Serving Up Some SoCal Standouts to Celebrate National Taco Day

Do we need to pick just one?

Who has the best taco in California? Depends on who you ask! Just about every corner of the Golden State offers this delicious tortilla filled dish, and everyone has a favorite. From traditional taquerias to restaurants taking their own culinary spin, you can find just about any kind of taco your heart desires. Southern California alone offers a super competitive field, and the highly regarded Michelin Guide has some opinions when it comes to tacos of the region. Here are few of their favorites to consider for National Taco Day on October 4.

Taco María 

One MICHELIN Star, MICHELIN Guide California 2020

“Chef Carlos Salgado is known for his exacting approach to cooking and the tacos at Taco María are a fine example. The masa for the tortillas is made from heirloom varieties of corn grown throughout Mexico that is nixtamalized in-house (a process that helps to transform cornmeal into a pliant dough). The restaurant is in Orange County, and for those lucky enough to live nearby (or willing to drive) they are offering a takeout menu during the pandemic. There are two tacos on this menu (bacon and frijoles or grilled fish), which leaves plenty of room for everything else. Dessert, jars of house-made salsas, beer and wine are all available to-go.”

Gracias Madre

MICHELIN Plate, MICHELIN Guide California 2020

“Gracias Madre in West Hollywood (also Newport Beach and San Francisco) is probably not what you expect a Mexican restaurant to be. The menu eschews the carnal pleasures of meat for the creative pleasures of vegan, plant-based cuisine. Everything here is made from Mother Earth, hence the name (it means ‘thank you, mother’ in Spanish). The tacos ‘al pastor’ replace achiote-rubbed pork with roasted mushrooms and juicy carnitas are made from jackfruit, which is tucked into a burrito with beans and rice. Though vegan Mexican food is earning more attention these days, Chef Mario Alberto has been cooking this way since the restaurant opened in 2014. Outdoor dining on the restaurant’s attractive patio is available.”


MICHELIN Plate, MICHELIN Guide California 2020

“In Mexico and throughout its diaspora, guisados are comforting stews eaten with tortillas or rice and to some, the essence of nostalgia. At Guisados, the restaurant that specializes in tacos de guisados, these braises are ladled atop supple, hand-pressed corn tortillas and garnished with some combination of crema, pickled or raw onion and crumbled fresh cheese. There is nothing but tacos on the menu but there are over 10 to choose from (and more if you count the breakfast menu). Fillings include simmered flank steak, diced pork chop in chile verde, mole poblano and cochinita pibil. There are seven locations scattered throughout Los Angeles from Burbank to Boyle Heights and all are currently open for takeout and delivery.”

Tacos El Gordo

MICHELIN Plate, MICHELIN Guide California 2020

“Tacos El Gordo started selling its Tijuana-style tacos over 40 years ago in Chula Vista. Even though it has since expanded into a mini chain with six locations across California and Nevada, the restaurant remains a family-run business. It is counter service only here (they are currently open for takeout and delivery) but service runs continuously from day to night. The uniformed (and masked) staff dole out corn tortilla rounds topped with achiote-stained spicy pork adobado, sliced from the trompo, or the popular grilled and chopped steak topped with a dollop of creamed avocado—a signature Tijuana touch. Bulbs of crisp radish, wedges of lime and fistfuls of cilantro and chopped onion accompany every order.”

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