While 2017 didn’t have as many remarkable new taco spot openings as the prior two years, your trusted contributors did get some real gems added to the ever-expanding L.A. taco scene. Additionally, some favorite places added new items to their menus, which helped a few familiar spots stand out from the crowded field.
Here are the new tacos from 2017 that you absolutely need to try in 2018. Read the list, then enjoy the map and bonus gallery at the end!
Tacos y Birria La Unica — Quesatacos de Birria
Despite having only been open since September, Tacos y Birria La Unica has had its tables and chairs (set up right outside a Dollar Tree store) filled with customers getting their fix of quesatacos (tacos with melted cheese) de birria. While quesatacos are being offered by more food trucks and stands in L.A. these days, few places are serving the stewy beef or goat birria and cheese tacos on handmade corn tortillas. As if tender, juicy birria, and melty cheese on a fresh tortilla weren’t enough, the quesatacos at Tacos y Birria La Unica are crisped up on the flattop grill with a splash of meat drippings. Don’t forget to try all of their fresh salsas neatly and readily available on the outside of the truck.
Open daily: 8 am-3 pm. Closed Tuesdays.
Ah Carbón: Tacos Estilo Tijuana — Tacos de Asada
When making tacos de carne asada, the use of mesquite coals is absolutely vital in achieving that signature smoky Tijuana-style flavor. Ah Carbon Tacos, in Pico Rivera, delivers in not only grilling meats the right way, but also in offering real border-style guacamole — not a watered down version of it — on handmade corn tortillas. Tacos de asada are simple, yet each component should be carefully prepared — and this pop-up on Telegraph Road does just that.
Open Friday-Sunday only, 6 pm to “sellout” (typically 10-11 pm).
Dia De Los Puercos (Inside Ramirez Liquor store) — “El Tri” (Choice of 3 tacos)
The “El Tri” special is what you order when you just want at least three delicious, satisfying tacos to accompany whatever beverage(s) you may be picking up at Ramirez Liquor. Whether it’s the al pastor, tinga, lengua, or barbacoa, you won’t be disappointed by the juicy meats nestled in a freshly handmade corn tortilla and topped with cabbage and guacasalsa.
Open 11 am-9 pm.
Caló Provisions — Tacos Dorados (Chile Verde)
Whenever chef Ted Montoya announces he’s going to pop up at any space, on any given night in L.A., make sure to pay him a visit. Not only are you going to have a delicious meal, but you’re going to leave excited thinking about what new taco or enchilada or bowl of pozole he’s going to conjure up and serve next time around. Take for instance his Tacos Dorados, which are stuffed with succulent, dashi-braised pork shank, and topped with an incredible avocado crema, cilantro, pickled onion and chorizo togarashi. It sounds like there’s a lot going on when you see the list of ingredients written on the chef’s table-top chalk board, but when you bite into the taco, it just makes sense. Period.
L’s Fish Tacos — Fish & Shrimp Tacos
It’s winter in L.A. There’s a high probability that temperatures will be in the mid-70s with clear skies. In other words, it’s fish taco weather. You should just plan your day around visiting L’s Fish Tacos, which is serving up some quality Ensenada-style fish and shrimp tacos. Each taco is made-to-order, so you can count on warm, crispy fish or shrimp every time. Condiments such as pico de gallo, chipotle crema, salsa verde y roja, chopped cabbage, even mayo are available for optimal fish-taco customization. If you were planning on taking a road trip to Baja to get your fish taco fix, still go … they’re unreal down there. If you can’t make it to Baja, count on this recently opened taco stand in East L.A. to satisfy your fish and/or shrimp taco needs.
Open: Tuesday-Sunday, 10 am-7 pm.
Balam Taco — Chicharron en Salsa Verde Taco
Balam has been serving a variety of unique tacos since they first opened in the fall of 2015. Yet they still seem to be adding tacos to their ever-growing menu. Their chicharron en salsa verde taco, which first began as a secret menu item, offered only on certain days, quickly earned its spot on the regular menu after customers kept ordering the juicy pork taco served on a bed of black beans and handmade corn tortillas. Side note: This taco also helped Balam earn the Best In Show trophy at L.A. TACO’s Taco Madness 2017 last summer.
Teddy’s Red Tacos — Tacos de Birria (de res)
If you’re craving delicious Tijuana-style birria tacos for breakfast, lunch or dinner, pay Teddy’s Red Tacos truck a visit. Every taco, mulita, and quesadilla on the menu receives that signature splash of red-orange beef drippings treatment, which allows the tortillas to crisp up, while also offering a textural contrast to the tender beef. It’s hard to beat a plate full of crispy beef birria tacos (or quesatacos, if you’re in the mood for melted cheese) with a piping hot foam cup of consomé and a cold Mexican coke any day of the week.
Open daily, 9 am-7 pm.
Holbox — Scallop Tacos
While the tacos de pulpo en su tinta (octopus in squid ink) may be the most popular taco on Holbox’s menu, you simply cannot go wrong by giving Chef Gilberto Cetina Jr.’s scallop tacos a try. Each component — from the x’catic (caribe chile) salsa, to the naturally sweet and perfectly pan-fried diver scallops and caramelized onions, to the bright, refreshing touch of pickled fennel — is strategically layered onto handmade corn tortillas, resulting in a perfectly balanced must-try taco experience.
3655 S Grand Ave #C9 Los Angeles, CA 90007 — Inside Mercado La Paloma
Open: Tuesday-Sunday, 11:30 am-8 pm.
Carnitas El Momo — Tacos Dorados de Barbacoa de Res
While Carnitas El Momo is best known for their world-class pork carnitas, it’s important to not sleep on their now regularly served beef barbacoa tacos. Longtime customers have known about their barbacoa for quite some time, but would only be dished out on certain days, typically weekends. But after Juan “Billy” Acosta, son of Don Romulo “Momo” Acosta, took a recent trip to Jalisco, he came back feeling inspired and began offering tacos dorados, lightly fried on the flattop and filled with that delicious red chile-stained beef barbacoa, served with a cup of consomé.
Thursday and Friday, 11 am-sellout. (Also at 61st & Avalon, Saturday and Sunday, 9 am-1:30 pm.)
Loqui — Primo (w/ beef on a flour tortilla)
Having tacos at a joint that makes their own flour tortillas will never get old. Add ridiculously tender and juicy beef with fresh salsa, beans, cheese and guacamole and your day has reached its peak. Just to reiterate, if you plan on making a trip to Baja (and stopping by world renown El Yaqui in Rosarito), do not put it off any longer … just go already. But, if taking multiple trips south of the border isn’t one of your New Year’s resolutions, settle on paying Loqui in Culver City a visit. You won’t be disappointed.
Open daily: 11 am-9 pm.