations alongside her daughters on the strength of the taquería’s golden, crispy fish and shrimp tacos, cooled by pico de gallo, crema, and cabbage. Don’t forget to grab the flavorful chiles güeros dressed with lime and chile powder, and for a taste of the restaurant’s Sonoran roots, order the weekend-only caguamanta, served as stingray soup, stingray tacos, and vichis, an umami-rich stock.

Tacos La Carreta

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Regional carne asada has disseminated in recent years with provincial styles representing Mexicali, Tijuana, Sonora, and now Mazatlán, where mesquite-grilled steaks for chorreadas and vampiros fill the tangy beach resort air with a the balm of roasted meats. Now serving out of a taco truck, Jose Morales Jr. grills quality steak, greases a thick tortilla with asiento (unrefined pork lard) and melted cheese, then piles on the meat, creamy avocado salsa, pico de gallo, and slices of cucumber to snack on the side. 

Carne asada tacos and vampiro from La Carreta Matthew Kang

El Muelle 8

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The first US branch of this Culiacán-based barra fria and barra caliente seafood spot is a wonderland of Sinaloa flavors, from tacos with tempura-battered fish and shrimp to seafood stews and surf and turf combos with melted cheese. The Gaxiola, a tuna adobada (in adobo marinade) topped with guacamole, and salsas on a flour tortilla is a standout, as are creamy camarón culichis, a rich stew of shrimp cooked in pureed green chiles and Mexican cream, and tacochile mar y tierra, a roasted chile Anaheim covered in melted cheese, then mounted with grilled steak and shrimp.

Callo de hacha ceviche with raw shrimp from El Muelle 8 in Downey.
Ceviche from El Muelle 8.
Matthew Kang

Burritos La Palma

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Northern Mexican burritos (a regional style of taco) filled with savory stews were as much an innovation when the Bañuelos family opened Burritos La Palma in Jerez, Zacatecas in 1980 as they were when the first U.S. branch launched in El Monte five years ago. The beef birria burrito drips with simply seasoned meat juices and a light smear of refried beans, whose fragrant flavors permeate the fresh flour tortilla, staining through in a reddish-brown.   

Barba Kush

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From backyard barbacoa to a brick and mortar in Boyle Heights (and currently located in Baldwin Park), veteran barbacoa master Petra Zavaleta offers one of the most unique barbacoa styles in LA from her hometown of Tepeaca, Puebla. In addition to tender, flavorful lamb, and barbecued lamb skulls with eyes, tongue, and cheeks attached for making tacos with warming lamb consommé, there’s a rich, iron flavored lamb menudo called mole de panza enchilada. 

Lamb barbacoa, menudo, and quesadillas from Barba Kush
Barba Kush
Stan Lee

Mariscos Odaly

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Stingray soup, tacos, and caguamanta draw in a crowd to Gabriel Morales’ food truck in Fontana. Expect brilliant shades of blue at this busy spot that pulls from Sonoran breakfast culture and highlights images of Mexican politicians and narcos. There’s a lot to take in, from the colorful pop-up canopy and the trailer that scoops hot, buttery stingray soup, to barra fria items (ceviches) and shrimp, tuna fin, and surimi that is served in bowls with corn tortillas so customers can make their own tacos de caguamanta. 

Caguamanta — a stew of stingray filets, tomatoes, vegetables, shrimp, and tuna fin in a seafood stock flavored with spices and dried chiles — is a popular breakfast in Sonora, Mexico. At the Mariscos Odaly truck.
Seafood from Mariscos Odaly.
Matthew Kang

Tacos de Cabrito y Machito El Lagunero

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It’s well worth the drive to the semi-rural town of Muscoy for the only northern-Mexican spit roasted young goat in the state of California, prepared by Francisco Salinas and his wife Vanessa Sánchez. In front of a tire shop each Sunday morning, the couple serves spit-roasted cabrito that’s cooked in the tradition of Torreón, Coahuila, in the Lagunero region of Mexico. There’s also machitos, an intricate macrame of innards twisted around a metal rod and slowly cooked over fire, then chopped into chunks and bits for making tacos. The spicy consomé, a rich broth dripping with smoky, gamey juices from the goat meat, is a must.

Salinas finely chops the cabrito and its offals for a small menu of tacos de cabrito, tacos de machitos, quesabirrias de cabrito, and consomé.
Tacos from EL Lagunero.
Photography by Erwin Recinos

Tacos Los Palomos

The story of Mexico City-style al pastor has been written by a small group of indigenous Mihe entrepreneurs from Oaxaca like Fermin Martinez, whose trompos stretch from the San Fernando Valley, to San Bernardino County, to Torrance. Multiple locations serve tender al pastor in a sweet adobo that’s best enjoyed in a plate of tacos, gringas, with melted cheese inside a flour tortillas, or alambres — a stirfry of cheese, peppers, onions, ham, and al pastor that comes with a stack of corn tortillas.

Al pastor tacos from Tacos Los Palomos.
Al pastor tacos from Tacos Los Palomos
Matthew Kang

Teddy’s Red Tacos Venice

Teddy Vasquez is making good on his dream to put a delicious taco into as many LA hands as possible. His outlet in Venice sits just by the beach in a prime location, and serves up the same delicious birria de res, or simmered beef, tacos with signature bright red consomme as his Slauson truck original.

teddys red tacos
Teddy’s Red Tacos
[Official Photo]

Barbacoa Estilo Atotonilco El Grande

For barbacoyero Gonzalo Ramírez, there’s only one way to make barbacoa, the recipe he learned from his grandfather in Atotonilco El Grande, Hidalgo. Ramírez raises his own lambs, butchers them, roasts large lamb cuts in a cylindrical pit wrapped in maguey spines, and then serves smoky, tender lamb barbacoa tacos across from the DMV in Arleta on Sunday mornings only. Order a mix of barbacoa; well-herbed, stewed moronga (blood sausage); and pancita (offal stuffed stomach), and Ramírez’s earthy consomé, a stock made from the lamb drippings that taste like the smoldering essence of the pit.

The Ramirez family at their barbacoa stand in Arleta, California
The Ramirez family at their barbacoa stand in Arleta, California.
Wonho Frank Lee

Leo's Tacos Truck

Al pastor’s second wave was ushered in by the Oaxacan brothers behind a Mexico City-style food truck strategically placed on Venice and La Brea, within striking distance of a crossover audience. The blogs were soon filled with tales of mercenary taqueros and massive crimson mounds of sweet marinated pork, symmetrically trimmed off of vertical spits finished with the spectacle of flying chunks of pineapple snagged with Ozzie Smith-like precision onto a tortilla. Leo’s now has a fleet of trucks spreading the gospel of traditional al pastor to all Angelenos. 

Leo’s Tacos Truck
Leo’s Tacos Truck
Cathy Chaplin

Coni'Seafood

Connie Cossio’s Nayarit-style seafood mecca is known for tacos de marlin, yet, the pescado zarandeado tacos have always been the showstopper at its two locations, where grilled, plump snook imported from Mexico are always cooked to perfection. Grab a corn tortilla, tear slippery chunks of fatty, marinated flesh from the whole, butterflied fish, then add the house dressing of purple onions pickled in lime and Worcestershire sauce. The result is a blackened fish taco that melts in your mouth. Paired with an icy michelada, and you’re transported to a balmy, beach escape to San Blas, Mexcaltitán, or Playa Novillero.

Pescado zarandeado at Coni’Seafood
Coni’Seafood’s pescado zarandeado.
Matthew Kang

Gish Bac

Maria Ramos is a third-generation Oaxacan barbacoa master with deep roots in the Mercado de Tlacolula in Oaxaca. Her barbacoa enchilada, or pit-roasted lamb in a chile-based marinade, is a smoky, spicy taste of pre-Hispanic tacos de barbacoa. In a city full of Oaxacan restaurants, Gish Bac is the best restaurant in its class for its esteemed barbacoa and traditional Oaxacan cookery.