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Farley Elliott

10 Classic Los Angeles Taco Spots to Try Before You Die

These longstanding tacos have helped define generations of eating in the city.

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A conversation about Los Angeles' favorite foods might not begin with tacos, but there's a decent chance it ends there. Late night trucks, walk up counters and street food hawkers have known for generations that a delicious taco will move the needle and draw in customers, so that's exactly what they served.

Decades later, many of the city's original taco mavens are still at it, pushing out simple tacos to, on many occasions, third or fourth generation customers — and Los Angeles is a better city for them. Here are ten of the city's finest longstanding taco operations, from Whittier to Santa Monica to the Valley.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Henry's Tacos

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4389 Tujunga Ave
Studio City, CA 91604
(818) 769-0343

Perhaps the Valley’s most famous taco (well, at least the Googie signage is famous), Henry’s Tacos has been operating nearly nonstop since 1961. The were, of course, some dark times in 2013, when a lease dispute forced the longtime tenant from their home, but now things are up and running smoothly once again, serving gringo tacos to anyone who wants — at the same low prices.

2. Tito's Tacos

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11222 Washington Pl
Culver City, CA 90230
(310) 391-5780
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The Westside’s quintessential old school taco, Tito’s Tacos on Washington Place has been serving their Americanized hard shell tacos since 1959. Forget fresh, farm to table or even so-called authentic: these are the ground beef, shredded orange cheese monstrosities of your youth. And even the adults still line the sidewalk for them.

3. Arturo's Puffy Taco

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15693 Leffingwell Rd
Whittier, CA 90604
(562) 947-2250

As one of the region’s only restaurants to serve the Houston-famous fried puffy taco, Arturo’s in Whittier deserves some respect. The team there has been at it for decades, whipping up overloaded ground beef tacos laced with thin guacamole, shredded lettuce and plenty of orange cheese. Ask nicely and they’ll even roll a hot dog up in a corn tortilla and fry the whole thing for you.

4. King Taco Restaurant

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1118 Cypress Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90065
(323) 223-2595
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Founded by Raul Martinez Sr. as a taco truck that would park on the Eastside, King Taco quickly expanded to become an indelible part of L.A.’s Mexican food landscape. The original brick and mortar location of King Taco still stands at its original location along Cypress Avenue, with few updates (and lots of tacos sold) since 1974.

5. Cielito Lindo

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23 Olvera St
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 687-4391
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Taquitos exist as a separate but equally fulfilling part of L.A.’s taco lexicon. Olvera Street is lined with vendors selling the rolled, fried tacos, but perhaps none are as famous as Cielito Lindo, located at one end of the boulevard. First opened in 1934 and still in the hands of the original family, Cielito Lindo is one of Los Angeles’ most longstanding taco institutions.

6. Tacos Por Favor

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11901 W Olympic Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90064
(310) 479-2818
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Santa Monica’s decades old taco institution is still going strong, serving their version of ‘healthy Mexican’ cuisine along Pico. In reality, though, most locals aren’t looking to die when they arrive: they come for the breakfast burritos, chorizo tacos and one hell of a salsa bar.

7. Yuca's Taqueria

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2056 Hillhurst Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90027
(323) 662-1214
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Nearing 40 years in the game, Yuca’s in Los Feliz has stood the test of time; they even won a James Beard award a decade ago in the American Classics category. it’s still all about the cochinita pibil at this standalone shack, whether served as a taco, burrito, torta or beyond.

8. Los Cinco Puntos

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3300 E Cesar E Chavez Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90063
(323) 261-4084

East L.A. legend Los Cinco Puntos has been serving on Cesar Chavez for more than a generation. The popular grocery store operation slings some of the city’s meanest carnitas out of the back, which cazos full of pig parts turning into tasty tacos (on handmade tortillas, no less) in the blink of an eye.

9. La Reyna Restaurant

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2000 7th St
Los Angeles, CA 90021
(213) 624-9879

Though recently slapped with a For Lease sign in downtown’s ever-gentrifying Arts District, the building that houses La Reyna has been around for decades. The restuarant-cum-taco-table’s own history dates to 1974, apparently, meaning those ever popular street style tacos (chorizo, al pastor and griddled peppers included) have been around for at least four decades.

10. Taqueria El Atacor #1

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3520 N Figueroa St, #3
Los Angeles, CA 90065
(323) 342-0180

The original location of a mini-empire that has spawned throughout Los Angeles county (and led to plenty of imitators), the longstanding El Atacor on Figueroa is a bit of strip mall nirvana. Late night diners might move towards the filling asada nachos or sublime potato tacos, but daytime eaters hit the al pastor tacos and sopes hard.

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1. Henry's Tacos

4389 Tujunga Ave, Studio City, CA 91604

Perhaps the Valley’s most famous taco (well, at least the Googie signage is famous), Henry’s Tacos has been operating nearly nonstop since 1961. The were, of course, some dark times in 2013, when a lease dispute forced the longtime tenant from their home, but now things are up and running smoothly once again, serving gringo tacos to anyone who wants — at the same low prices.

4389 Tujunga Ave
Studio City, CA 91604

2. Tito's Tacos

11222 Washington Pl, Culver City, CA 90230

The Westside’s quintessential old school taco, Tito’s Tacos on Washington Place has been serving their Americanized hard shell tacos since 1959. Forget fresh, farm to table or even so-called authentic: these are the ground beef, shredded orange cheese monstrosities of your youth. And even the adults still line the sidewalk for them.

11222 Washington Pl
Culver City, CA 90230

3. Arturo's Puffy Taco

15693 Leffingwell Rd, Whittier, CA 90604

As one of the region’s only restaurants to serve the Houston-famous fried puffy taco, Arturo’s in Whittier deserves some respect. The team there has been at it for decades, whipping up overloaded ground beef tacos laced with thin guacamole, shredded lettuce and plenty of orange cheese. Ask nicely and they’ll even roll a hot dog up in a corn tortilla and fry the whole thing for you.

15693 Leffingwell Rd
Whittier, CA 90604

4. King Taco Restaurant

1118 Cypress Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90065

Founded by Raul Martinez Sr. as a taco truck that would park on the Eastside, King Taco quickly expanded to become an indelible part of L.A.’s Mexican food landscape. The original brick and mortar location of King Taco still stands at its original location along Cypress Avenue, with few updates (and lots of tacos sold) since 1974.

1118 Cypress Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90065

5. Cielito Lindo

23 Olvera St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Taquitos exist as a separate but equally fulfilling part of L.A.’s taco lexicon. Olvera Street is lined with vendors selling the rolled, fried tacos, but perhaps none are as famous as Cielito Lindo, located at one end of the boulevard. First opened in 1934 and still in the hands of the original family, Cielito Lindo is one of Los Angeles’ most longstanding taco institutions.

23 Olvera St
Los Angeles, CA 90012

6. Tacos Por Favor

11901 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

Santa Monica’s decades old taco institution is still going strong, serving their version of ‘healthy Mexican’ cuisine along Pico. In reality, though, most locals aren’t looking to die when they arrive: they come for the breakfast burritos, chorizo tacos and one hell of a salsa bar.

11901 W Olympic Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90064

7. Yuca's Taqueria

2056 Hillhurst Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027

Nearing 40 years in the game, Yuca’s in Los Feliz has stood the test of time; they even won a James Beard award a decade ago in the American Classics category. it’s still all about the cochinita pibil at this standalone shack, whether served as a taco, burrito, torta or beyond.

2056 Hillhurst Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90027

8. Los Cinco Puntos

3300 E Cesar E Chavez Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90063

East L.A. legend Los Cinco Puntos has been serving on Cesar Chavez for more than a generation. The popular grocery store operation slings some of the city’s meanest carnitas out of the back, which cazos full of pig parts turning into tasty tacos (on handmade tortillas, no less) in the blink of an eye.

3300 E Cesar E Chavez Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90063

9. La Reyna Restaurant

2000 7th St, Los Angeles, CA 90021

Though recently slapped with a For Lease sign in downtown’s ever-gentrifying Arts District, the building that houses La Reyna has been around for decades. The restuarant-cum-taco-table’s own history dates to 1974, apparently, meaning those ever popular street style tacos (chorizo, al pastor and griddled peppers included) have been around for at least four decades.

2000 7th St
Los Angeles, CA 90021

10. Taqueria El Atacor #1

3520 N Figueroa St, #3, Los Angeles, CA 90065

The original location of a mini-empire that has spawned throughout Los Angeles county (and led to plenty of imitators), the longstanding El Atacor on Figueroa is a bit of strip mall nirvana. Late night diners might move towards the filling asada nachos or sublime potato tacos, but daytime eaters hit the al pastor tacos and sopes hard.

3520 N Figueroa St, #3
Los Angeles, CA 90065

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