Tacos are the soul food of Los Angeles. And everyone’s got favorites.
When we polled our network of friends and folks we’ve featured to name theirs, the responses were pretty familiar and notable — Guerrilla (sweet potato), Leo’s (carne asada), Guisados (everything).
But rather than doing a greatest hits (that’s been done), we thought we’d focus on the most recent additions to L.A.’s storied taco canon.
Inside, we dogear six new restaurants — in a variety of neighborhoods — that every taco aficionado must try.
That means you won’t have to cross town to get your hands on one.
But you’ll want to — for these.
Noteworthy Taco: Octopus, hands down
Why: Chef Gilberto Cetina, Jr. (Chichen Itza fame) braises small bits of octopus and places them in a squid ink rice that’s almost the texture of risotto but with a subtle umami on a house-made tortilla, natch.
The other thing you order: Cocteles, which is like a cold shrimp cocktail but better
The situation: Lunch; it’s a stand in the Mercado la Paloma.
3655 South Grand Avenue #C9 (map)
Cascabel Taco Shop
Noteworthy Taco: Braised short rib
Why: The succulent beef is placed on top of whipped plantains so it’s like a lighter version of meat and potatoes. Plus the grapefruit is a nice touch.
The other thing you order: Choco taco!
The situation: A fast casual lunch or dinner that’s also a gut bomb
4005 Riverside Drive (map)
Noteworthy Taco: Swordfish
Why: Normally, we don’t go for swordfish — worms (Anthony Bourdain) and mercury (capitalism) — but this is grilled swordfish on a warm blue corn tortilla makes us reconsider that.
The other thing that you order: Peach margarita
The situation: Par-taaaaay
118 Entrada Drive (map)
Noteworthy Taco: Al pastor
Why: It’s premium, sweet pork grilled over wood and dressed simply with burnt pineapple.
The other thing that you order: The beet salad is pretty amazing, but this post is about giving you the cravings so the carne asada fries; that’s french fries covered in steak and cheese.
The situation: Day drinking
2490 Fletcher Drive (map)
Noteworthy Taco: Beer battered fish
Why: It’s crunchy and fresh and topped with a delicious caesar salad.
The other thing that you order: The cinnamon watermelon aqua fresca.
The situation: Lunch break
728 S. Olive Street (map)
Noteworthy Taco: Chicken
Why: The chicken is spicy and tender, but it’s the way that the cotija melts to the flour tortilla, combined with the guac and the beans, that makes this taco stand out.
The other thing that you order: The mushroom taco — one of the best vegetarian tacos in L.A.
The situation: Lunch break or early dinner before catching the Metro to a concert downtown (that’s a thing).. It’s located in The Platform, a stylish mixed-use development on the Metro line that looks like an assemblage of shipping containers.
8830 Washington Blvd. (map)