(Update: @ipsedixit mentioned this thread has grown so much it might be hard to navigate for new visitors, so I’m adding a “Recommended” section at the very top here, for ease of use. Full thoughts and details about each one in this thread below.)
Al Pastor Taco - Leo’s Taco #1:
Carnitas Taco - Villa Moreliana (10 different types):
Carne Asada Taco - Tacos La Carreta:
Fish Taco - Guerrilla Tacos:
Lamb & Goat Tacos - Barbacoa y Birria Estilo Guerrero:
Amazing Vegetarian Tacos - Revolutionario, BS Taqueria, Guerrilla Tacos:
Unique, Farmers Market Chef Quality Tacos - Guerrilla Tacos, Revolutionario:
It’s been a while since we had a fun outing grabbing some street tacos before the rest of the night’s activities. So after everyone met up, we headed out to try out some taco spots this weekend.
Leo’s Tacos #2 (Glendale Blvd.)
We love the original Leo’s Taco Truck’s Al Pastor (over on La Brea), but having heard they expanded with 4 Taco Trucks now, we decided to see how some of the other locations were. Decided to try Truck #2 on Glendale Blvd. near Temple.
The Trompo was up and spinning, with a pineapple on top. Looked legit, so we all lined up and gave it a try.
Al Pastor Taco:
It tasted… oddly bitter(!), and only slightly savory. Leo’s original truck was miles better. Maybe it was an off night, but we left disappointed.
Leo’s Taco Truck #2
415 Glendale Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90026
Tire Shop Tacos (@ El Jarocho Tire Shop)
This Tire Shop Taqueria is supposed to be famous for their Carne Asada, located inside of the El Jarocho Tire Shop in the off hours at night.
The mesquite charcoal grill and the smell of grilling Steaks and Chorizo was mesmerizing! We couldn’t wait!
We saw two of the Taqueria’s workers making their Tortillas fresh, by hand! So nice!
Carne Asada Taco:
Fresh grilled Carne Asada Skirt Steak was topped with their fresh Guacamole and a dash of their Salsa and some Onions and Cilantro. It was intensely smoky and a word of warning: Their Salsa is SPICY! Woo! It was juicy and smoky, but it wasn’t the best I had before. Still, quite nice (I think we liked Mexacali Tacos more when they were at 2nd Street).
Their Chorizo was also fresh-grilled and it was definitely DELISH! Less smoky than the Carne Asada with a nice blend of seasoning and spices (but not too spicy). Loved it!
Their homemade Horchata was also wonderful.
Tire Shop Taqueria (@ El Jarocho Tire Shop)
4069 S. Avalon Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90011
After that we went to Comfort LA.
The next day we got everyone together again and wanted to continue our taco journey: Revolutionario. My friends who hadn’t been loved it!
I got 3 of my favs. Grilled Cauliflower Taco:
As wonderfully lightly spiced and fragrant as before.
Chickpea Tagine (with Spinach, Sweet Potatoes) Taco:
Beef Brisket Barbacoa Taco:
As much as I love the fresh mesquite grilled Carne Asada the night before, sorry, but Chef Zadi’s North African Tacos with the amazing stewed Beef Brisket Barbacoa just takes the cake! So wonderfully, intensely beefy and lovely.
Love Chef Zadi’s cooking!
1436 West Jefferson Blvd.
Los Angeles 90007
Ricky’s Fish Tacos
Our final stop, Ricky’s wonderful Ensenada style Fish Tacos!
Ensenada Fish Taco:
I love Ricky’s Fish Tacos, and Ricky Pina was in the house today, making some more of his wonderful fried fish creations.
Crunchy on the outside with the lovely batter, and moist, succulent fish on the inside. Awesome fresh Pico de Gallo on top. Perfect.
Pacific Spiny Lobster Taco:
Ricky mentions that it’s getting down to the final few weekends for Pacific Spiny Lobster to be in season, and he said they’d be gone from the menu soon, so we were glad to have gotten one before the season was over.
The Spiny Lobster was firm but tender, and more meaty than the regular Ensenada Fish Tacos. It’s delicious, and a nice contrast to Ricky’s signature taco.
Ricky’s Fish Tacos
1400 N. Virgil
Los Angeles, CA 90027
Overall a lovely Taco weekend!
Update: Part 2 of the Taco Journey.
Part 2: One of my friends from our weekend taco run called me to grab a quick lunch at GCM. Figured, why not? Let’s continue our Taco Journey.
This little taco stand inside Grand Central Market has quickly shot up the ranks to become my favorite Carnitas Taco shop in the city! Lovely, authentic Michoacan Carnitas, properly cooked. And unlike many places that have just 1 type of “Carnitas,” here they serve 14 (Fourteen!) types of Carnitas.
Pierna Carnitas (Slow Cooked Pork Leg (“Ham” on Menu)) Taco:
Lean, but tender. Not too salty. Delish!
Espaldilla Carnitas (Stewed Pork Roast) Taco:
It’s on the leaner side like the Pierna but more juicy.
Buche Carnitas (Stewed Pork Stomach) Taco:
Really tender, a nice, slight chewiness.
Lengua Carnitas (Stewed Pork Tongue) Taco:
A bit more firm than traditional Beef Tongue (Lengua), it’s still tender, but definitely the most substantial of the cuts of meat I tried today. But very good.
Costillas Carnitas (Stewed Pork Ribs) Taco:
Probably my fav of the cuts! Super tender, but with nice crunchy bits from the soft cartilage being stewed down. So good!
It was sold out today, but their Orejas Carnitas (Stewed Pork Ear) Tacos have been consistently awesome! Soft with a slight crunch.
Simply awesome! My favorite Carnitas in L.A.
(Inside Grand Central Market, Downtown L.A.)
317 South Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Update 3: Checked out a few more taquerias this past week.
Mexicali Taco & Co.
Mexicali Tacos shot up in recognition a few years ago, from its humble beginnings as a late night taco stand on 1st Street, to its current incarnation as a full brick-and-mortar store.
They specialize in Baja-style tacos, and make their salsas from scratch.
Al Pastor Taco:
They cook their pork on a trompo and even slice some pineapple just like Leo’s and many other traditional places do, but the pork was a bit dry and one note.
Their Chorizo was better, but compared to flavors of the Tire Shop Taqueria, it was lacking.
Carne Asada Taco:
Was really looking forward to their Carne Asada, because that was one of their standouts when they first started out as a little stand. The Beef was juicy, but the flavors were kinda one-note. It wasn’t bad, but not great either. Maybe I’m spoiled by the recent Tire Shop Taqueria’s fresh grilled smokiness, or Revolutionario’s ridiculous deep, beefy Barbacoa Beef Brisket Tacos, but these were just not that enjoyable.
Mexicali Taco & Co.
702 N. Figueroa Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Tel: (213) 613-0416
(CLOSED) Tacos Punta Cabras
One of Santa Monica’s few legit Taquerias, Tacos Punta Cabras specializing in a modern take on Baja-style tacos.
They seem to be chef-driven, making all their salsas and sauces from scratch, and they have Vegan and Gluten-Free Options as well.
Their Fish Tacos are pretty light, Tempura batter-fried Fish, with a house-made Wasabi-Lime Crema. Fish was juicy, and I dug the mounds of fresh veggies on top keeping it all very light and refreshing. The batter isn’t as crackling and crunchy as Ricky’s Fish Tacos, but it’s a nice take on the Fish Taco.
Their Scallop Taco is also served with their Wasabi-Lime Crema. The Scallops are tender and juicy, and not overcooked.
Just fantastic! They shave farmer’s market fresh Cauliflower with a Pico de Gallo, fresh Avocado, and a house-made Almond Crema. This Tostada tastes meaty! I coulda sworn there was some meat in there, LOL. Probably one of the best Vegetarian dishes I’ve had recently.
Tacos Punta Cabras
2311 Santa Monica Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90404
Guerrilla Tacos (2nd Report)
We went back to Guerrilla Tacos again, but that speaks volumes to Chef Wes Avila’s cooking. Every day is literally a new menu, depending on what Chef Avila sources from the farmer’s market.
Chorizo, Squash and Egg Flautas (with Market Greens, Fresno Chile, Oaxacan Cheese, Chile de Arbol, Chives):
This is exactly the kind of outside-the-box thinking that makes Guerrilla Tacos so endearing. Their “Flautas” is this awesome mixture of Chorizo sausage, lightly, naturally sweet Squash and Eggs. It’s delicious, savory and spicy.
Wild Boar Pocho Taco (with Pinto Beans, Aged Red Fox Cheddar, Cherry Tomatoes, Cilantro, Burnt Tomato Chile):
The Wild Boar is only slightly gamy, but tender and juicy. The Aged Red Fox Cheddar is gorgeous visually and balances out the flavors. Fantastic!
Foie Gras Scramble on Toast:
And then things get absurd: Foie Gras Egg Scramble on a freshly toasted Brioche Bun?! Seriously, Chef Avila shows off his refined cooking roots with this Daily Special.
Imagine perfectly seared Foie Gras (generous portion), sweet, silky buttery, sexy, on top of PERFECTLY COOKED Farmer’s Market Fresh Eggs. The pictures don’t do it justice, but these are the BEST Scrambled Eggs I’ve had in recent memory! They are just cooked through, still silky, moist, fluffy, AWESOME!
And together? They are the best thing I ate this weekend.
Seriously amazing stuff that Chef Avila is doing at Guerrilla Tacos. Can’t wait to see what he has in store this week.
2000 E. 7th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90021
Tel: (213) 375-3300
Petty Cash Taqueria (Arts District / Downtown L.A.)
I have largely avoided Petty Cash since I read the early reports on our old board from many respected members, talking about the overpriced nature and the so-so taste. But with Petty Cash Taqueria opening up in Downtown L.A. and with a year gone by, I was hoping it might be better than the reports I had read so far.
I should’ve listened.
Located around the corner from Bestia, the new Petty Cash Arts District is this weird mixture of wanna-be street + hipster (see the entrance) flowing into a gastropub / brick / low-lighting feel in the main dining room.
Petty Cash’s claim to fame is partially based on a menu created by consulting Chef Walter Manzke. I enjoy many of the dishes at Manzke’s Republique, so how bad could the tacos be here?
Cook’s Ranch Pork Belly Carnitas Taco (with Salsa Verde, Guacamole):
It sounds great (using Cook’s Ranch natural pork), but the taste is just OK. The pork is crisped, with a tender fattiness, but it tastes old. In addition at $6 for a single taco(WTH?!) the picture I took is a zoomed in shot. It is seriously only slightly bigger than a regular street taco. Villa Morelianas (my fav Carnitas specialist in the city)'s Carnitas Tacos are only $2.50 and it’s easily about 250% LARGER than this, and it tastes far better.
Prime Rib Carne Asada Taco (w/ Refried Beans, Guacamole):
I was so looking forward to this taco, extremely curious what Prime Rib might taste like in taco form… only, what you get is a smallish taco with a mound of WELL-DONE Bland Beef. There’s so little taste (no beefy quality), and it was well-done (waste of beef). And it was $6 for this single round of travesty. Avoid.
Wood-Fired Octopus Taco (with Chile de Arbol, Peanuts, Jack Cheese, Avocado):
Finally, a standout. The Octopus is super tender, perfectly cooked! Wow. It was a bit too greasy though. But definitely the best taco we tried at Petty Cash DTLA.
Baja Fish Taco (Mahi-Mahi, Pico de Gallo, Crema Cabbage):
Seriously, $6 for a small fish taco that features overcooked, dryish, tough fish?! I’m not being glib when I say that the fish tacos I’ve had at Wahoo’s and Sharky’s taste about the same (and were cheaper). Ugh.
Al Pastor Taco (Adobo Chile-rubbed Pork Leg, Pineapple, Avocado):
This taco was GROSS: A gloopy, soggy mess of a taco, with overly fatty chunks of pork. I couldn’t finish the taco.
We all felt ripped off and just really disappointed with the tacos here. Especially considering the pedigree. Very disappointed.
(CLOSED) Petty Cash Taqueria, Arts District (Downtown L.A.)
712 S Santa Fe Ave.
Los Angeles, CA
Tel: (213) 624-0210
One of my friends literally spit out the Al Pastor from Petty Cash, and for my own sanity and to salvage all things great about “Al Pastor,” we made a run to…
Leo’s Tacos #1
The original Leo’s Taco Truck (on the corner of La Brea & Venice), was slammed with people, its popularity growing each year.
After the disappointment of Leo’s Tacos #2 and Petty Cash, I had to see if this original still had it. The lovely Trompo was out in full force:
Al Pastor Taco:
MUCH better! Phew! Leo’s Taco Truck #1’s Al Pastor is savory, moist, and so much better than Petty Cash’s version, and only $1 a taco compared to $6. Although I feel that Leo’s recipe or execution has taken a step back from its early days, but Truck #1 is still enjoyable.
Leo’s Tacos #1
1515 S. La Brea Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90019
Ever since Chef Ray Garcia left Santa Monica’s FIG, I’ve been eagerly anticipating what he might be cooking up next and where he might land. BS Taqueria served as “part one” of his new journey post-FIG, with the more formal sit down Broken Spanish as “part two.”
It had been a while since I last hit up BS Taqueria (enjoyed the first few visits), so we popped in for a quick visit.
Chef Garcia’s Horchata reflects the rest of his ideals at this restaurant, taking interesting ingredients and elevating the original notion of the drink or dish in question. B.S. Taqueria’s Horchata is made with Barley, Piloncillo (a type of Cane Sugar) and Almond Milk.
And it’s fantastic! It’s a little gritty, nutty and sweet, but not too sweet.
Their lunch special adds a nice Mixed Greens Salad (with Lime Vinaigrette):
Chef Garcia’s Shrimp Taco is awesome. Shrimp sauteed in a Guajillo Chile Sauce, Jalapeno infused Handmade Tortillas. The Shrimp is fresh and perfectly cooked. Legit, yet new.
Cactus & Hibiscus Taco:
The Cactus (Nopales) is tender and the Hibiscus flowers add a slight tangy-ness. Chef Garcia shows off his FIG experience using fresh, fully ripened farmer’s market fresh avocados, which are so creamy and lush.
Mushrooms & Garlic Taco:
I think in many fancier restaurants, seeing “Mushrooms & Garlic Taco” would probably elicit a notion of incredulousness, thinking it’s just an afterthought for Vegetarians or something. But this is a creation from the chef who was so smitten with the freshest produce and delivering what’s in season from the local farmer’s markets that he added a “ticker tape” to the menu at FIG, broadcasting what was in season at the moment and what was coming soon.
The Mushrooms & Garlic Taco is RIDICULOUS. It’s meaty, savory, bursting with flavors, full of umami. It’s one of the best Tacos I’ve eaten recently and it’s Vegetarian, blowing away many of the meat-based Tacos I’ve had. Chef Ray Garcia uses a mixture of fresh local farmer’s market mushrooms, sauteed with Thyme, Oregano, Chile de Arbol (awesome!) served on top of a White Bean Puree, and the amazing Handmade Tortillas. Serious WIN.
There were some dishes only served at night, so I had to come back and try more stuff.
Really soft, long-stewed, tender slivers of Beef Tongue.
Chorizo and Papas Taco:
Just great flavors. Crisped, seared Potato chunks with a lightly spicy, savory Chorizo Sausage.
Clams and Lardo Taco:
If you love seafood, you might wanna check this taco out. It’s briny, savory (from the lardo), and maybe a bit too oily for me, but great in small doses, LOL.
514 W. 7th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90014
Tel: (213) 622-3744
Guerrilla Tacos (3rd Visit)
And Chef Wes Avila continues to astound at Guerrilla Tacos. His daily menu today features some new twists.
Sweet Potato Taco (with Almond Chile, Feta Cheese, Fried Corn, Scallions):
The Sweet Potatoes are beautiful, sweet and soft, yet crispy because Chef Avila sears the outside, giving it some awesome texture contrast! It sounds “boring” but this Taco is great, sweet, lightly spicy.
Baja-style Shrimp Taco (with Chipotle Crema, Cabbage, Raw Tomatillo Chile, Avocado):
A nice contrast to BS Taqueria’s take on a Shrimp Taco, Chef Avila goes with fried, battered Shrimp. And the Shrimp he uses are massive! These are HUGE Gulf Shrimp, seriously only one step down from large Santa Barbara Spot Prawns.
The Shrimp are tender and cooked just right. It’s a bit on the acidic side, but still solid. I liked BS Taqueria’s Shrimp Taco more in terms of flavor.
Squash Blossom Taco (with Ricotta Cheese, Hazelnut, Bill’s Bees Honey, Heirloom Tomatoes, Chile Morita):
Besides being drop-dead gorgeous visually, the Squash Blossom Tacos are another flavor bomb! PERFECT Flavor Synergy with the Squash Blossoms and light, creamy Ricotta Cheese. The balance of flavors in this taco make it one of the best tacos yet from Chef Avila! It just ROCKS! (and yes, there’s no meat in it and it’s that good!)
There are some pretty amazing tacos coming out of the city these days from both Chef Garcia and Chef Avila. Can’t wait to see what’s next.
2000 E. 7th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90021
Tel: (213) 375-3300
Update 5 - Excellent Carnitas in the OC, Goat Tacos (Carnitas Uruapan, El Taco Grande and more):
Update 6 - Old School Carnitas Specialist (Carnitas El Momo):
Update 7 - Delicious Cauliflower Tacos and the best Lamb Barbacoa Tacos (Colonia Tacos Guisados, Barbacoa y Birria Estilo Taxco Guerrero):
Update 8 - Hollywood Movie Star Tacos, Awesome Al Pastor, Best Goat Tacos Ever (Trejo’s Tacos, Tacos La Guera, Goat Tacos at Barbacoa y Birria Estilo Taxco Guerrero, Aqui Es Texcoco):
Update 9 - Vegetarian Tacos, Swordfish, and the Best Carne Asada Tacos in L.A.! (Tio Flaco’s Tacos, Guerrilla Tacos (Revisit), Tacos Quetzalcoatl, Loqui, Tacos Los Guichos, Tacos La Carreta, Tacos La Guera (Revisit))
Update 10 - Amazing Mole, Pork Belly and Black Cod Tacos and more! (Taco Maria, Rocio’s Mexican Kitchen, Sonoratown, Salazar, Tacos La Carreta (revisit) and more!
Update 11 - Visiting Grass Fed Beef Tacos, Suadero Tacos and more (A Cut Above, Amor Y Tacos, Tacos El Jefe, Tacos La Guera (Revisit), Guerrilla (Revisit), Lamb Tacos, etc.).
Update 12 - Beef Lip Tacos at Tacos El Karnal! Homemade Chorizo Tacos at Huitlacoche, Amazing Cod Milt Tacos at Guerrilla Tacos (Revisit) and More!
Update 13 - Birria Taco Exploration, La Unica, Teddy’s Red Tacos, Unnamed Carnitas Specialist on Slauson, Taqueria Periban and More!