A traditional Mexican dish, tacos are one of the most popular types of food in Southern California, especially during the summertime. It isn’t hard to find a taco joint these days, but how to choose between all of the different options? Whether it’s Baja-style fish tacos you’re after, or signature tacos served in a restaurant inspired by Mexican wrestling, these are 11 of the best places for tacos in Southern California.
Best Tacos in Southern California
1. King Taco
Founded in 1974, the King Taco restaurant chain started out as a converted ice cream truck selling tacos, and has now expanded into 20 different locations throughout Los Angeles. They serve a wide variety of authentic Mexican food, and have been named among the “Top 500 Hispanic Businesses” by Hispanic Business Magazine. Tacos are their specialty and prepared in two warm corn tortillas, garnished with fresh chopped cilantro and onion, their famous salsa, and nice different meat options.
Address: 45 N Arroyo Pkwy, Pasadena, CA
2. Amigos Tacos
A local South Bay hotspot popular with surfers and beach-goers, Amigos Tacos is known for their quick and delicious Mexican food. Taco options include hard shell and soft shell, fish, shrimp, Taco De Chorizo (Mexican sausage), and a low-carb taco. Also recommended is their breakfast burrito, which is made with sausage, bacon, hash brown, eggs and cheese.
This Southwestern-themed restaurant offers a big tequila selection and features original artwork by Markus Pierson, who is inspired by coyotes. Named “Best Mexican Food” in the Easy Reader Best of the Beach Poll, one of their signature dishes is the Blackened Fish Tacos, which are tossed in spices, pan seared and served with Napa cabbage slaw, lime sour cream and mango-jalapeno salsa.
This San Diego restaurant was opened by three brothers and serves authentic-style Mexican dishes accompanied by Mexican wrestling-inspired décor. Guests enjoy watching the classic-wrestling matches on the multiple televisions, and they also have a gold Champion’s Booth, which requires a 24-hour reservation. All of their salsas are house-made, and they have an entire menu of gourmet tacos including their Veggie Taco and the Undefeated Seafood Taco, with blackened Mahi or shrimp, Jack cheese, Pico de Gallo, cabbage and Serrano sauce.
With two locations (one in Goleta and the other in Santa Barbara), Lilly’s Taqueria is known for serving the best and most authentic tacos in town. All of their tacos are served on corn tortillas and offer a selection of steamed and grilled cooked meats, including unique ingredients like beef tongue, beef lip, and beef eye. They also offer a veggie taco made with corn, zucchini, carrots, and green beans.
6. James’ Beach
This Venice Beach-based restaurant features more than 100 menu selections made from fresh scratch each day, including their tasty taco menu. Try the Grilled Mahi Mahi Taco, which is a favorite of movie writer and director John Hamburg, who loved them so much that he decided to feature them in a scene of his movie “I Love You, Man”, where one of the characters refers to them as “the best in the world.” The tacos feature premium Mahi Mahi fish that is cooked fresh and seasoned.
Address: 60 N. Venice Blvd., Venice, CA
This eclectic spot in the heart of Los Feliz neighborhood serves Baja-style shrimp and fish tacos, which were inspired by the owner’s very first fish taco experience. The prices are cheap and the service is quick, making it the perfect summertime lunch spot. They only take cash, so be sure to stop at the ATM prior to coming in.
8. Tito’s Tacos
This busy spot has been serving customers guests their popular top-secret Mexican recipes since 1959, and all cuisine is slow cooked to perfection every day. Customers can conveniently eat at the counter, or take their food to-go. Get the traditional Tito’s Taco with Cheese, with includes shredded beef, grated cheddar cheese, and sliced Iceberg lettuce served in a freshly cooked corn taco shell.
Address: 11222 Washington Pl, Culver City, CA
Experience authentic Bajan dishes in this Los Angeles dining spot that features a charming rustic décor. If you’re looking for burritos or enchiladas, you’re in the wrong place – Mexicali Taco only serves quesadillas, nachos, and of course, tacos. Customers rave over their signature Mexicali Taco, which is prepared Northern Baja style with authentic harina or maiz tortilla stuffed with their choice of meat.
Address: 702 N Figueroa St, Los Angeles, CA
10. Chronic Tacos
This taco chain was opened by Randall L. Wynder, who was frustrated by the lack of good tacos in Newport Beach. After acquiring third-generation recipes from a close family friend, the first location was opened in Newport Beach, and now Chronic Tacos has more than 30 locations throughout California. Their breakfast tacos are made with corn and flour tortillas and stuffed with eggs, potatoes, and choice of meat. Don’t forget to try their potato tacos, which consist of a corn tortilla filled with mashed potatoes and cheese deep-fried to order.
Address: 3870 E Ocean Blvd, Long Beach, CA
This article was written by Kamala Kirk.