Think back, if you can, to a time before food fusion and "mobile gourmet dining experiences." When late night eating meant a 24-hour Subway, 4 a.m. Thai joint or one of the city's finest taco trucks. Remember the off-white loncheros that have crawled the construction sites throughout Southern California for decades, the feisty machines that vie for avenue space out in Highland Park, the hard to find but always worth it trucks and trailers that have delivered for years on a simple promise to us all: in Los Angeles, great Mexican food can be had, day or night, for very little money, from somewhere nearby.
That social contract is still alive and well, providing us all with the burritos, tacos, sopes, mulitas and quesadillas that this city runs on. Nearly everyone has a "local," their own favorite taco truck that has fed them when they needed it most, or provided a quick meal when the fridge was blowing tumbleweeds. But there are also those undeniable titans of the genre, trucks so beloved to this city that they belong to us all. We stand in line after the bars let out, we drive across town in 7 p.m. traffic, we make sure to carry cash and practice our Spanish on the way over. Of the thousands upon thousands of fantastic loncheros worthy of such dedication, we think these are the ten best taco trucks that Los Angeles has to offer.
While every truck on this list will be polarizing for some, perhaps none is more hotly debated than Echo Park's Taco Zone. Their hipster popularity is unrivaled (is there another truck that has twenty-somethings pitching in to build them a portable table?), and the number of indie band stickers that dot the boxy trailer is simply staggering. Still, it's an eclectic mix of all shapes, sizes colors and creeds that patiently waits for Taco Zone to dole out their fare. Many opt for the salty carne asada, but that's a fool's gambit. Suadero (rib meat) is king here, which arrives thick and moist on its best nights, sort of like a slice of brisket. But above all, Taco Zone is a salsa spot, which a fantastic salsa verde and a none-too-mild roja that steal the taco show every time. Order up a horchata to kill the heat -- you won't be disappointed. N. Alvarado St. & Montana St., Echo Park.
Things are done a little differently at Tacos La Fonda in North Hollywood, and that's largely by design. There are no double-stacked tortillas from a bag to be found here, just thick hand-patted discs of fresh masa that have been firmed up on the griddle. The tacos at La Fonda are wide, yawning affairs, overflowing with citrus-laced al pastor or a slightly peppery carne asada. The tender cabeza (head) is a worthy version, served with a handful of sweetly grilled white onions. For the overindulgent, the salsa bar also a popular focus, with tub after tub of salsas, pico de gallo, halved limes, shredded lettuce and sour cream. There is something to satiate everyone at Tacos La Fonda, from the dedicated taco eater to the wary taco truck newcomer. Northwest Corner of Vanowen and Vineland, North Hollywood.
See also: 10 Best Carne Asada Fries in Los Angeles
As a longstanding member of the taco truck community, this permanently parked operation off York in Highland Park makes the list for good reason. The carne asada, thick with salsa verde and freshly chopped white onions, is close to paradise. It is the unmistakable mix of salty beef and zippy salsa plus a couple of warm, soft tortillas that have kept La Estrella in the L.A. taco lexicon for so long. Others may opt for the carnitas, a version which may have no rank with porky purists, but is served warm, tender, and overflowing with juices for the rest of us. These are hearty tacos, meant to satisfy the whole family in a taco-crazy neighborhood that could always choose to go elsewhere, but hasn't for years. York & Ave. 54, Highland Park.