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THE BEST SPOTS FOR DELICIOUSLY HEALTHY TACOS IN LOS ANGELES

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KATHERINE CHANG

JUL 14, 2020

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IMAGE VIA @TOCAYAORGANICA | INSTAGRAM

Forget Taco Tuesday. LA is the taco capital of America, which means hitting up a different taco stop every day of the week is definitely possible. But we know that wouldn’t fly with the growing population of health-conscious Angelenos, so we’ve rounded up LA’s healthyish taco spots to satisfy everyone’s taco cravings. From pop-ups and food trucks to long-standing establishments, we’ve got you covered. You and your summer bod can thank us later.

Guerilla Tacos started as a pop-up, evolved into a well-known food truck, and now, is treating Los Angeles locals to healthy tacos in their brick-and-mortar in The Arts District. If you stop in, chances are you’ll get a glimpse of chef Wes Avila cooking up his famed sweet potato taco with almond chile, crumbled feta, fried corn, and scallions. It’s likely you’ll also spot Wes at area farmers markets picking up the best and freshest seasonal ingredients that determine his ever-changing menu.

With seven area locations and counting, Tocaya is all about modern, organic Mexican fast-casual fare made with fresh and sustainable ingredients. And their four taco styles (Cali Green, Barrio Style, Al Pastor, and Baja Chipotle) that will satisfy vegans and non-vegans alike. Whether you go vegan style with their plant-based picadillo with vegan mozzarella or chipotle jack or choose from their selection of mouth-watering meats, you can’t go wrong — their bold flavors speak for themselves. In true LA form, you can sub the corn tortilla for a butter lettuce shell. (No judgment here! It’s just as good.)

Voted “Best Taco in Los Angeles” at LA Taco’s annual Taco Madness competition, vegan Mexican pop-up Taqueria La Venganza beat out the city’s best (and non-vegan) taco makers for the title. Their crowned tacos feature plant-based versions of traditional taco meat fillings, from carne asada and carnitas to barbacoa and chorizo. Aside from the usual vegan “meat” go-to jackfruit, founder and chef Medina uses the hardened film formed atop boiling soy milk (aka tofu skin) to recreate the textures and flavors of his grandmother’s cooking. Follow Taqueria La Venganza on Instagram to see where Medina will be popping up next.

You won’t find traditional tacos at Tallula’s. What you will find are imaginative beachside takes on your favorite handhelds — all made with house-made tortillas. After a day at Santa Monica Beach, you’ll want to feast on their Baja Rock Cod Tacos made with napa cabbage, dill, epazote, malt tartar sauce, and pickled onion. Rounding out their bold, flavor-filled menu are slow-braised beef barbacoa, organic chicken verde, and vegetarian varieties that are a treat for your taste buds. And with seasonally-inspired selections driven by sustainably-sourced seafood, meat, and produce from the Santa Monica Farmers Market, eating here is an all-around win-win.

In a true sign of the times, this roaming all-vegan taco haven is dishing out some of LA’s tastiest “carnitas” tacos (all served on locally-made, organic yellow corn tortillas) with the best of them. Case in point: their Super Crazy Taco made with marinated jackfruit “carnitas” and topped with slow-cooked pinto beans, pico de gallo, cabbage slaw, chipotle mayo, and tomatillo salsa. While you’re at it, try their creamy mashed Potato Taco, too. You can find the husband-and-wife duo behind Plant Food for People slinging delicious tacos every Tuesday morning and afternoon in Highland Park.

With three locations (Los Feliz, Westwood, and Larchmont Village) under their belt, Tacos Tu Madre must be onto something. Our guess is that something is their innovative, Mexican fusion street fare and non-traditional taco offerings. Enter: their Korean BBQ Taco made with 36-hour Asian marinade braised beef, kimchi, spicy honey, and avocado tomatillo salsa. If you’re looking for vegan options, opt for the Vegan Banh Mi Taco (36-hour marinade tofu, crispy kale, pickled carrot, avocado, crispy onions with ponzu). With 16 tacos on the menu to choose from, you may want to build up your appetite and your cash flow (their priciest taco goes for $6.60).

No LA taco list would be complete without this Fairfax joint. Perhaps best known for their Charcoal Grilled Octopus Taco, they also offer up other non-traditional tacos worth mentioning, like their Grilled Maitake Mushroom and their Crispy Zucchini. Owner and chef Walter Manzke builds his menu around Mexican street food classics using the best local, seasonal, and sustainable ingredients. It’s all inspired by his fond memories eating cheap tacos, drinking creative cocktails, and enjoying good music in Tijuana. You can’t argue with that!

If breakfast and Taco Tuesday had a baby, it would be HomeState’s Tex-Mex breakfast tacos. Worth writing home about, their organic, fluffy egg variations wrapped in homemade flour tortillas have put Tex-Mex tacos on the LA map. Situated in Los Feliz and Highland Park (with another store in Playa Vista in the works), Texas transplant founder Briana Valdez frequents the Hollywood and Larchmont Farmers Markets to recreate the foods she grew up with. (They even get their eggs fresh from a local farm every day!) Plus, their legendary homemade flour tortillas (which compared to their corn counterparts are hard to find in LA, BTW) are available for purchase, so you can take some of HomeState home with you!

York Blvd. in Highland Park is where it’s at in LA for top-notch vegan street food. Arguably the most well-known cart on the block is Cena Vegan (it’s the one with the line around the corner). And no animals were harmed in the making of all four of their “meats.” Their carne asada, pollo asado, al pastor, and barbacoa—all of which are filled with authentic flavors made from generations-old family recipes—are made from wheat, soy, and garbanzo bean flours. Can’t decide? Go with the Four Taco Platter so you can try one of each, all served on fresh-made corn tortillas. You can also pick up their plant-based meats at Follow Your Heart Market & Cafe in Canoga Park and Organix Market in Eagle Rock.

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