The taco may be L.A.'s favorite food. And the best way to eat one is on the sidewalk, fresh from a truck. (Or a trailer, like Taco Zone, above.) The city's food truck culture has a long and proud culture, and now all kinds of cuisines can be purchased from trucks. But for this list, we're getting strict: The rule is, the main offering must be in taco form. The trucks can be unpredictable, so when possible, look them up on Twitter before heading out to chow down. Whether it's tonight, tomorrow or the next night, you're going to get world-class tacos eventually.
10. Chancho's Tacos
This is a soft-taco town, where hard-shell tacos are reserved almost exclusively for semi-shame-ridden, late-night fast-food excursions. However, Chancho's specializes in fried taco shells, and even puts shredded cheddar and lettuce on top. (The owners are openly and happily gringo-influenced.) It's not traditional Angeleno food, but Chancho's has focus, and it does tacos well. —Katherine Spiers
9. La Estrella
It's hard to eat anywhere else in Highland Park when La Estrella is open; the siren song of its glorious smoky asada echoes all up and down York Boulevard. Yes, the menu is very simple – you can get either tacos or burritos — and the selection of meats is relatively basic — asada, pastor, carnitas, lengua or cabeza — but damn if it isn't just about perfect (it's no wonder it's the only Mexican taco truck to make our 99 Essentials list). La Estrella has no exterior salsa bar — you order your tacos with everything and they come out fully dressed. The asada is spectacular, perfectly complemented by the spicy red chipotle salsa, and the pastor is wonderful too, saucy and tender and bright. Yes, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the thrill of a new find, or the excitement of an unusual cut of meat, but take one bite of a La Estrella taco and you’ll remember exactly how it earned its impossibly tight parking spot at the top of L.A.'s taco mountain. —Ben Mesirow
8. Taco Zone
While every truck on this list will be polarizing for some, perhaps none is more hotly debated than Echo Park's Taco Zone. Its hipster popularity is unrivaled (is there another truck that has 20-somethings pitching in to build a portable table for it?), and the number of indie-band stickers that dot the boxy trailer is simply staggering. Still, it's an eclectic mix that patiently waits for Taco Zone to dole out its fare. Many opt for the salty carne asada, but that's a fool's gambit. Suadero (rib meat) is king here; it arrives thick and moist on its best nights, sort of like a slice of brisket. But above all, Taco Zone is a salsa spot, with 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. —Farley Elliott
7. Ricky's Fish Tacos
When Ricky's first opened, it almost became a victim of its own success: It was instantly popular, and grumpy neighbors (and our grumpy city regulations) kept forcing it to move. But the truck's fish and shrimp tacos were a siren to food nerds all across the city (frankly, all across the country), and Ricky's survived. It's still serving fried sea critters topped with various slaws and sauces (that hot sauce is absolutely no joke) almost every day. —K.S.
6. Kogi BBQ Truck
At this point, Kogi is practically edible academic text, an utterly necessary experience if you want to understand L.A., our food scene and our most visible culinary troubadour, Roy Choi. The fleet of trucks, which daily appear all over the city, are most famously dispensers of the original Korean tacos, a trend that has now swept the globe, for better or worse. At Kogi the existence of the mashup is assuredly for the good of us all, the sweet and slightly sour kimchi making beautiful sense nestled against beef short rib or spicy pork and wrapped in a tortilla. —Besha Rodell
5. Jorge's Tacos
The work being done at this Boyle Heights regular seems so soulful and thoughtful, and the food reflects the care that's gone into developing the recipes here. The owner pulls a mesquite grill out onto the sidewalk — unsurprisingly, carne asada taste even better cooked over an open flame than it does on a flat-top. Jorge's also cooks up its own beans, and adds them to every taco. A bit of Central Coast wholesomeness in one of L.A.'s oldest neighborhoods. —K.S.
4. El Chato
The tacos themselves are tiny (three-biters, max), but the selection is huge: asada, pastor, pollo, chorizo, lengua, cabeza, buche, tripe and even the rare bean and cheese. There's no condiment bar, as the tacos come already garnished: you'll find this is the most chefly of the old-school taco trucks. I swear there's lemongrass in one of the marinades. —K.S.
3. Guerrilla Tacos
If you had to show someone what it’s like to live and eat in Los Angeles and had only an hour to accomplish it, you probably could get the job done with a visit to Guerrilla Tacos. Here’s where you come to eat from a truck that parks in front of the city’s best coffee (and sometimes wine) shops, a taco truck that started as a cart but soon will become a restaurant, where you might find gooseberries on your wild boar taco. —B.R.
2. Tacos Leo
It’s 2 a.m. You’re hungry. You might not be totally sober. You crave tacos. In these situations, many people would settle for whatever floppy tortillas and dry meat happen their way. But in Los Angeles, there is Tacos Leo, the shining beacon of al pastor. There are few taco trucks in existence that offer such consistent and reliable comfort. —Garrett Snyder
1. Mariscos Jalisco
Don’t be fooled by the imitators, the lesser producers, the many other tacos dorado de camaron in L.A. The version at Raul Ortega’s Mariscos Jalisco, the Boyle Heights mariscos truck, is far and away the king of fried tacos, in this city and perhaps in the country. Don’t be confused by the crowds surrounding the other trucks nearby. Go directly to this corner of Olympic Boulevard and wait as they fold the shrimp into a tortilla and fry the whole thing in hot oil, pulling it out at the perfect point of golden crisp, then coat it with creamy slices of avocado and pert red salsa. —B.R.