THE 18 MOST ESSENTIAL TACOS IN LOS ANGELES

Los Angeles is arguably the center of taco activity in the United States. These places are arguably the center of taco activity in Los Angeles. See them all on a map here: http://la.eater.com/maps/best-tacos-los-angeles-map-18
  1. 1.
    Tire Shop Taqueria
    This humble taco stand has risen to become one of the most compelling places in Los Angeles. Nestled in a used tire shop, faithful taqueros grill thin cuts of steak over mesquite and charcoal, then chop up meats to order. Even better, thin, pliant tortillas are pressed fresh to order, while the taquero finishes off every taco with guacamole and salsas. This Tijuana style taco is a supreme example of the kind of excellence that lands in the streets of Los Angeles.
  2. 2.
    Carnitas el Momo
    Pork is king at Carnitas El Momo, the rangy truck and stand operators who are currently cooking up some of the city’s best puerco. Forget the usual shredded bites of pork shoulder you usually associate with carnitas; El Momo does the whole pig, and it’s worth eating your way around to find the bite that works best for you.
  3. 3.
    Tacos Leo
    The al-pastor creations at this bustling Mid-City taco truck might one some of the most celebrated tacos in LA, and for good reason. Sliced from either an outdoor or indoor spit, the textures and seasoning are unparalleled, and for a mere $1, probably the best cheap taco in the city. Weekends tend to draw lines, but that massive trompo (spit) beckons everyone in. The accessibility to the Westside and Mid-City also makes this a great choice for taco newbies.
  4. 4.
    Guerrilla Tacos
    Wes Avila is doing something special with Guerrilla Tacos, his cart turned truck turned citywide sensation. Despite being in increasingly high demand, Avila’s focus on market-fresh ingredients and top quality, out of the box preparations makes his daily menus shine.
  5. 5.
    Tacos Quetzalcoatl
    A sleeper hit that's still relatively undiscovered, this specialist also makes tortillas to order, though they're a bit larger and slightly thicker. They're all meant to contain things like cecina (salt-cured thinly sliced beef), barbacoa, and even vegetables, which the taquero called "Omega." The salsa bar is also fantastic, deeply flavored and perfectly complementary to the tacos.
  6. 6.
    El Taurino
    This late night taqueria hovering near Koreatown has been a decades long institution for those wanting a cheap, filling bite. An offshoot of the King Taco chain, which popularized taco trucks in the city, El Taurino churns out reliably good tacos, along with burritos and more. It's usually the first place that comes to mind when people think of tacos in LA. While there are certainly better spots now, there's something very satisfying about getting cheap tacos at 3 a.m. after a night of drinking.
  7. 7.
    Aqui es Texcoco
    Barbacoa spots are a dime a dozen in Los Angeles, but true masters of the style come at a premium. The cost here is driving to Commerce, but once those dues are paid, the reward is some of the best lamb barbecue found anywhere.
  8. 8.
    Ricky's Fish Tacos
    Ricky’s has gone from health department scofflaw to one of the city’s shining examples of quality and perseverance. Still serving his unbeatable fish and shrimp Ensenada-style tacos, now from a grey taco truck parked off the street, Ricky’s is doing more business than ever.
  9. 9.
    Tacos Cuernavaca
    This mighty truck in East LA is the production of Juan Martinez and his wife Maria, who draw inspiration from the city of Cuernavaca in Morelos. Fusing techniques he learned from high-energy kitchens, Martinez makes amazing alambres, battleship tacos, and cecina. And if you're really in for a treat, try the ilegal, which is loaded with bacon-wrapped shrimp and whole lobster tail.
  10. 10.
    Flor del Rio
    Sunday morning birria is a long-standing tradition in Los Angeles, and the composed plates here might be one of the best in town. The stewed goat is presented on its own, or in a pool of cooking soup called consomme, which also comes on the side. Assemble a taco, load up with toppings like onions, salsa, and cilantra, then dip right into the consomme.
  11. 11.
    Mexicali Taco & Co.
    Sonoran-style grilled asada rarely gets its due in Los Angeles, making Mexicali more than a specialist; they’re champions of the genre. Once a late night street stand grilling beef over charcoal, these former Taco Madness winners have turned in recent years to a small shack just north of Chinatown proper, where their garlicky vampiro quesadilla reigns supreme.
  12. 12.
    Tacos Los Guichos
    South LA has a tremendous late night taco scene, but few can match the excellence of Tacos Los Guichos, which has a duo of swirling trompos to slice through pounds and pounds of al pastor for the locals. Make a trek out to Slauson and just east of the 110 freeway, and marvel at the production here. During the weekend mornings, they'll also produce some of the best carnitas in town, all from a large pot.
  13. 13.
    Guisados
    Guisados remains on many favorite taco lists for one reason: vision. After all these years and multiple new locations, the Guisados team still shows off the same drive and talent as before, offering stewed and braised meats on top of pliant, handmade tortillas that will change the way you think about the tortillas you’ve been buying at the grocery store.
  14. 14.
    Kogi BBQ
    This Korean-Mexican fusion might have launched a thousand other food trucks, but its style and consistency make it worthy of inclusion. Roy Choi masterfully blends Korean meats with delicious salsas onto tacos, burritos, and quesadillas. Though the initial popularity has waned a bit, the roving trucks still draw modest crowds when they show up on street corners.
  15. 15.
    La Flor de Yucatan
    L.A.’s Pico-Union is a hotbed of great Mexican food, perhaps none more prominent than La Flor de Yucatan. A combined bakery, restaurant, and catering service, this smallish shop pushes out plates of pre-Hispanic Mayan delicacies that are still relevant today, like regional favorites cochinita pibil and panuchos.
  16. 16.
    Los Cinco Puntos
    Los Cinco Puntos is more than a local legend, it’s a neighborhood mainstay. Standing tall at a five way intersection near the border of Boyle Heights and East L.A., this half-century old shop produces pounds and pounds of carnitas every day for takeout, along with holiday tamales and lots of fresh tortillas. On weeknights, they’re crafting the meals that literally feed their community.
  17. 17.
    Loteria Grill
    Jimmy Shaw’s Mexico City heritage has served him well at Loteria Grill, the Original Farmers Market stall turned citywide phenomenon. Shaw was doing the sort of straightforward taco plates that Guisados would eventually emulate, just years before. Tacos and taquitos are still the order of the day at Loteria, which has helped to revamp a once-struggling tourist trap into a worthwhile culinary destination.
  18. 18.
    Tito's Tacos
    Crunchy tacos. Though most of Americn might picture this as a taco, it's mainly a cherished part of nostalgia here in LA. Though there are other crunchy and even puffy taco specialists, none has had the lasting impact of Tito's (well, except one Taco Bell in Downey and its progenitor, Mitla Cafe, in San Bernardino). Still made with fresh ingredients, the affordable crunchy tacos at Tito's draw some major lines every day. Try the bean and cheese burrito, or the tamales, for something different.
  19. 19.
    Yuca's
    The original shack in the liquor store parking lot. It proudly displays it's (worthy) James Beard award and delivers consistent deliciousness.
    Suggested by   @stevensodeyburp