The Real A List: Absolute Best Tacos in L.A.

By Hillary Eaton

One of the perks of living in L.A. is that you’re always within a five-block radius of a taco. Of course, everyone has their favorite spot — the place they always hit up when in need of a serious taco fix. But, where do the true taco fans go? Now, that’s the real question.

Don’t fret: We’ve got your back. We’ve narrowed it down to the absolute best bites that the city has to offer. From unassuming food carts that gather lines of hungry taco fanatics to small storefronts to long-established classics, we’ve rounded up the spots that every aficionado knows and loves. Taco crawl, anyone?

Ricky’s Fish Tacos


(Photo: Phoebe Chuason)

When it comes to fish tacos, Ricky Piña’s Baja-style versions are what’s up. Serving golden, fried fish filets, fresh pico de gallo, and shredded cabbage in a homemade tortilla, they embody the best of Ensenada in one bite. Cover with white sauce and fresh, hot salsa, and get ready to enter Mexican-food heaven.

Ricky’s Fish Tacos, 1400 North Virgil Avenue (near De Longpre Avenue); 323-906-7290.

Bar Amá


(Courtesy of Bar Amá)

If a breakfast taco is what you’re craving, there’s none as good as Bar Amá’s. With fillings of carne, potato and egg, sausage and egg, or bean and cheese, it’s the perfect plate to start your day — not to mention an excellent hangover cure.

Bar Ama, 118 West 4th Street (near South Spring Street); 213-687-8002.

Chichén Itzá Restaurant


(Courtesy of Chichén Itza)

Serving up delicious Yucatán cuisine from their outpost at south L.A.’s Mercado de Paloma, the Cetina family has kept Chichén Itzá high on every taco lover’s list throughout the years. The region’s Spanish-, Lebanese-, and Mayan-influenced cuisine is represented wonderfully throughout the menu, but the must-order item is the Cochinita Pibil: a dish featuring achiote-rubbed pork wrapped in banana leaves, slow-roasted for hours on end before it’s shredded, placed in a fresh tortilla, and covered with red pickled onions.

Chichén Itzá Restaurant, 3655 South Grand Avenue (near West 37th Street); 213-741-1075.

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Sky’s Gourmet Tacos


(Photo: Phoebe Chuason)

Turns out, you don’t need to venture south of the border for taco inspiration. With items like filet mignon and crawfish tacos on the menu, this soul food-influenced shop may not be serving up your traditional fare, but we aren’t complaining one bit. With more than 20 years of serving their “Southwest meets Louisiana” offerings, Sky’s Gourmet Tacos shows you how traditional the nontraditional can become.

Sky’s Gourmet Tacos, 5408 West Pico Boulevard (near La Brea Avenue); 323-932-6253.

Petty Cash


(Courtesy of Mary Costa)

Offering up semi-authentic and supremely tasty takes on Mexican street food, this taquería headed by Chef Walter Manzke is more about interpretation than replication, in all of the right ways. Super-traditional ingredients, such as blue-corn tortillas, meet nontraditional items like maitake mushrooms, creating a nod to the classic taco that’s totally unique.

Petty Cash, 7360 Beverly Boulevard (near North Fuller Avenue); 323-933-5300.

Tacos Quetzalcoatl


(Photo: Phoebe Chuason)

Slinging rarer Mexican fare from the Chalmita region, Tacos Quetzalcoatl has everything you want when it comes to tacos. Go for the trifecta of the cecina (a Mexican-style beef jerky), the sumptuous pit-roasted lamb barbacoa, and one of the best vegetarian tacos out there: tacos de huauzontles. A blend of stewed Aztec spinach, alfalfa sprouts, red amaranth, and a mixture of cheeses, it’s good enough to stand up to the best of the meat tacos out there. While you’re waiting for your order, we suggest digging into the self-serve consommé station that holds piping-hot, intensely flavorful lamb stock made from the leftover bones and drippings of the lamb barbacoa. Top it with rice and chickpeas, then sit back and watch as your tortillas are made to order.

Tacos Quetzalcoatl, weekends at East Olympic Boulevard (at the northwest corner of South Ferris Avenue); weekdays at South Central Avenue and East 8th Street; no phone.



(Courtesy of Flautas)

Take a taco, roll it, then deep-fry it, and you’ll have yourself a deliciously crunchy form of taco known as a flauta. The best in town are made by Jaime Martin Del Campo and Ramiro Arvizu at this restaurant. In the traditional Jalisco style, these unbeatable flautas come with an array of fillings — from cochinita to papa con chorizo — and are nicely smothered in sauces, moles, and salsas.

Flautas, 3650 West Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard (at Crenshaw Boulevard); 323-773-1898.

Leo’s Taco Truck


(Photo: Phoebe Chuason)

With a near-cult following, this truck’s al pastor is definitely one of the best tacos in L.A. Make your way to the coveted spot in front of the spit and watch as your citrus-, spice-, and pineapple-marinated al pastor gets shaved off, then tossed onto a tortilla and handed straight to you.

Leo’s Taco Truck, 1515 South La Brea Avenue (at Venice Boulevard); 323-231-5116.

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Guerrilla Tacos


(Courtesy of Guerrilla Tacos)

Fine-dining expat Wesley Avila’s Guerrilla Tacos has quickly risen to the top of L.A.’s taco scene. And, for a good reason! Its daily-changing menu — laden with meat, fish, and veggie offerings — uses a variety of fresh and locally sourced ingredients to produce some of the straight-up best elevated versions of Mexican street food you can find.

Guerrilla Tacos; various locations.

Mariscos Jalisco


(Courtesy of Mariscos Jalisco)

While the fleet of copycat trucks will try to deceive you, there’s nothing quite as good as Raul Ortega’s shrimp tacos dorados at Mariscos Jalisco. These wonderfully briny, crispy shrimp morsels topped with fermented, cabbage-laced salsa and fresh avocado often create lines that can stretch down the block. But, believe us, it’s well worth the wait — and then some!

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Mariscos Jalisco, 3040 East Olympic Avenue (near South Dacotah Street); 323-528-6701.



(Courtesy of Guisados)

Guisados aims to highlight the simple yet delicious flavors of traditional Mexican braises. Translation? This beloved spot is home to some of L.A.’s tastiest takes on home-style tacos. In fact, there are so many solid options to choose from here that we recommend going for a sampler to get a taste of them all.

Guisados, 2100 East Cesar E Chavez Avenue (at North St. Louis Street); 323-264-7201.

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