With its proximity to the Mexican border, Los Angeles is one of the best American cities for sampling tacos. They're a staple in L.A.'s Mexican-American enclaves, but they've migrated out of the barrios aboard taco trucks that roam the urban sprawl. Affordable, portable, and filling, tacos fit the bill at pretty much any meal, from breakfast tacos loaded with eggs to savory carne asada or fish tacos at lunch and dinner. And don't forget the late-night greasy pleasure of finding a taco truck on the corner as you emerge from a bar or club! In recent years, some of the city's most renowned chefs have used the taco as canvas for their art. The upscale-taco trend has led to a multicultural taco renaissance of sorts; tortillas are now filled with everything from Korean short ribs to Baja-style fried fish to fresh market vegetables. These five spots are turning the page on taco history.
Petty Cash Taqueria
Farm-to-taco? Yes. This rockin' taqueria sources its produce from organic farmers’ markets and its own rooftop garden. It also has quite the chefly pedigree: Walter Manzke is known for his work at celebrated French restaurants in town, and his creative tacos—from char-grilled octopus to pork-belly carnitas—reflect his foodie sensibility.
Born in Boyle Heights, a historically Mexican-American enclave, this taco chainlet serves up rustic corn tortillas filled with a variety of guisados (braises), which are staples in traditional Mexican homes. Offerings change frequently, but keep an eye out for tender flank steak simmered in salsa roja or pork rinds in salsa verde.
This gourmet truck serves up tacos "guerilla" style, meaning the menu and the location are always a surprise. The choices depend on what's freshest at the daily farmers’ market, but expect creations like sweet potato-leek or braised oxtail tacos at lunch, and egg-bacon tacos with chili de arbol at breakfast.
Ricky's Fish Taco
The Baja-style fish and shrimp tacos at Ricky's have a cult following. That might have something to do with the addictive golden batter that enrobes the seafood and imparts a seasoned crunch. Ricky's truck sets up shop in East Hollywood for only a handful of hours a day; check Twitter for updates!
Though it started as a food truck, this fusion taco purveyor has expanded into two different brick-and-mortar café spaces due to the high demand for its internationally minded tacos. Fillings hop the map from Singaporean-style shrimp to Indonesian shredded pork to Italian sausage. There’s also an all-American deconstructed bacon cheeseburger taco.