Los Angeles Travel Guide

How to Explore LA’s Food Scene in 10 Tacos

All Photos Courtesy Of Meg Butler

What should you eat when in LA? Let's taco 'bout it.

There are tons of things to eat in Los Angeles, but there’s nothing more iconic than the food this city does better than anyone else: tacos.

From North African fusion to backyard cookout famous al carbon, this is where the world’s best flavors come to make it big. Check out this tortilla walk of fame to get the best taste of the flavors the City of Angels has to offer.

PHOTO: Meg Butler
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Guisados’ tacos are the supergroup of Mexican culinary traditions. The tacos here aren’t from one particular part of Mexico but feature the centuries-old flavors from most of the culinary regions south of the border.

The result is like trying all of Mexico’s best tacos in just a few bites.

What to Order:

The mole poblano. Simmered for hours, it stars startlingly rich, chocolate-dark flavors. Pair it with a taco from the other end of the spectrum, pork cohinita, tender shredded loin stewed in a symphony of rich, bright spices.

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Guerilla Tacos 

Unapologetically bougie, Guerilla Tacos is a taco truck turned brick and mortar that serves haute taco cuisine. You never know what you’re going to find here: wild boar tacos, Dungeness crab quesadillas, and Hamachi tuna tostadas are all fair game.

The lineup changes all the time, but they’re all the brainchildren of Wes Avila, a classically-trained chef who likes to play with flavors that confuse the hell out of his customers.

What to Order:

Literally anything. Everything on the menu is over-the-top but somehow perfect. Take the famous Shrimp a la Diabla: perfectly-cooked crustaceans topped with golden raisins, pine nuts, market greens, and chile del valle. It’s a combination that makes little sense on paper but delivers flavor you usually have to drop $200 on a tasting menu to experience.

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LA’s wokest tacos are inventive fusion creations like pozole tagine, shakshouka breakfast tacos, and chermoula-spiced barbacoa tacos. They’re all served in a cozy Mid City spot with great vibes and photos of revolutionary leaders on the wall.

What to Order:

Everything French-Algerian chef Farid Zadi makes at Revolutionario is worth coming back for (and you should, Chef Zadi doesn’t use a recipe book so everything tastes deliciously different every time) but the duck hash tacos—duck thighs stewed in North African spices paired with blue potatoes—are something you should get every time.

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Flor de Yucatan Bakery

“Tacos in a bakery?” is a natural reaction. But the fact that Flor de Yucatan Bakery’s tacos managed to get famous despite the fact that they’re made in the back corner of a Pico-Union bodega is all the recommendation they need.

What to Order:

Squeeze into this tiny spot to order several traditional culinary hits from Mexico’s Yucatán peninsula like kibbehs, pork cochinita, and jugo de chaya. But be sure to order their most famous dish, the relleno negro taco: turkey that’s stewed in a mixture of spices and chiles and tastes unlike anything you’ve had (unless you’re from the Yucatán peninsula, in which case you already know how good they are).

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Apache’s Carne al Carbon

Los Angeles has a reputation for doing the most, which is…fair. But LA can get real if you know where to go. And for tacos, that place is Apache’s Carne al Carbon.

What to Order:

The menu only has a few items because that’s all it needs. And even that’s too many. Here, everyone keeps coming back for the same thing: the carne al carbon. It features slices of mouth-watering steak grilled right behind the counter a la the thousands of Eastside cookouts it represents. And it’s better than a simple combination of meat and bread has any right to be.

INSIDER TIPAsk for them to sprinkle their housemade chicharrones on top for a secret menu item that will take these tacos to another level.


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Tacos Arabes

These tacos came to Los Angeles by way of the middle east via Pueblo, Mexico and are a shwarma/taco fusion that tastes just like it sounds: like two of the world’s best street foods had a delicious baby. The meat at Tacos Arabes is slow-roasted on a spit which means that the truck doesn’t open until 6 pm, but it’s more than worth the wait.

What to Order:

When you do find yourself at the front of the line, order the tacos de cessina—thinly-pounded spit-roasted beef that’s fried until it’s crisp on the edges and tender in the middle. Pair it with the titular tacos arabes or really anything on the menu but be sure to top it with their toe-curling chipotle sauce that will make you swear off that big box burrito chain forever.

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Home State

Sometimes LA is just as LA as you expect it to be. Home State is the taco spot on this list where you’re most likely to leave with an OverheardLA submission. But, when the tacos are this good, your surroundings don’t matter.

These breakfast tacos made it here from Texas, another Mexico-adjacent melting pot. And they bring with them one of the best flavors from the state: Texas-style brisket, slow-smoked for 12 tenderizing hours and flavored only with salt and pepper.

What to Order:

The pecos, starring their famous brisket paired with organic eggs. And if you’re headed here after burning calories at SoulCycle like everyone else, order two plus a cup of the queso to dip them in.

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Tacos DF

No list of Los Angeles’ taco scene is complete without homage to one of its greatest champions: the late Jonathan Gold. Whether or not you read his poetic reviews that shone a light on some of the city’s most underrated establishments, you should try one of the restaurants he championed: Tacos DF.

What to Order:

This restaurant stars several dishes that take a hell of a recommendation to try, like chicharrón prensado: a taco filled with pressed pigskin stewed in housemade sauces or huitlacoche quesadillas: two tortillas filled with huitlacoche, a corn fungus, and topped with cheese.

Both require a leap of faith but one that your palate will thank you for, even if you didn’t consider yourself a particularly adventurous eater.

Leos Tacos
PHOTO: Meg Butler
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Leo’s Taco Truck

When you’ve done a bar tour of Los Angeles, Leo’s Taco Truck is one of the best cures in the county. They’re cheap (a taco is only a couple of bucks), homestyle and feature some of the city’s best al pastor cooked by professional taqueros from Oaxaca.

What to Order:

The tacos al pastor. They’re filled with thin-cut layers of fire-roasted pork covered in a sweet adobo sauce. And if you’ve had enough to drink to show up in oversized sunglasses and sweats (you’ll fit right in), also order their alambre Hawaiana, a quesadilla that pairs al pastor with pineapple, cheese, peppers, onions, and bacon.

PHOTO: Meg Butler
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Mariscos Jalisco

Mariscos Jalisco‘s camaron tacos are about as far away from traditional taco taste as anything on this list. Filled with a shrimp fritter, it tastes more like har gow than anything south of the border and it’s deep fried making it maybe the most delicious taco this side of any border.

What to Order:

The camaron tacos, duh. They’re the best reminder that Mexico and, by proxy, Los Angeles is more culinarily complex than you realized (and that maybe its time to put the town of Jalisco next on your foodie travel bucket list).