1. La Önica Tacos y Birria in Los Angeles
Numerous entities exist solely to assist tourists in navigating the city’s finest taco establishments, as Los Angeles is the preeminent Mexican metropolis in the United States. Tacos y Birria La Única, a family-owned business that gained notoriety for its catering services to John Legend and Chrissy Teigen, subsequently grew to support two trucks in the Boyle Heights and Mid City districts of Los Angeles (according to LA Taco).
The local establishment is renowned for its delectable consomé and formidable birria. Although goat meat is the traditional ingredient for adobo-marinated and stewed meat, beef has become the most common substitute in the United States due to the country’s enormous livestock industry. The current demand for high-quality birria has compelled even El Pollo Loco to provide it for a restricted duration. Although La ânica does offer birria made with both beef and goat meat, let’s be honest: you desire authenticity. Proceed goat-like. The food truck serves tacos with only cilantro and scallions as toppings, but it also offers an extensive selection of salsas and more elaborate dishes like vampiros and quesatacos. It should be noted that La única, as stated on its official website, only accepts cash payments.
2. Simón Mexican Seafood in Silver Lake, California
Chef Francisco Aguilar refined his expertise in every aspect of Mexican gastronomy, from the sophisticated establishments of Oaxaca’s fine dining scene to the traditional family formulas of rural Chiapas (according to LA Taco). Currently, his royal blue truck Simón is causing a stir in the Los Angeles dining scene with its experimental and frequently elaborate seafood fare.
His recipes generally commence with tacos mariscos, which are traditional fare from the southwestern coastal states of Mexico. However, they soon descend into elaborate culinary excursions. Chef Aguilar is unafraid to approach his ever-changing menu as “a playground in my head,” as evidenced by his daring creations such as tie-dye-looking tortillas and original al pastor prepared with grilled pineapple and fish. Traditional carne asada is available at Simón, and according to the Los Angeles Times, it serves as an ideal foundation from which to sample the technicolor house-made salas, including one made with chicharrones. Considering that Simón presently resides at the Sunset Triangle Plaza in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles, this meal would be ideal for exploring the neighboring farmer’s market.
3. Jalisco Mariscos in Los Angeles
Mariscos Jalisco is a restaurant chain that operates in various dine-in and truck settings. The establishment specializes solely in seafood and is particularly well-known for its skillful preparation of tacos and dorados, which feature tortillas fried to a golden exterior and are considered the progenitor of all hard-shelled tacos. Mariska Teigen, who adored the truck after seeing it featured in David Chang’s “Ugly Delicious” in 2018, lavished similar acclaim on Mariscos Jalisco as she did on Tacos y Birria La Única. Teigen was compelled to forego the Oscars in order to locate the truck.
Although the truck’s taco dorado de Camarones, which consists of shrimp and potato, is the most favored, the Poseidon, a tostada incorporating shrimp ceviche, avocado, octopus, and scarlet agua chile, ranks second in importance. To provoke your companions by arbitrarily defining a taco, place an order for the ostiones peinados garnished with cilantro, shrimp, octopus, and octopus, and contend that the half oyster shell qualifies as a taco shell just as a large folded Dorito does.
4. Chori-Man is located in San Pedro, California.
Chorizo is a traditional yet frequently neglected ingredient for tacos. Chori-Man, as its name implies, is an authority on chorizo, providing “soyrizo” variations made with poultry, pork, and vegetarian ingredients. The culinary establishment draws inspiration from Zacatecas, Toluca, and Argentina, as evidenced by a dish featuring fennel, garlic, and a trace of wine.
Nevertheless, its most renowned item is the Tolucan Green Chorizo, which is frequently requested with tacos. Chorizo is presently only available for purchase by the burrito or by the pound on The Chori-Man’s website and mobile ordering platform. Obtaining a Chori-Man taco requires a direct walk-in, which is about as “street” as it gets for a physical location. As a result of the fact that Chori-Man also distributes its product via wholesale, numerous restaurants in the vicinity serve its renowned product in street taco form. And if you’re still hungry after three to four chorizo tacos in the morning, Chori-Man’s breakfast burritos, particularly when filled with maple habanero chorizo, have received rave reviews on Yelp.
5. Lone Star Taco Bar
Although Los Angeles may be the epicenter of the taco scene (and this list), that has not prevented the emergence of phenomenal taquerias that are gaining recognition worldwide. There have been Mexican-American settlements in the United States. Regarding excellent beef barbacoa served on a maize tortilla, New Englanders are pleasantly not abandoned.
Prominently featured on Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives,” Lone Star was established by a group of immigrants from Southern California and Texas to the Boston area. These individuals introduced premium beef barbacoa and traditional pickled red onions to New England. Barbacoa is conventionally prepared using goat (although beef is occasionally used as a substitute, as in the case of birria). It is cooked slowly (with a capital SLOW) in a pit crowned with agave leaves that are dug for this purpose. The culinary technique in question can be traced back to the Taíno people, an indigenous people of the Caribbean, prior to the Western world became acquainted with the word “barbaca” and subsequently translating it into the Spanish “barbacoa” and finally the English “barbecue.” Lone Star honors the tradition by marinating, smoking, and braising its beef for several days in order to attain the highest quality barbacoa.
6. La Fachada, San Diego
San Diego is Los Angeles’s closest competitor in terms of its vast and extensive taco culture, and the rustic La Fachada is located in the upper end of the city’s Logan Heights neighborhood. La Fachada’s Yelp page features an astounding number of five-star ratings. It is nearly venerated by the residents and a popular late-night destination due to its extremely long hours (weekdays until 3 a.m., weekends around the clock).
Primarily, it is genuine; its adherence to a traditional assortment of taco meats serves as a constant reminder that the taco is a culinary creation emblematic of the working class. Invented by individuals who required a portable meal suitable for a day of labor, tacos were initially developed exclusively for street vending while under intense pressure to extract the maximum flavor, nutritional value, and value from every available ingredient. La Fachada provides two ubiquitous U.S. ingredients, namely lengua (beef cheeks and tongue) and cabeza, which are not commonly found in more assimilated U.S. taquerias. These two components are present in birria, carne asada, and carnitas.
7.Tacos el Gordo in San Diego and Las Vegas
Tacos el Gordo, an additional thriving establishment in San Diego, has grown from its initial site to seven locations, which are distributed among the cities of Las Vegas and San Diego. While the family-owned and operated business commenced operations in the United States in 1998, the Rojas family has more than four decades of experience in the restaurant industry.
The proprietors have not allowed the success of their American fast food mini-chain to deviate them from the core principles of Tijuana-style tacos. The salsas and guacamole continue to be freshly prepared on a daily basis, while the meat selection continues to feature tripa, cabeza, buche (pork stomach), lengua, and beef suadero (brisket). A popular highlight is the carne asada lathered in guacamole, while the Aztec taco incorporates barbecued cactus, a regional delicacy that is notably scarce in taquerias in the United States. Feel free to sample from across the menu, as Tacos el Gordo continues the tradition of offering tacos as a small, economical snack that is intended to be ordered in multiples to constitute a meal.
8. Milpas, Las Cuatro, San Diego
While Tacos el Gordo is revered as the hometown champion and La Fachada is a familiar neighborhood haunt, Las Cuatro Milpas is regarded as an elder statesman and local legend within the taco scene of San Diego. Situated in Barrio Logan, San Diego, the restaurant has maintained its location since 1933. Despite this, lines frequently snake around the block, and residents continue to rave on Yelp that the wait is well worth it.
Frozen tacos, whether folded as tacos dorados or rolled prior to frying to form a crisp flute-shaped exterior, are its area of expertise. One might identify these as “flauta” or “taquito.” Considering the historical origins of the term “taquito” in Southern California, there is no justification for patrons of Las Cuatros to belittle one another by requesting a “rolled taco.” As with many of these family-owned, time-honored businesses, Las Cuatro Milpas accepts only cash; therefore, it is advisable to arrive well-prepared so that you do not have to hasten to an ATM following the forty-five-minute wait.
9. Aqui es Texcoco
Aqui es Texcoco, which has establishments in both the original Tijuana location and the two taco Meccas in the United States (Los Angeles and San Diego counties), is renowned for its barbacoa de borrego (lamb barbacoa). The restaurant’s founding family takes great pride in honoring the history of the underground slow-roasted sheep.
Francisco “Paco” Perez, a “second-generation barbacoa master” recognized by Los Angeles Magazine, owns the restaurant “Aqui,” whose name proclaims “Here is Texcoco” and challenges the notion that it can deliver lamb barbacoa comparable to that found in the heart of central Mexico, more than 1,700 miles away. Taste Atlas includes Aqui ex Texcoco as the sole American establishment on their enumeration of the world’s finest barbacoa establishments. Paco himself demonstrated the restaurant’s use of the authentic pit-based cooking technique in Episode 2 of Season 2 of “Bizarre Foods America.” The establishment has received accolades and acclaim from celebrity chefs and food critics including Rachel Ray and Andrew Zimmern.
10. San Jeronimo
Although Los Angeles and San Diego, both of which were formerly Mexican territories, are widely recognized as the epicenters of street tacos from the United States, it is unsurprising that Mexican-American communities in other regions are also producing exceptional cuisine.
An influx of Mexican immigrants into Staten Island over the past two decades has fostered a thriving community that serves authentic and marvelous Mexican cuisine, notwithstanding the skepticism expressed in 1980s Pace salsa advertisements. San Jeronimo, originally a deli and modest grocery store, has since grown to include a bakery and a full-service Mexican restaurant. The tacos segment of the menu features fillings that are uncommon in American sit-down establishments but are occasionally available at Mexican vendors. Among these are pork suadero, tripa, and calabaza, which are vegetarian alternatives consisting of zucchini and chiles or tripa, respectively. San Jeronimo is commended for its commitment to regional authenticity and the incorporation of vegetarian options, which further enhance its regional representation.