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Best hard tacos?

When I was a kid in Connecticut we had Tuesday taco nights . What my mom cooked was seasoned hamburger meat, shredded cheese, shredded lettuce, and salsa from a jar. The taco shells were always hard and crumbly. I don't have much nostalgia for those dinners and until recently I hadn't had a hard taco in 15 years.

I had one a El Pollo Loco and it was delicious -- and started my carving. I just loved the combination of the crispy taco shell, warm chicken, and crunchy cold lettuce and tomatoes.

Next, I had Burrito King and that was awful. Over the weekend I had El Conquistador and that was lame. Where should I go for a really good hard taco?

Tito's is to far and I'm sure there are some places in Silver Lake, Hollywood, Glendale, Pasadena?

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  1. The monster taco -- the one with the slice of American cheese -- at Jack in the Box. Not the best by a long shot but truly a guilty pleasure that takes me back to my childhood. Might do the trick...

    5 Replies
    1. re: a_and_w

      Haha! I gotta agree with you on this. Even Del Taco's are delicious!

      1. re: a_and_w

        I went to Jack in the Box on the weekend and they didn't have the monster taco on the menu anymore. Just the regulars at 2 for 99 cents.

        1. re: monkuboy

          Nooo!!! Stopped by yesterday and confirmed -- no more Monster Taco at Jack in the Box. May they rue the day...

          1. re: a_and_w

            Almost 5 years later, but since this thread got bumped anyway...

            The Monster Tacos are now back.

            I still prefer the regular size ones, but MT fans should be happy.

            1. re: Jelly71

              Thanks for that info. I've always been partial to the MT's and I probably would not have known without your post.

      2. Henry's Tacos, favorite of Mary Kate & Ashley Olsen (twins)

        Henry's Tacos
        11401 Moorpark St, North Hollywood, CA 91602

        1. The El Tarasco hard taco might help with the fix your are seeking. I like the Manhattan Beach location

          El Tarasco Restaurant
          316 Rosecrans Ave, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266

          1 Reply
          1. I love the tacos dorados (crispy tacos) at My Taco in Highland Park. You can get them filled with chicken, beef, or potato. I don't think they'll be anything like what your Connecticut mom made, but they are so, so good that I'm hoping it will not matter.

            My Taco
            6300 York Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90042

            1 Reply
            1. re: Vaya Con Carne

              That lamb tacos dorados plate is a steal. Paired with a nice cup of agua fresca and I'm set.

            2. Quite far from where you've mentioned, but my current hard taco love is the shredded chicken taco at Hermosa Beach Mexican Cuisine (most generic name ever but it's on Hermosa Ave in Hermosa Beach and has an anime character painted on its window). The shredded chicken taco is the only one that comes in the crispy shell and is lovingly made to order by the nicest people. All their food is sooo good.

              1 Reply
              1. re: TracyS

                Another one not in your area but should you find yourself in Huntington Beach, try La Choza on Edinger their shredded beef crunchy taco is delicious!

              2. It's been a while since I've been, but have you tried Pepe's? Their hard tacos were yummy the last time I went! There's a branch in Pasadena, Alhambra and Azusa - I hear there is one in the OC, but not sure.

                1 Reply
                1. re: truetraveler

                  Pepe's are good, especially with their chunky guacamole. In the area I also love the hard shell tacos at Mexi-Catessan in Monterey Park

                2. $1 taco night at Barragan's is every Monday after 4pm.....go over right now. Hard tacos freshly made ground beef or chicken. Great chips and salsa too.

                  Barragan's Mexican Restaurant
                  1538 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026

                  Barragan's Mexican Restaurant
                  814 S Central Ave, Glendale, CA 91204

                  Barragan's Mexican Restaurant
                  730 N Victory Blvd, Burbank, CA 91502

                  1. I'm a fan of Josie's Place in Gardena, but this is far from you. The chicken tacos are tasty.

                    16616 S Normandie Ave, Gardena, CA 90247

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: annapurna7

                      taos dorados at alegria on sunset -- chix taco is killer.

                    2. Its been a few yrs since I've been, but I remember Campos having a pretty good (hard shell) turkey taco.

                      1. The gringo taco at Taco Plus is my flashback hardshell. There's no tomato on it, but there is pico de gallo at the salsa bar.

                        Taco Plus
                        9824 National Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90034

                        Taco Plus
                        1525 S Bundy Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90025

                        1. I love the hard shell tacos at Paco's Tacos. That is about the only thing worth getting at that place. Not the best, but definitely good.

                          1. That's ridiculous, HB! You talk as though most of us have a secret yearning for gringo tacos. Myself, personally, I'll only eat soft tacos made from dried, ground huitlacoche and filled with chopped hard-shell beetles from the Valley of Mexico lightly drenched in mole de la non-gĂși. The beetles, I mean. Very, very occasionally -- no more than once or twice a week -- I'll stop at Chelos in Banning as I go out to the desert, but those are certainly not what you're talking about. Sure, it's a hard corn shell with highly seasoned and juicy hamburger, lettuce, tomato, yellow cheese, and manufactured sauce -- but that's the only similarity.

                            Chelo's Authentic Mexican Food
                            1987 W Ramsey St, Banning, CA 92220

                            1. I know exactly what you mean. Lucy's El Adobe, on Melrose across the street from Paramount , has good, albeit greasy, bbq hard tacos. Extremely calorically dense.

                              And, no disrespect intended, but I really, really don't get the appeal of JITB tacos. I love their tv ads, which are consistently funny, but the couple of times I've tried the tacos, they tasted as if they were made with dog food. Sorry, I know some folks love them, but they just seem bad to me.

                              Lucy's El Adobe Cafe
                              5536 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: David Kahn

                                Man, do I hear you on the JITB tacos, I do like quite a few things there...best fast food breakfast by far but those tacos, (shudder) cannot gag them down.

                                1. re: bubbles4me

                                  I think maybe JITB T's taste better after a bowl of MJ

                                  1. re: Hershey Bomar

                                    They are definitely drunk/munchie food

                              2. Macho's Tacos next to the car wash on vermont has good hard shell tacos like my mom used to make.,hit the spot when I have the craving.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: johnnyshungry

                                  I second Lucy's El Adobe, but I prefer their chicken hard tacos with shredded chicken, lettuce, cheese and guacamole. Add a combo of their mild and "hot" salsa and you have a delicious experience. The taco dinner is overpriced--in the neighborhood of $15. It comes with a simple but good soup and salad along with rice and beans.

                                2. Get thee to Ricks in Silver Lake!!!! The hard shell beef tacos are delicious and huge. They follow the tried and true formula of your mom's, except the salsa is not from a jar.

                                  Rick's Drive In & Out
                                  2400 Fletcher Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90039

                                  1. I tried RICK'S in Silver Lake today (total dive on the corner of Fletcher and Riverside). The taco's were like a diner version of what my mom made. The shell was greasy and crispy, a few tomato chunks, and tons and tons and tons of ground beef, lettuce, and totally un-melted cheese. I would say if this sounds good to you then it won't get much better than this. This baby's are huge!

                                    I tried El Gran Burrito (AKA Midnight taco or whatever on Sunset and Vermont) and the ordering and seating there is very confusing. The hard taco's shell was ultra thin and delicate like those crackers you sometimes get at Indian restaurants back east. All I remember is sour cream. I never eat sour cream. And the mess I made...

                                    I have to explain that I'm not craving ground beef taco's like at Ricks. I'm just craving hard tacos. So I'll try the places that seem to fit the bill.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: Hershey Bomar

                                      On a tangential note, there are Indian places in LA that serve papadum (lentil wafers) too. They come with every order at Nawab.

                                      1. re: Hershey Bomar

                                        Hard shell tacos at Tacos Delta in Silver Lake. Their hard shell potato tacos are particularly tasty.

                                      2. I like the beef hard tacos at the stand next to the car wash on Vermont just north of Hollywood blvd.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: rednyellow

                                          Machos Tacos.
                                          Cheap, good and just like my mom used to make

                                        2. I am always looking for hard shell tacos made with shredded beef. Several weeks ago i stopped at a small place off the 605 fry on Beverly in Whittier -- El Buen Gusto .These were exactly as they should be. Perfect shell, jucy roast beef, lettuce, tomato, cheese, and some sour cream on the side. Very good service with seating inside or outside. Very clean place.

                                          El Buen Gusto (Hard Shell shredded beef or chicken tacos and Huevos Rancheros)
                                          10820 Beverly Blvd # A2 (East of the 605 at Beverly, Workmen Mill Rd. and Norwalk Blvd. Next to Baskin Robbins)
                                          Whittier, CA 90601

                                          1. Hello? Nobody's rec'd Benito's Tacos? Shredded beef? Check. Queso cotija? Check. Deep fried? Check. Don't miss this joint in your travels! 2 or 3 locations... one at fairfax @ beverley and another on pico somewhere. Way better than all the other recs in these comments. Oh, and don't forget to order 3 rolled tacos with guacamole. Reminds me of my time in San Diego with all the Roberto's, Alberto's, Alaberto's, Jilberto's, etc.

                                            1. Any suggestions for great hard shell beef tacos on the Westside?

                                              8 Replies
                                              1. re: flowergirl

                                                I actually like Titos Tacos for Hard Shell on the Westside..

                                                Tito's Tacos
                                                11222 Washington Pl, Culver City, CA 90230

                                                1. re: flowergirl

                                                  Paco's Tacos on Centinela just barely south of Washington Blvd. in Mar Vista with their fresh housemade tortillas (they even have cochinita pibil, which is not always the case for westside places). And if you make it there then wander down the street south another couple of hundred yards and go to Mariscos Chente for unreal Sinaloan seafood (shrimp, fried fish or cocktails with octopus and shrimp) in some of the most incredible sauces you will ever experience.

                                                  Pacos Tacos
                                                  4141 S Centinela Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90066

                                                  Mariscos Chente
                                                  4532 S Centinela Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90066

                                                    1. re: Hershey Bomar

                                                      I'll second Tacos Por Favor. Also Don Antonios on Pico on the Westside serves up some old school ground beef greasy hard tacos.

                                                      1. re: kproq323

                                                        Doh!! Hard to believe I forgot Don Antonio's since it's a regular stop for us. Great recommendation and I second this. They have picadillo (ground beef) tacos which are great as well as shredded beef and (and then taco Wednesday when all tacos are 99 cents each).

                                                        1. re: Servorg

                                                          I'm answering an old thread, but I discovered something not too long ago that I was unaware of in food from Mexico. One day at Taqueria Los Anaya on Adams I ordered a chorizo quesadilla and expected a big flour tortilla folded over with chorizo and cheese and grilled. That's what I used to get when I frequented the El Chato truck when coming home from listening to music. Instead I got a fried corn tortilla with some white cheese and chorizo somewhat like a hard shell taco. It was quite tasty in a arterial clogging way, although the chorizo seemed a better homemade type with less of the orange grease. I asked one of the daughters and I found out it's a common style in Mexico. The family is from Jalisco. I had gotten a chicken quesadilla there before and it was the more familiar (to me) folded and grilled flour tortilla with chicken and cheese inside. The hard shelled quesadilla was pretty tasty. Someone with more knowledge (that ought to be easy) might fill us in on the details. In the meantime, I'll try to be prudent an order a chorizo quesadilla every so often.

                                                          1. re: Feed_me

                                                            Taqueria Los Anaya is really a little gem (well, not as little since they expanded into the next door space) and the owners are such nice people.

                                                            I know you have championed this place, (along with Dommy who turned me on to their chilaquilies) and I had such a good experience there when I went for breakfast and tried their chilaquilles with chorizo. So the chorizo in the "tacos" is of a different consistency than that served with the chilaquilies then? What about the flavor profile? Is that different too?

                                                            I need to get back over there and try more items, but my days are so structured of late it's only on Sunday in the early AM when I can usually get over to these places.

                                                            1. re: Servorg

                                                              Sorry I didn't respond earlier Servorg. Guess my impending senility is taking over. The chorizo in the fried quesadilla is the same stuff as you see in the chilaquilles. Being fried in the corn tortilla does change the character a little bit. The Anayas close early (5 pm) on Sunday because they want some family time. So I have to eat dinner elsewhere on Sundays.

                                                  1. You should try Tops Jr. on Main Street in Alhambra. Certainly not a taco spot, but they do them just they way you like 'em.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: ohdaylay

                                                      i like pepe's hard taco with guac in alhmabra....also do like jack in the box 2 for 99cent taco :)

                                                    2. I can't believe nobody mentioned Taco Lita in Arcadia. Best crunchy tacos hands down. Exactly how you would make them at home. Seasoned ground beef, loads of shredded cheese, shredded lettuce, and a slice of tomato. Rip open a packet of their taco sauce and you are in heaven.

                                                      1. my vote goes to the hard shell al pastor tacos @ el taco llama in NoHo (whitsett/burbank)

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: ns1

                                                          This is my neighborhood too, Valley Village, you will thank me once you try these hard shell tacos at El Taco Loco on Laurel Canyon & Chandler. I order their 3 King size hard tacos al pastor, my photo will speak for me. It's the only thing I order here over and over

                                                        2. Second Henry's. They really invented this type of taco, and still do it better than anyone.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: jesstifer

                                                            Meh. Would rather have del taco personally (at a fraction of the price)

                                                          2. Just had two hard shell tacos, lamb and chicken from the India's Jones Truck and they were great. First hard shell tacos in a looong time, and with an Indian bent. Really tasty. Corner of Wilshire and Barry in West LA.

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: Thor123

                                                              Are they there daily? I never knew?

                                                              I am up 25 stories on the top floor and hadn't noticed.

                                                            2. Westside Tacos:

                                                              I really like the rancheros tacos (beef and potato) at Lares (Santa Monica) and the ground beef tacos at The Talpa (West LA). FYI a taco with rice and beans at The Talpa is just $5.75 for lunch on a weekday.

                                                              Also like Tacos por Favor (any taco can be made crunchy), Tito's, and Del Taco.

                                                              Are the potato tacos at Border Grill crunchy? I remember loving those.

                                                              1 Reply