We love tacos in pretty much any form—from fresh fish to fatty chicharrones, and even the occasional hard-shell, fast-food iteration. We're not choosy. L.A. is one of the best places to be if you love tacos—there are literally thousands of options and, as the L.A.-based food critic Jonathan Gold says, "A perfect taco is a gift to the universe." We couldn't agree more. Here are 10 of our favorite taco places in Los Angeles that are, in our opinion, as close to perfect as it gets:
What to order: Yellowtail Tuna Tostada with Uni
Background: Founded in 2012 by Wes Avila, Guerrilla Tacos gained recognition for tacos more similar to something you might find at a fine dining restaurant than out of a truck—but the mash-up between inventive, fresh ingredients and a classic L.A. medium are what have made them so popular (Read: Expect a line).
Notes: They often have vegetarian options available like sweet potato and, when in season, squash blossom. Look out for their daily specials like lamb quesadillas.
What to order: Classic, pineapple-topped al pastor
Background: In the past five years, Leo's has already expanded from one small truck to four locations. On any given Saturday night, you'll find long lines and crowds of people around their al pastor station in the parking lot of a gas station on La Brea Avenue.
Notes: Worth going just to watch them carve the al pastor. Great for late-night tacos.
What to order: Everything
Background: It only took Guisados four years to expand from its modest stand in Boyle Heights to four locations spanning the city. Their stews and masa are still made and delivered from Boyle Heights though, so the closer you are to that location, the better.
Notes: Their Echo Park location is BYOB so grab a six-pack from Sunset Beers before heading in. Order at least one of their chorizo quesadillas.
What to order: Shrimp tacos
Background: Co-owned by three sons of a taqueria-owner from Guadalajara, Taqueria Los Anaya is the real deal. We also had no problem getting behind their family motto, "A plate is never too full!"
Notes: It's one of the only sit-down taco spots on this list (Tlayuda is the other). The shrimp in their shrimp taco is breaded so it holds a good crunch, which is unique.
What to order: Carnitas and birria (goat's meat) tacos
Background: Nestled into a stall in the ever-changing Grand Central Market downtown, Tacos Tumbras a Tomas has been around for two decades and serves over 1,000 servings of carnitas every day. Their secret may be out, but they're just as good as they ever were.
Notes: Each taco holds at least three taco's worth. It's an old-school family institution.
What to order: Sweet and saucy chicken mole tacos
Background: Named after a classic Oaxacan dish that consists of a large, partially -fried tortilla topped with refried beans, lettuce, avocado, and meat, tllayudas are not the only thing Tllayuda does well. Their Oaxacan-style tacos—notably their mole—are rich and delicious, and the people who work there are ridiculously friendly and quick to provide a recommendation, should you hesitate to order the chicken mole tacos.
Notes: Most of the Oaxacan-style tacos are topped with avocado. The handmade tortillas alone are worth the stop.
What to order: Carne asada tacos
Background: From the outside, their flashy location on Broadway in Glendale looks the most like a "fast-food chain" of the options here, which wouldn't be an unfair conclusion to jump to. Thirty years after launching from a converted ice cream truck, they have 20 locations, but haven't lost their authenticity.
Notes: They carry nose-to-tail tacos (Think: tongue). Their green salsa is more complex and interesting than what you'll find at most places (though it's difficult to put a finger on exactly why it's so good).
What to order: Tacos de camaron (shrimp)
Background: A favorite of Jonathan Gold, Mariscos Jalisco is best known for their seafood, which comes in all forms, from freshly shucked oysters, to ceviche, and seafood tacos.
Notes: The shrimp taco is barely fried so that the outside of the tortilla is crispy but the inside is soft. It isn't overwhelmingly shrimpy, so opt for their ceviche if you want a seafood kick.
What to order: Tacos de papa (lightly-fried potato tacos)
Background: Its close proximity to several bars makes El Atacor the perfect spot for a heavy late-night meal. If you aren't feeling like tacos, their Super Burrito will feed about five hangry men (okay, that may be an exaggeration, but it is enormous).
Notes: Starchy, but satisfying when drenched in salsa. Great for late-night (especially once you've had a cerveza or two).
What to order: Suadero tacos (a thin cut of beef)
Background: This stand, which is really just a table under string lights, doesn't actually have a name—instead, "Avenue 26" refers to its location. It's also one of a decreasing number of stands to still serve $1 tacos.
Notes: Don't miss the red onions, which are marinated in house-made hot sauce. Grab a taco, then balance it on your car's hood, which you'll see the rest of the crowd that gathers here around 5 PM doing as well.