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crunchy tacos

i know they are so not authentic... but i LOVE crunchy tacos... anyone have local non-taco-bell tips?

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    1. re: caitybirdie

      ... or at El Atacor #11, Figuroa and Ave. 26 in Cypress Park.

    2. In the Silverlake area, I recommend Rick's. I posted about it in this thread (not the most articulate post to come out of my mouth, but the hardshell beef tacos are good!):


      I also like the ground beef tacos from Malo, on Sunset in Silverlake.

      I also love the hardshell tacos from Tia Juana, on Olympic, near Bundy, in West LA.

      1 Reply
      1. re: DanaB

        Ricks are a very specific kind of non-mexican taco...mild ground beef with some sort oif filler, tons of lettuce and shredded cheddar. They are very big.

      2. Tito's tacos, west l.a. Case closed.

        1. I beg to differ. The hardshell beef tacos from Rick's in Silverlake kick Tito's in the a$$.

          I've eaten at Tito's a couple of times, recently (like 1 month ago and 4-5 months ago), and while Tito's is consistant, it isn't really great. It's good, I'll give you that, but Tito's is not great. If I never ate another one, I would not die. In fact, I'd probably never notice. Tito's is *good* for what they do, but there is certainly better.

          I do NOT want to spawn a turf war, as I know there are people that love Tito's, and I respect that. But there are better hard shell tacos out there, I promise you!

          1. La Talpa on Pico at Barrington. Best crunchy taco in town - run by a family, been there 30 years.

            2 Replies
            1. re: yogachik

              I second the Talpa - their refried beans are also awesome. I now live in Arizona but I still crave their food. The waitresses have all beeen there 25+ years and are wonderful.

              1. re: yogachik

                I further endorse The Talpa. Best crunchy taco around.

              2. Some crunchy tacos are authentic depending on the style. Dommy probably knows where to get the best Flautas & Shredded Beef folded tacos.

                Personally... I mainly like the vegetable versions like you found around Mexico State.... particularly the garlicky greens, the mushrooms with epazote, refried beans & even the lettuce versions from Guanajuato... they are tastey & have a nice, earthy balance to them.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Eat_Nopal

                  I have a friend from Guanajuato, could you tell me what you mean by "...even the lettuce versions from Guanajuato..." and if food from this region is available anywhere in this area? Thanks!

                  1. re: sel

                    The Bajio in Guanajuato is Mexico's version of the Central Valley. People in the towns of the Bajio are often referred to as Panzas Verdes (Green Bellies) by other Mexicans... because of the huge quantities of Lettuce & other greens they consume.

                    When you drive through the Bajio, it seems all the small scale farmers operate roadside eateries that feature whatever produce they grow... near Irapuato its all about Strawberries... Strawberries & Cream, Strawberry Liquer, Strawberries with Arbol Chile Salsa etc.,

                    Likewise when you are around the areas where its famous Lechuga Orejona is grown... you get all kinds of Lettuce centric dishes include cruncy tacos (fresh corn torilla, folded over, fried on the spot into a shell, & then stuffed with as much lettuce as will fit in... typically served with some kind of salsa or pickled jalapenos, crema & I have also seen sides of pulled pork, queso fresco, or beans de la olla)


                    Edit... there is one restaurant that I know of that bills itself as cuisine of Guanajuato (McLaughlin & Washington in WLA)... but I really doubt they have lettuce tacos.

                  2. re: Eat_Nopal

                    The best Taquitos hands down are at El Tepayac... As for the best hard shell taco I've had in L.A., it was a total fluke. I went to the Dia de Los Muertos Festival at Casa del Mexicano in boyle heights last year and there was a lady there with a 'sidewalk' set up of a gas heated wok making then fresh of cheese and chicken. So good... I've seen similar set ups on Whitter Blvd and in residental areas at night in ELA... I'm currently hopeing to run into one on one of my East Side Adventures this school year...

                    Taquitos at El Tepayac




                  3. Beef tacos at Mexi-Catessan in Monterery Park on Atlantic Bl. That place has been around since the 70s and they also make great bean & cheese burritos with good salsas too. Kicks Tito's sorry ass.

                    18 Replies
                    1. re: Ernie

                      Even Jack-in-the-Box kicks Tito's sorry ass. I will never understand that one.

                      1. re: Eat_Nopal

                        Eat Nopal - Please tell your fellow Chowhounders that you're joking, and if not, what you have against Tito's that you would so viciously insult them.
                        It's been a few years since I've had Jack's tacos but I remember the grease from the "ground beef" soaked thru the shell making the bottom 1/2 a disgusting opposite of crispy let alone crunchy. & they weren't even worth 50 cents.
                        I consider Tito's more of an American taco, maybe that explains your distaste for them- but aren't Jack's made w/ American cheese? Tito's may not be the best tacos but I think they're tasty, & I can't see how anyone could make a Crunchier taco.

                        1. re: ilikefood

                          I never eat at Jack in the Box but given a choice I too would pick JITB over Tito's. Tito's was crunchy but SO bland as to be utterly pointless. At least the e-coli beef at JITB has some kick to it.

                          Mr Taster

                          1. re: ilikefood

                            When it comes to American Tacos... JITB wipes Tito's off the face of the earth... sure they are greasy, unrefined & inexpensive... but isn't that the essence of an American Taco?

                            What I like about JITB... they have an addictive flavor much in the vein as Duritos or Chex Mix... its a savory, pungent spice blend that just makes you want to eat more.

                            Texturally... the "meat paste" is smooth, gooey & warm... very soothing in a Foie Gras type way enhanced by the Faux Cheese. Further there is a continuum of textures from the soggy, greasy bottom to the crunchy type... without forgetting the slightly wilted lettuce in the middle... which btw, also provides a refreshing break from the seasoned meat... which makes the whole thing all the more irresistible.

                            Tito's in contrast are bland & uninspired. If eating these American Tacos is like stopping at a seedy strip joint... then Tito's is the one with all the Plain Jane dancers.

                          2. re: Eat_Nopal

                            Me neither. I live two blocks away and you couldn't drag me to Tito's.

                          3. re: Ernie

                            hmm,Mexi-Catessan; never heard of the joint. What's the cross street? I'm in montebello and want to check this place out.
                            Pepe's on Valley Blvd in Alhambra makes some out standing Hard shell tacos. They stuff it with meat, cheese, lettuce and Guac!

                            1. re: nrique

                              It's on Atlantic Blvd. near Cadiz, on the east side of the street. It's by the hospital (in case you eat something not too good, haha). I used to live in MP but never ate there - just never got around to it. My daughter says it is good.

                              1. re: monkuboy

                                Right by the Garfield Hospital?
                                What street is it on? Whats the address?
                                Been by that area millions of times and have never seen the place.

                                1. re: nrique

                                  It is near the Monterey Park Hospital on S. Atlantic Blvd.

                                  1. re: Ernie

                                    NOW I REMEMBER that place! It's on the corner of S. El Mercado Ave and Atlantic. Right across the street from the Dominos Pizza. Going to have to try that joint.
                                    There is a relatively new joint near E.L.A. college. Across the street from the Mc Donalds, a couple doors down from the Thai restaraunt. Haven't tried it yet, but plan to soon.

                              2. re: nrique

                                I love Pepe's in Alhambra too. Mexi-Catessan's tacos are smaller but they are not as greasy as Pepe's and do not have guacamole. Just very simple crunchy hard taco goodness. Try their bean & cheese burritos too which are very good.

                                1. re: Ernie

                                  oooh, bean and cheese. J&S near the Montebello golf coourse makes a killer bean and cheese. The tacos are o.k. but the taco plate is the way too go. 3 buck and change gets you two tacos, rice and beans.

                                  1. re: nrique

                                    Oh yeah, J&S is great and dirt cheap. I like their B&C burritos too and the greasy-good tacos are great for sobering up after a night of clubbing. I sometimes crave their dark red salsa!

                                    1. re: Ernie

                                      oh yeah, and their special quesadia is really good too!

                                  2. re: Ernie

                                    Pepe's is hands down the best. The amount of beef is unreal.

                                  3. re: nrique

                                    Since you're talkin' Alhambra- How about Lupita's, S-W corner Valley & Fremont in mini- strip mall W of gas station? They're hard shell tacos are def Crunchy, not just crispy. The shredded beef is my favorite Crunchy taco.

                                    1. re: ilikefood

                                      hey, that's right across the street from the Jack N' the box?
                                      How are the frijoles? (beans)

                                      1. re: nrique

                                        Notice how the JITB in Alhambra at Valley/Fremont is right next to a Jiffy Lube? They deep fry their tacos, don't they? Haha, I LOVE JITB tacos, AND Tito's too. I'd never refuse either of them.

                                2. I have been on a hard shell taco mission. I wrote a REALLY long post once about it here, but it wouldn't allow me to post it that day. I guess the board was having troubles.

                                  Anyway, I have tried lucy's(melrose), el cholo, ciro's, campos, astroburger's, and Tito's all within the last few weeks. El Abajeno and El Tepeyac are up next.

                                  The best of the one's I listed above were Ciro's by far and Lucy's. However, lucy's was quite expensive at $4.50 each. I want the ground beef, hard shell kind, which Ciro's is not, but their meet was seasoned great and super juicy and tender. Adds Rick's and La Talpa to my list.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: LuluTheMagnificent

                                    Lulu ... I hope you will write a comprehensive recap of your findings ... I really like hard shelled tacos, too, but have not done the research you are doing ... I bet I speak for others when I say I hope you do another detailed recap (and that this time the board lets you post it). Thanks Lulu

                                    1. re: PaulF

                                      Paul, that is good to hear. I will do it. I have pics too! Give me a few days.

                                  2. I love the hard tacos as Rick's Burgers in Pasadena (El Molino and Walnut). Get extra hot sauce (it's hot!), add onions. So good! But hurry, they are reportedly closing at the end of the year to make more room for those hideous apartments that are sprouting all over town like weeds.

                                    7 Replies
                                    1. re: WildSwede

                                      in the Pasadena area, this is a strong choice. If something better exists, I haven't found it. I am curious about Ernie's Mexicatessan suggestion, but I went once and didn't like it. Maybe I ordered the wrong thing, which I have to have a talent for...

                                      1. re: kotatsu

                                        I am also partial to the Mijares ground beef hard tacos. Pretty pedestrian, but I add their fantastic salsa and their super green goddess dressing (I also dip my chips into both - try it!!) and it is just SO good!

                                        1. re: kotatsu

                                          If it's still there, Taco Par on Washington in Pasadena

                                        2. re: WildSwede

                                          Excuse me?! I like Rick's burgers but their tacos are pretty much the same as the taco kits for gringos found in the grocery, down to the shells- generic crispy - def not crunchy.
                                          We can agree that we hope Rick finds a new location.

                                          1. re: ilikefood

                                            to each their own honey, to each their own!

                                            1. re: ilikefood

                                              I don't know when you last had the tacos from Rick's, but at least at the one in Silverlake (which I was talking about) they are definitely NOT made with the pre-fab grocery store shells -- they are make with deep-fried crispy (real corn) tortillas, with seasoned beef and stuffed with cheese, lettuce and tomato. Very satisfying when you are looking for a hard-shell taco.

                                              1. re: DanaB

                                                I was referring to Rick's Pasadena (WildSwede's post). I'm not familiar w/ Rick's Silver Lake, but based on your topic: "I found the hard shell taco place in Silverlake -- Ricks." 11/16/06, I'd like to try. I'm pretty sure they're related in name only.

                                          2. I actually had one at El Gran Burrito (Santa Monica at Vermont) and it was crazy good. I had ordered and paid for a tamale but they were out of the flavor I wanted so rather than giving me a refund (I didn't want the other kinds they had left), the guy asked me if I wanted a taco instead and I said yes. I didn't even know they had hardshell tacos on the menu, but apparently they do. It wasn't the fill-fold-and-fry kind, btw, but the preformed-corn-U-shell type, which is what I think you're looking for (c.f. Taco Bell).

                                            1. It's always going to be TACOS POR FAVOR for me! Such good stuff - and totally inexpensive! Nothing fake about these crunchy bits of goodness!

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: SChalfant

                                                Completely agree with Tacos Por Favor. Everything there is actually very good, but their hard tacos are awesome.

                                                But even better, in my book, would be Los Tacos (Santa Monica, near Fairfax, next to 7-11). Fill-Fold-Fry style, and then they put the cheese on, and then they put it in the salamander to make it all nice and melty.

                                              2. Rick's in Pasadena, Taco Lita in Arcadia, or DIY @ Home. =)

                                                La pinche huero tacos

                                                1. I agree with SChalfant, Tacos Por Favor has outstanding crunchy tacos! In fact, I have never been disappointed eating there and I've sampled a lot of their menu. 14th and Olympic in Santa Monica. Check it out....just not the times that I go. :)

                                                  1. I often see D.F. as a featured style at many a truck/stand. I'd have to guess that D.F. stands for deep fried, but for all I know it could mean anything (like deportivo futbol). If I'm guessing right (which is rare), then this version of hard-shelled goodness can be found relatively easily at trucks and stands throughout LA.

                                                    Well, seems I'm wrong again. Someone just told me that DF is shorthand for Mexico City's metro area, Distrito Federal, and has nothing to do with deep frying.

                                                    1. Pepe's in LaCanada. If you go on Tuesday they are $1.25 each. A great deal.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: xciceroguy

                                                        I love Pepe's fish tacos! Delicious! I was just there last week and was eyeballing the peoples' plates next to us - they had the hard tacos and I was almost swayed to order them, but the fish always wins out! You can get the same at their sister restaurant, Margarita's, on Rosemead Bl. in Pasadena.

                                                      2. I cannot believe that there aren't any good crunchy taco shops in LA. Most surprisingly is that the majority of taco shops here do not make crunchy tacos. Why is this the case??? I've searched in the South Bay, South Gate, Huntington Park area and haven't found a damn place that make these tacos. I prefer these over the soft tacos any day of the week.
                                                        If you want some delicious crunchy tacos, you'll have to move down the 405 to San Diego. There are plenty of taco shops that make delicious crunchy tacos. One of my favorite is Cotixan, located on Gennesee and Balboa. Some of the taco shops in South Park (yes, that's the name of the area) and North Park also make really good c.t. Yum, yum.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: Tacofanatic

                                                          Oh but you are so wrong! In South Gate, there is Badiraguato located at 3070 Firestone Blvd. (323)563-3450. They have some dynamite carne con papas tacos. For those that prefer ground beef tacos, Lupe's on 3rd St. a little ways east of King Tacos makes some good gb tacos. Ordonez located on Garfield just south of the Pomona freeway now has potato beef tacos on their daily menu. Give it another try.

                                                        2. I knew that this topic sounded familiar, so searching on 'hard shell taco' came up with this one: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/337200

                                                          My local Poblanita Express has the folded, shredded beef variety. Also I remember visiting a Texas style 'puffy' taco place in Whittier. From an ancient post: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/90102

                                                          Tacofanatic, I don't understand your post. This topic is filled with possibilities but perhaps not in your neighborhood. If you disagree with a specific location as being 'great crispy taco' then by all means let us know.

                                                          In order to see the geographical distribution of these places AND to become familiar with Google Maps, I plotted them here:
                                                          It didn't take that long to create actually.
                                                          Due to the rumored arrival of the Hub feature I'm not going to invest a lot of time into many Google specific maps - I want to use Place links instead.

                                                          So many taco joints, so little time....

                                                          Poblanita Express
                                                          14329 Hawthorne Blvd, Lawndale, CA 90260

                                                          Arturo's Puffy Taco
                                                          15693 Leffingwell Rd, Whittier, CA 90604

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: DiveFan

                                                            WOW. Your map is totally great! Gracias!

                                                          2. there are good hard shell (duro) beef tacos at the taco stand next to the car wash just above Hollywood blvd and Vermont. I think it's on the corner of vermont and prospect.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: rednyellow

                                                              I think, perhaps -- and then, depending -- that my favorite hardshell taco in LA is lovingly created and served at Astroburger (the one on Santa Monica Bl.). Oh, the horror! Seriously, they deep fry what appears to be a frozen corn tortilla stuffed with ground beef, then pack it with lettuce, tomato, and tons of cheese. Serve with extra cups of the "red sauce" (seems like mildly sweet and spicy ketchup) and BAM! Awesome, greasy, chin-dribblin', hand wringing, shell-crunching absolute taco nirvana.

                                                              It's the taco equivalent of Vicoden(tm).

                                                            2. Tacos Dorados at My Taco on York in Highland Park. And from what I understand, the chicken and the potato versions are "authentic."

                                                              Regardless of authenticity, they are goooooooood, especially when dressed with liberal amounts of chipotle salsa!

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: garvanza girl

                                                                I love, love, love My Taco. I prefer the chicken over the beef-but there's nothing like that potato one.

                                                                The taquitos are really good too. Both the steak and chicken ones.

                                                              2. A fellow chowhounder told me about El Locos on Atlantic. That's the only other hard shell beef taco that's come close to Pepe's for me.

                                                                1. RICK"S
                                                                  on Fletcher/Riverside...yup, it's a drive through burger place but they make one of the best, fresh, crispy fried tacos I've had!!!!