Taco Madness 2009 ~ Taco Tournament


Welcome to the Taco Madness 2009 LA Taco Tournament! After weeks of consultations, we’ve seeded the top 16 taco places around town. If you don’t see your favorite, don’t feel bad– next year we’ll expand to 32 places. Spots were chosen for a combination of taste, fame and authenticity.


UPDATE MARCH 20th: 3 polls still open, the rest are closed. Vote now in the last three!! The last poll closes on Sunday, then on to the SABROCHO!!!!!


The first battle is between East side heavyweight King Taco, and a small west side outpost with two locations, Tacomiendo. Vote below!!

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The second battle is between East LA’s famed fish taco kings Tacos Baja Ensenada, and one of the best taco trucks in town, Tacos El Korita. Vote below!!

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The third first round battle is between Highland Park’s outlets La Estrella, and Echo Park’s popular taco wagon, Tacos Zone.

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The fourth first round battle is between Los Feliz’s family owned Yuca’s, and the two location Loteria Grill. Vote below!!

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The fifth first round battle is between Santa Monica’s most popular taco spot Tacos Por Favor, and the wonderful carnitas of Carnitas Michoacan. Vote below!!

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The sixth first round battle pits the King Taco affiliated El Taurino against the Westside’s best-known (and arguably most controversial) taco stand, Tito’s Tacos.

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In the second to last first round battle, we have the spot many have proclaimed the best in the city, East LA’s famed Cinco Puntos going up against the well-known and respected (especially by the city’s late night crews) Cactus Taqueria. Vote Below!

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In the final round battle, we have the internet sensation Korean fusion taco truck Kogi BBQ going up against the one of the top spots in the valley Tacos El Zorro. Vote Below!

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Comments (63) to “Taco Madness 2009 ~ Taco Tournament”

  1. Have you done a review on Sergio’s Tacos? carnitas is the bomb there.

  2. trippin, wheres los guichos off slauson exit on the 110? Trrrrriiiipinnn….

  3. What about Best Fish Taco in Ensenada on Hillhurst??

  4. ‘miendo (inglewood blvd) deserves far better than an eight seed

  5. What about ‘Tina Tacos on the Music Center Plaza… The Al Pastor…yummm

  6. @kid7: we love Sergio’s and it was one of the “bubble” tacos that didn’t make it this year.

    @queso: I will have to try that one

    @aziz: I love that spot too, but TBE is better and in the same division

    @drnella: ‘miendo rules but it’s tough out there. Plus it’s lesser-known.

    @Taco Gourmet: I have not tried that al pastor, thanks for the reccomend.

  7. los cinco puntos up in east los is my all time fave…..king taco was once my fave, its all about the taste and portions for me. even the tortillas are hecho a mano at 5 points….yo!

  8. I have been living in LA for a long time and I am a taco expert I think Mariela’s taco is better than any of this taco

  9. Where is Macho Tacos on Hollywood & Vermont represented? That place is the go to spot and it’s open 24 – 7.

  10. What about Pinche’s on Sunset? This list is so incomplete.

  11. Gonna have to go with King Taco on this first one. Tacomiendo is good, their fish is better, but King Taco rules with their salsas.

  12. Thanks Matt. Your site is awesome by the way.

  13. When in LBC, Taqueria la Mexicana is a must. Insane Care Asada ($1.10 a taco) & best bean and cheese burrito around.
    On 3200 block of 4th street.

  14. The al pastor at La Taquiza is manna from God.

  15. How about a taco scorecard that we can print out? That way we can all judge from the same criteria.

    EXCELLENT site, btw.

  16. No El Parian? It’s Taco Hunter’s top taco. But I’ll go with the flow….

  17. does no one read the post? have no fear taco lovers..you’re favorite spot will more than likely be on the list next month.

  18. Sky’s Tacos…hands down….Pico & Hauser….
    neighborhood joint that have the best seasoned shells….famous 4 the shrimp tacos…..fresh “sassy” salsa…..now featuring lobster, tilapia & salmon tacos….yum….and the sweet hibiscus drink in the mason jar

  19. Yuca’s has a 2nd location on Hollywood!

  20. i never been to King Taco but i did go to Tacomiendo on the way to Baja Cali from home in State of Jefferson. So good i adapted a recipe in my new little taco book out this fall from Sasquatch Books in Seattle. we went to 7 places in 3 hrs on taco blitzkreig, south from Santa Barbara, into Venice, SaMo, thence south. Nothing but tacos for two weeks. San Vicente was with us al the way. it’s taco geometry, really, you pick a trajectory and strike out and try to do taco justice in the places where you go, looking for little joints, following leads, handpainted lettering in store fronts, station wagons and minivans with crowds around them, taco and tamal slices throwing down, soda pop and fluorescent bulbs. i dug the carve through that slice of SoCal and always look fwd to visiting such taco rich lands. But seriously, try the tacos de ojo in Santa Barbara down by the fwy, name escapes me now.

  21. […] (Food, Taco Tournament) First off, thanks to Mike for finding this. It seems there’s a taco tournament to find the best taco in LA. Here are the 16 places that made it into the […]

  22. @Erich: aight check it out. its a truck spot that opens at night. Its parked inside an auto shop parking lot exactly to your right when you get off slauson; going north on the 110 coming from south bay/harbor area. go late, go hungry and they have a great selection of bootleg DVD’s! a complete night right there.

  23. where is Leos Taco Truck from Eagle Rock! it needs to be there next year!

  24. Titos aint authentic but it is tasty. Sup with La Playita?? that shit is on point

  25. seriously, titos tacos over the el taurino chain!?!?
    it’s some of the best damn al pastor in the city! i can at least vouche for the panorama city locations, though i’ve tried the 11th St and Hoover spot.

    tito’s on the other hand, i tried a few times… it’s good for an american translation of the taco but no comparison. just a strange matchup i suppose.

  26. What about Senor Fish? Best fish tacos in LA. Also Rick’s Tacos in Pasadena is a must-have for next year.

  27. el taco llama in n. hollywood — great asada tacos and it’s in a car wash, so extra pts for ambience. also, the truck at fountain and western is excellent, name on the side says ‘armando’s hot foods’…

  28. My new favorite site!!!!

    Maybe someone could help me. I’ve lost my favorite taco truck (more like a trailer). it used to be on the corner of 3rd and Vermont called El Cuate, Tacos Y Mariscos… but it’s disappeared. Anyone have any clue where it shows up now?

  29. U gueros are outta ur freakin mind! Tito’s specializes in tacos “al carton” that are flavorless and wiggity wiggity wiggity wack. Cinco puntos losing to Cactus goes to show that the majority of ppl voting here are not from East Los or Mexican decent. Seriously, I grew up in Boyle Heights and now live in Hollywood. I know tacos, cabrones, and cinco puntos is the where it’s at. Eat it like a real mexican with nopales (cactus) on it. To be fair, King Taco shouldn’t be in this bracket; not since they made their burritos the size of a taquito and started charging twice the price for them. That’s it.

  30. You gotta be joking, right? King Taco a #1 seed? Cactus a #8?!? Are you writing this from Nebraska?

  31. Have you tried Pinche Tacos on Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood. Its small, but the food is great.

  32. I can’t believe thet Chabelita’s on western is not on here. Dude, seriously the best Taco in L.A.! I’ll will drive from anywhere at anytime just to get one!!!

  33. @Chris taste is not the only criteria. King Taco is the undisputed “most famous” local chain, and one that has grown and grown through the years. Cactus is a personal fave but the selection committee has spoken. Next year we’ll open up the committee and you can apply for a spot. I warn you that the application is several pages long.

  34. YUK! TITO’s, BAH! How did Tito’s Tacos even get in this? Tito’s Tacos is just plain gross and a bad case of the runs waiting to happen. They’ve been busted for serving dog food and horse meat.

  35. now you KNOW its not brown folk doing the voting if Tito’s Tacos is beating El Taurino!!! what a shame.

    how did Tito’s even get on this?!?!?!?!

  36. Where are the Poquito Mas ahi tacos? They are the best, and probably the healthiest. They also make fresh tortillas at the restaurant, and that’s one of the big differences since only a few of these places take the time to do it right.

  37. @Rosa Tito’s was a very controversial selection. It was chosen because of it’s name and place in the taco history. It’s the only “gringo taco” joint on the list. There are a lot of Tito-like places in town, it is a genre of tacos.

  38. Rosa, you’re totally right! I live on the westside near Tito’s, and I’ve been there enough over the years to know that it’s no way near El Taurino. Although, I like King Taco better lately.

    Also, speaking of genre-tacos, Kogi’s not really authentic now, is it? If you’re in the mood for Mexican/Korean, go to El Taurino and look at the people in line. Peace.

  39. @Pete thank you! but authenticity isn’t my only problem with Tito’s, it’s also taste. that meat? yuck!

    I really think nostalgia might be reason people return to that place. that, or they’re too lazy to drive across town to get the good stuff.

  40. Sky’s Gourmet Tacos on Pico are really incredible. Maybe the best taco I’ve ever had.

  41. […] Very excited to see this LA taco shop throwdown. I’m gonna have to at least hit up the “Elite Eight”. Cast your vote and participate in the “madness” at LA TACO » Taco Madness 2009 […]

  42. […] March Madness Is Here Enough about sports. It’s time to settle who can claim the title of Best Taqueria in Los Angeles. […]

  43. Tito’s tacos over El Taurino? Silly white folks.

  44. Are we voting on Taqueria or just the tacos?

    In either case…Tacomiendo being a #8 seed much less losing in the first round is a crime.

    Once again, the committee shafts the mid-majors…tournament style.

  45. Say what you want about Tito’s, but it’s got TWICE as many votes as ANY other place on this list… And I don’t know of ANY other taco place in L.A. where I hear from friends all over the country who have moved away that they still crave it. I go there all the time, and the crowd is by far not just white, either. Good is good, and Tito’s is the best.

  46. Tito’s Tacos?!?! Are you kidding me? Leave the westside once in a while and try some Mexican food. You’ll like it. Any menu with “ground beef” as an ingredient is a dead give-away.

  47. Now I grew up on Tito’s…and I NEVER liked their meat. It was only about the cheese. Recently re-visited my past…after leaving LA for 10 years and engaging in culinary euphoria in NYC, Seattle and Atlanta (no places to compare tacos, obviously). So I’m back and trying tito’s and thinking “YUCK.” Even the salsa sucks! Tacomiendo is the place! (Tacos por favor is just a spot well-to-do baseball little leaguer families love to get dinner in a pinch). La Playita used to be our fave, until we found Tacomiendo.

  48. I gotta tell ya, I have been eating at Titos tacos since i was 5 years old, just about the time they opened. I live in Lancaster now, and still have to make the trip at least once a month for the Titos fix, nothing beats the tacos or burritos.

  49. […] LA Taco hosts Taco Madness! A bracket where voters decide which taqueria takes home the trophy. […]

  50. mmmm… word on the street is that tito’s tacos is campaigning for votes. haha.

  51. Taco King is just another commercial place like McDonalds all the meat is premade in a Cental Kithen and heated in steam tables,if you want eat fresh cooked meat try somwere else Like El Kotita ,Koji BBQ Tacomedio are your best bet.

  52. tito’s is going to smoke this competition

  53. What about taconazo if youre going to include fish tacos. Best I have had even in comparison to Ensenada locations.

  54. I just discovered this great site. I do an eating blog in Oakland and did a taco edition last year. You might dig it:

  55. Can you please remove Tito’s Tacos from the tournament. If you can’t then please add Taco Bell and Del Taco to the competition…they serve basically the same food.

  56. “Anita Pu wrote:
    Tito’s Tacos?!?! Are you kidding me? Leave the westside once in a while and try some Mexican food. You’ll like it. Any menu with “ground beef” as an ingredient is a dead give-away.”

    My thoughts exactly! Tito’s is all hype. Why not put Taco Bell on the list???!!!

  57. […] Comments i find this great and hilarious and enticing, all at the same time. LA taco has started a taco tournament for L.A. it’s already completed a good amount of the ladder, but it makes me wanna hit up all […]

  58. I would give my first born to see El Parian with their tacos de birria. Best taco in town.

  59. Taco plus has THE BEST carnitas tacos in town. if you havent had them go to West LA and try them now. this is the place i will miss the most if i ever move.

  60. This site has a bunch of retards voting. Tito’s over El Taurino? Yet King Taco is favored to win it all? El Taurino is King Taco, only better!

    Please do not reproduce.

  61. […] forget the source, but I somehow can across this blog post on lataco.com.  A tournament of tacos from LA’s best tacquerias:  I had to participate. My […]

  62. I would have to vote for TACOS EL GAVILAN!!! Who is with me?

  63. Hey tacos la Playita in Lynwood is bomb that guacamole is off the hook