The Five Best Tacos In The West

5 can't-miss tacos in California

If you're not a fan of tacos, you may be loco. California is home to some of the country's best. Herewith, a fistful of delicious west coast options that will make your masa dreams come true.

Mariscos German Beyer, San Diego

This famed taco truck serves the West Coast masses their daily fix. Waiting for tacos is easier with free handouts, and MGB doesn't disappoint: The homemade seafood consomme tides you over and whets your appetite for what's to come. Fish tacos are the name of the game, and options abound. Tacos Gobernador (Governor's Tacos) surprise with hints of smoked paprika, bay, oregano and tomato paste. For those of you who need a meat fix, arrachera con camaron—aka surf and turf—delivers the best of both worlds.

Mariscos Jalisco, L.A.

This standby in Boyle Heights has a reputation for serving the best fried shrimp tacos in town—and it lives up to the hype. Sidle up to the truck and prepare yourself for a throwdown: Mariscos fries its shrimp taco whole, tortilla and all. The resulting crispy shell masks whole shrimp; the lot is doused with salsa and avocado, and is as messy to eat as it sounds (and worth every stain). Soda and water are necessary to counteract the fiery salsas; brown-bag a brewski if you're feeling frisky.

Short Ribs Tacos with California Avocado Aioli

Now through September, get creamy and delicious California avocados. Take advantage of this local fresh produce and make Short Ribs Tacos with California Avocado Aioli (see the recipe). Look for the California label when you're buying avocados. Get more avocado recipes.

Tacos Cala, San Francisco

Located around the back alley of Cala, one of SF's best new restaurants of 2015, Tacos Cala is Gabriela Cámara's delicious (and affordable) love letter to the tacos de guisado (stewed and braised meat and veg) of her Mexico City home. Tortillas are made in-house, naturally, and masa is ground on-site. The tight menu changes often but is always delicious: On any given day, find chicken in chipotle, slow-roasted carrots and wilted greens, and braised oxtail and potatoes, to name a few. You'd be remiss not to add a slow-cooked egg to the mix. Cut the richness with a selection of agua frescas, from piquant Jamaica (hibiscus) to seasonal carrot ginger citrus.

El Molino Central, Sonoma

Located in Sonoma (Boyes Hot Springs, to be precise), the specialty here is masa. Molino is Spanish for "mill," and El Molino stone grinds its own organic kernels daily, as evidenced in the grain-flecked tacos and tamales. Attention to ingredients goes beyond the grain, so to speak: Everything is fresh and local, and organic whenever possible. The menu changes seasonally, but you can never go wrong with Bohemia beer-battered fish tacos swathed in avocado-lime mayo and salsa de arbol.

Pro tip: It's worth trying to make it in before 11 a.m. for the chilaquiles. Yes, they're that good.

Chando's, Sacramento

Masa runs through the veins of the family behind Chando's. Homemade corn tortillas stuffed with locally sourced fillings run the gamut from light to gut-busting. Get your tilapia marinated and char-broiled, or fried crisp in beer batter; achiote- and citrus-marinated chicken is offset by a charred exterior and limy guacamole. Rich, slow-braised tacos de guisado, a family recipe, are also available—try the pork adobada or the birria for a treat. And while it might not be traditional, Chando's offers butter-lettuce-wrapped versions for carb-conscious diners.