TEAM TACO: BEST HIDDEN GEMS IN LA

By LA CANVAS
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So, it’s the Teamwork Issue, and we could have bored you with pairings. But then we thought, “Hey—it’s summer, summer in LA!” and realized it would be sacrilegious to deliver anything other than a taco roundup. A matter of civic pride and a de facto dietary staple, tacos are a cross-genre crowd-pleaser, gutturally satisfying to every Angeleno. It wasn’t easy, but we powered down our user-friendly, fascist laptops a little early and did a little research. Someone had to.

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EAST LA | TACOS BAJA ENSENADA


You either frequent this spot on Whittier Blvd. or have been planning to. Tacos Baja Ensenada has a well-deserved rep for having the town’s best fish and beer-battered shrimp tacos. There’s a consistent line out the door, but worth the wait.

WHAT TO GET: Fresh and festive, cop the Fish Taco and top it with “chiles gueros,” seasoned roasted yellow peppers from the bar. Be advised—everything here is seafood, and they’re not stingy with the salsa. And when the festivities of Taco Tuesdays come to a close, don’t be discouraged—Baja Ensenada offers $1 fish tacos on Wednesdays too.

 

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MID-CITY | LEO’S TACO TRUCK


Leo’s Taco Truck is marvelously stationed on Venice Blvd. and La Brea Ave., adjacent to a 76 gas station—fill up your tank and your stomach in just one stop. The business is in operation seven days a week, from T-shirt time until 3 AM during the week and 4 AM on weekends.

WHAT TO GET: Like any self-respecting taco truck, Leo’s is cash only, folks. Priced at just $1, the Al Pastor is their most popular item, kept moist with sliced pineapple and a subtle hint of spice. Leo’s also boasts a full condiment bar, but chances are you probably wont even need it.

 

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DOWNTOWN | MARISCOS JALISCO


Meandering around the Fashion District getting you hangry? The big white truck with blue and red letters spelling “Mariscos Jalisco” can be spotted even without your Oliver Peoples Warby Parkers. Just bordering Boyle Heights, Mariscos Jaliscos proudly serves up some of the city’s most savory, hearty, seafood tacos.

WHAT TO GET: The taco de camaron is a seafood enthusiast’s dream come true, filled with fried shrimp and spicy sauce, fried again, and topped with avocado and even more red sauce. Oysters and octopus are also on the menu, in a cocktail or on a tostada. Make it a threesome—you can have whatever you liiiiiiike. 

 

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EAST LA | LOS CINCO PUNTOS

Carnitas for the count! This eastside gem is a neighborhood grocer, a local lunch haunt, and a cheap dinner pick-up all rolled into one. You might want to wear stretchy pants; portions here are as big as the taste. Extra points for the hand-made tortillas (we watched). Get there early, these guys close at 6pm.

WHAT TO GET: Los Cinco Puntos gives you your choice of cut by the pound. You might also want to grab a burrito, quesadilla, or taco instead to fill their homemade tortillas, and garnish it with pickled nopales and an awesome red salsa. Or, you can live a little. One word: chicharones. 

 

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BOYLE HEIGHTS | GUISADOS


At Guisados, it’s all about the meat. Well, it’s also about their grilled vegetables and freshly patted, corn tortillas too. You might discover a thin slice of avocado, a few pickled spicy onions, but that’s pretty much it. These guys let the quality of their ingredients speak for themselves. Parking struggles keeping you away? Fear not—a second location in Echo Park should quell those hunger pangs, and there’s a 3rd under construction in DTLA.

WHAT TO GET: Our vote goes to the sampler plate. Made with six mini-tacos, each one is filled with a savory meat or vegetable, surrounded by one of their famous handmade tortillas.

 

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ECHO PARK | BELLEVUE STEAKHOUSE


La Movidita, affectionately dubbed The Bellevue Steakhouse by locals, almost didn’t make our list. You see, this place is such a gem that we were reluctant to give it away. But alas, your gain is our crux—the woes of journalism be damned. Initially a taco stand on Bellevue Ave., this taco purveyor has since moved to a dimly lit garage farther up the street (ask a local). Get your asada fix Thursday through Sunday evenings, rain or shine.

WHAT TO GET: The real claim to fame is the suadero taco. At just $1.25, this taco is meaty, rich, and absolutely delicious. Top it off with one of four (or go big and try ‘em all) of their salsa offerings, or some pickled onions and chopped habaneros.

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