Taco the Town

8 of the best (let the debate begin)

If L.A. had an official food, it'd have to be the taco. Portable, delicious, and found on just about every corner in town, the taco is the subject of infinite variation, endless debate and fervent love. Here are eight of the best this city has to offer.

Leo's Tacos, Eagle Rock

Head to the corner of La Brea and Venice Blvd. any night of the week and you'll find an abnormally large crowd of people hanging out at a gas station. They're not there for unleaded; they're lined up for the city's best al pastor tacos ($1) served directly from the trompo (vertical spit) with a little slice of pineapple on top.

Guisados, Boyle Heights

No list of the best tacos in L.A. is complete without a mention of this burgeoning mini-empire (their new Downtown location is slated to open in early July). The namesake braised meats are served on handmade tortillas ($2.50). Order the sampler ($6.50) and rest easy knowing you didn't miss a thing.

Ricky's Fish Tacos, East Hollywood

Authentic Ensenada-style fish tacos are hard to come by in this town, but Ricky Piña's got you covered. What started as a makeshift cart was upgraded to a full-on food truck last December, and the crispy, golden fish ($3) and shrimp tacos ($3.50) are as good as ever. Just check Twitter to know where to find them.

Guerrilla Tacos, Arts District

Taco trucks don't often get reviewed in the L.A. Times, but then most taco truck chefs weren't trained by Alain Ducasse. Wes Avila's ever-changing lineup of gourmet offerings ($4 to $6) was lauded by none other than Jonathan Gold himself, who has anointed Guerrilla as something of an elegant tasting menu taco joint on wheels.

Mexicali Taco & Co., Chinatown

It may be cheating to call the vampiro ($4) a taco, but this quesadilla clone is close enough to make the cut. Gooey white cheese and your choice of chorizo, carne asada or chicken is combined with enough garlic to ruin any date. But who needs love when you've got a vampiro?

Tacos Punta Cabras, Santa Monica

You've got four choices for tacos here (shrimp, fish, scallop, tofu), but what the place lacks in variety it more than makes up in flavor. Try the tender bay scallops ($3.50), their super-thin jacket of batter tucked between a citrusy cabbage slaw and a house-made tortilla. Add a dose of their pineapple habañero salsa and you'll swear there's nothing better.

Coni'Seafood, Inglewood

Have you ever had a marlin taco? They're meatier than you'd expect. And while the marlin isn't much to look at, you won't care after your first bite of smokey, cheese-covered goodness. They're definitely not on the menu at Taco Bell, but if you head down to Inglewood you can catch a plate of three for $10.

Los Cinco Puntos, Boyle Heights

This OG taco shop in Boyle Heights is the real deal. Sure, you could order your meat by the pound and construct the tacos yourself at home, but with just-made tortillas crisping on the flattop, who can wait that long? Get 'em here ($2.19) filled with your choice of meat and served with the doting affection of the abuelas behind the counter.