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The Best Taco Trucks in Los Angeles
Whether you're an L.A. native or a recent transplant, delicious tacos are your right and privilege. Some of the best come from loncheros, more commonly known as the humble taco truck, which can usually be found in the parking lots of gas stations, car washes and mini markets all around the city. There are so many, in fact, that it’s hard to know what’s worth pulling over for, so here’s a list of our favorites. As always, leave your own favorites in the comments. Today we're honoring our favorite restaurants on four wheels, so don't forget to check out our guide to food trucks that serve up more than tacos, too.
Chef Wes Avila started with a food cart in 2012 and has been electrifying L.A.'s taco scene with his inventive combinations of high-quality, local ingredients ever since. Guerrilla Taco's seasonal, ever-changing menu goes from meaty to vegetarian and always features the unexpected. Think: summer squash tacos, topped with feta cheese, almond chili, olives and strawberries; or pork shoulder brightened with raw tomatillo chili and pickled stone fruit. Seafood options, like beer-battered shrimp tacos and lobster tostadas, don't miss.
Guerrilla Tacos parks at 826 E. 3rd St. in the Arts District and 6114 Washington Blvd. in Culver City. Check their website for hours. (818) 640-3033
The bright lights and endless list of tasty options (tacos, tortas, alambres, burritos, quesadillas, etc.) at Tacos Cuernavaca might overwhelm you, but you can't really go wrong at this nighttime truck on the border of East L.A. and Montebello. One must is the cecina tacos—thinly sliced, salt-cured beef comes on griddled tortillas, fully dressed with red onions, cilantro and light, savory salsa. Another winner is the chorizo, as greasy-good as it gets, especially when layered on Cuernavaca's giant huaraches, thick masa disks topped with everything that's good in the world. If you eat it there, you can catch up on your telenovelas, which play on a TV attached to the truck.
Tacos Cuernavaca parks at the corner of Whittier Boulevard and Eastmont Avenue. Open every day from 6 pm-4 am. (323) 377-4603
Tacos LeoNights are the best time to hit Tacos Leo, a Mid-City truck that attracts a big, devoted crowd. Not only is the atmosphere lively, but that's also when they bring out the spit, on which layers of pork, made bright red with dried red chiles and achiote paste, are roasted until juicy and shaved off the sides by a guy wielding a large knife. The al pastor is sliced thin and finished with a chunk of pineapple, creating one of the city's simplest and cheapest (only $1!) pleasures. Don't bother with the salsa—just enjoy the flavor.
Tacos Leo parks at 1515 S La Brea Avenue in Mid-City from 9 am-4 pm. They cook their al pastor after 7 pm. (323) 231-5116
Carnitas El Momo
It takes a lot for Bill Esparza, L.A.'s foremost expert on Mexican street food, to call something "the best," but that's exactly how he refers to Carnitas El Momo—and for good reason. Second-generation carnitas artisan and butcher Romulo "Momo" Acosta uses traditional copper pots to cook up sweet, succulent pork in the style of his hometown in Guanajuato, a state in north-central Mexico. They pile the meat so high here that you really only need one taco, but you should have two anyway. They also dress them for you, so beware because the fiery red salsa is full of seeds and dropped with a heavy hand.
Carnitas El Momo parks at various locations. Check their website for schedules. (323) 627-8540
Tacos Los Guichos
Tacos Los Guichos is another of the city's porky champs. Served in the parking lot of a South L.A. window tinting and auto parts shop, these Mexico City-style carnitas are slow-cooked in a stainless steel cazo until they're fall-off-the-bone tender and so, so flavorful. Because Los Guichos doesn't employ the boil-and-fried method, which is far too common in L.A., there's no stringy texture or hard-fried bits to suffer through. The only caveat is that you can only get them on the weekends, and they tend to sell out. If you're adventurous, try the surtida, a luscious gourmet mix of lips, shoulder, ear, rib and other parts.
Tacos Los Guichos parks at 5821 Avalon Boulevard in South Los Angeles on weekends
Raul Ortega's Mariscos Jalisco truck in Boyle Heights serves seafood and only seafood. The menu features good ceviche tostadas and shrimp cocteles, but the star of the show is the formidable tacos de camaron. Stuffed with shrimp, fried whole, and smothered in rich soupy salsa and big slabs of avocado, these tacos are achingly delicious. There's nothing quite like that first bite into the hard shell, which gives way to mushy, meaty insides. Don't fool yourself—you will definitely need two. And some napkins.
Mariscos Jalisco is located at 3040 E. Olympic Boulevard in Boyle Heights; (323) 528-6701. Check Twitter for updates.
Oaxaca on Wheels
A newcomer to the scene is Oaxaca on Wheels. Helmed by Oaxaca native Joel Cruz, this truck pops up around Santa Monica, bringing its regional specialties to the Westside. Along with steamed pork head and tasajo (thinly sliced, grilled beef) tacos, you'll find Tlayudas, large handmade tortillas layered with black beans, pork lard, cabbage, string cheese, tomatoes, avocado and salsa. The chicken mole burrito is giant and impossible to stop eating, and you can even grab a caesar salad with salmon at lunch.
Oaxaca on Wheels parks on Santa Monica Boulevard, between Bundy Drive and Brockton from Avenue most nights. Check their Twitter for schedule updates. (323) 805-3028
Ricky's Fish Tacos
Droves of east Hollywood devotees went into withdrawal when the Ricky's Fish Tacos stand was forced from its N. Virgil Avenue spot a couple of years back. But rest assured, Ricky Piña is now back in his original home, slinging his unrivaled Baja-style fish and shrimp tacos from a truck, where you're guaranteed to find a long line every day at lunchtime. It's definitely worth the wait for that crispy, full-flavor batter fried to golden perfection.
Ricky’s Fish Tacos 1400 North Virgil Avenue in East Hollywood; (323) 906-7290. Check their Facebook page for their schedule.
Tacos El Korita
Tacos El Korita's purple paint job isn't the only thing that makes it notable—it also serves really tasty tacos on handmade corn tortillas. Smokey and sweet, the al pastor has an edge, but the carne asada and chorizo are also top notch. Fans of the East L.A. truck will implore you to try the mulitas, meat and cheese sandwiched between two tortillas, which are griddled until the cheese is melted. Much like your heart when you take your first bite.
Tacos El Korita parks on the corner of East Olympic Boulevard and Herbert Avenue in East L.A.
Taco stands and trucks pop up in Highland Park every night, but the best and most iconic is La Estrella. Having carved out its own little spot on York Boulevard—they even have a permanent sign—this O.G. truck serves the best carne asada, salty and topped with generous helpings of salsa, cilantro and onions, on the northeast L.A. strip. The al pastor and carnitas admittedly don't compete with others on this list, but they certainly do the trick after a night of drinking.
La Estrella parks at York Boulevard at Ave. 54 in Highland Park after 11 am on most days.
Tacos La Fonda (Northwest Corner of Vanowen and Vineland in North Hollywood)
Tacos Tamix (Pico and Westmoreland)
El Matador (N. Western Ave and Lexington in East Hollywood)
Valentina Silva is a freelance writer who edits her own blog Eastside Food Bites. Watch her eat her way through LA on her Instagram.
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