Los Angeles is known for many things.
Without a doubt, one of those things is Mexican Food. And, if we are talking about Mexican food we have to talk about the king of that cuisine: the taco.
I read somewhere that Los Angeles is the taco capital of the United States. After living many years in the city, I have to agree. I am not saying there are no good taco shops in other parts of the country. I am just saying that in Los Angeles, you can find 15 to 20 absolutely scrumptious taquerias in a small city block.
Three years ago, Bill Esparza, put together an event where he invited his favorite taco vendors. He called it Tacolandia and it was a smashing success.
Bill started writing about street food (ok, mostly tacos) in his blog Street Gourmet LA. With time he rose to notoriety and now writes for publications such as Los Angeles Magazine and LA Weekly. He has been named the world’s first “tacorazzo.”
He had appeared in various TV shows (like with Andrew Zimmern), acted as a food critic and judged food-related competitions.
I sub estimated the previous two editions of Tacolandia. I tried to buy tickets weeks before the events only to find out they were sold out.
This year, I approached the event differently. I signed in for the event newsletter and bought my tickets during the pre-sale.
The event had about 80 taco vendors on site (plus tortas, tostadas, churros, burritos, etc.). Well, I got full in only an hour and wasn’t able to try everything. However, what I had was enough to leave with a smile on my lips (and difficulty walking after eating more than 20 tacos).
Tacolandia: What I Ate
Guide to Los Angeles Best Tacos
Eating so many tacos in less than two hours was like being in a dream.
However, the event left us with a cherished treasure.
I am referring to the pocket guide given to attendees (this was supposed to be used to navigate the festival).
Yes, this was useful during the festival but once we were done with the event, we were left with a mini bible of the best tacos of Los Angeles (and beyond!).
This takes away the hassle of researching the best of the best. Now, we have a huge list of taquerias to visit during the entire year.
For the benefit of the readers of this blog, I used the guide to divide the establishments (and food trucks) by regions. In that way, if you are visiting Los Angeles and are interested in trying out delicious tacos, you can Google the name of one (or several) of the restaurants located in the area you are visiting.
If a restaurant has more than one location (or if it is a food truck with multiple stops), I repeated the name.
Downtown Los Angeles
Bar Ama – Border Grill – B.S. Taqueria – Chichen Itza – Cielito Lindo – Guerilla Tacos – Kogi – Pez Cantina – Plan Check
Los Angeles Other (West, East, South Central, South Bay)
Bizarra Capital – Burritos La Palma – Carnitas El Momo – El Veneno – Corazón y Miel – Día de los Puercos – Don Chente – El Coraloense – El Tepeyac – Expresión Oaxaqueña- Flautas – Frida Tacos – Gish Bac – Guerilla Tacos – Kaya – Kogi – La Flor de Yucatan – La Monarca Bakery – La Taquiza – Las 7 Regiones de Oaxaca – Las Molenderas – El Cristalazo – Mariscos Jalisco – Mexicali Taco – Moles La Tía – PettyCash Taquería – Puertos del Pacifico – Ricky’s Fish Tacos – Rocio’s Mole de los Dioses – Tacos Cuernavaca – Tacos Quetzalcoatl – Tacos Way – Tamales Elena – Tortas Ahogadas Ameca – Tortas Ahogadas Guadalajara – Trejos’s Tacos
Border Grill – La Monarca Bakery – Tacos Punta Cabras
Rincon Oxaqueño – The Hungry Cat
Cacao Mexicatessen – Frida Tacos
Amor y Tacos – Anepalco – Soho Tacos – Sol Cocina – Taco María – Urbana
Bracero – Bull Taco – Comun Kitchen – Poppa’s Fresh Fish Company – Puesto – Aquí es Texcoco
Corazón de Tierra – La Guerrerense – Manzanilla – Mariscos Bahía de Ensenada – Tacos Los Famosos – Kokopelli
Techniques to Tackle an Event like This
In an event like Tacolandia, with 80 vendors, it is impossible to try everything. You will need some tactics to eat as much as possible.
Some people are not necessarily into eating till they burst. They are interested in trying some specific establishments. If this is your interest, determine which taco stops you want to make. Use the pocket guide to determine where your favorites are located and start to visit one by one.
Another technique is to focus on the places you haven’t tried. In my case, I had tasted the tacos of several of the vendor. Therefore, I focused on trying new vendors.
Now, if you want to try as much as possible, I think you have to focus into trying the essence of the taco. That means you will need to eat the filling and discard the tortilla (I know I am going to be unpopular for writing this but it an idea, ask only for the filling). Believe me, the tortillas are going to fill you pretty fast. Also, since there are tons of food available, you can order one taco per couple at each booth. Resist the urge to devour everything at the beginning. Pace yourself.
I recommend starting with the vendors located farther from the entrance. People will tend to walk to the closest vendors first. If you walk to the farthest end, there should be shorter lines.
Some vendors only give one taco to a person making the line. So, the technique of one person grabbing food for the couple or group may not work. Again, there is too much food to worry about this.
Arrive early. These events get really crowded.
The most popular vendors are going to run out of food fast.
In reality, you do not have to follow any rules or techniques. Just go and enjoy the event!
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