HOME > Chowhound > Los Angeles Area >

Discussion

Tacos in Venice?

I am staying in Venice for a long weekend, near Abbot Kinney. Can anyone recommend a good taco place in the area? Must have good margaritas as well.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. You might give Casablanca a try and see what you think.

    -----
    Casablanca
    220 Lincoln Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

    2 Replies
    1. re: Servorg

      casablanca has wonderful tortillas, but i found everything else rather uninspiring. the taco truck at lincoln just south of rose is good for dinners. i love the fusion-taco trucks that often visit Abbot Kinney at nite. I haven't found a fantastic mexican place on the westside like the incredible My Taco in Highland Park, but I do think that Border Grill food is fantastic. Actually, there's my recommendation -- Border.

      -----
      Border Grill
      1445 4th St., Santa Monica, CA 90401

      My Taco Restaurant
      6300 York Blvd Ste 4, Los Angeles, CA 90042

      1. re: echoparkdirt

        Border Grill - that's a really good one that I totally missed the el blippo on my Chowdar.

        -----
        Border Grill
        1445 4th St., Santa Monica, CA 90401

    2. I've found it much easier to find the style of tacos with the soft tortilla, versus the type of taco with the fried tortilla (dorados or flauta style), to be far more prevalent and available at places that don't serve margaritas - mostly taquerias. Also, the fillings tend to be far more diverse. When the demand for margaritas with Mexican food goes on the priority list, the choices for taqueria-type tacos shortens the list dramatically IMHO, particularly in the Westside. The places you will find that do both will pretty much be second or third tier Chow recs at best.

      Servorg has mentioned Casablanca, a pretty good sit-down type of Mexican seafoodish kind of restaurant. I haven't been in over a decade, but they used to offer tortillas that were made on site and live entertainment. Another is La Cabana almost kitty-corner from Casablanca. The food is better at Casablanca, while the hours and margaritas are more abundant at La Cabana.

      Another few choices would be Tlapazola Grill on Venice, just east of Abbot Kinney. They are Oaxacan-ish/fusiony hybrid Mexican dining with a good tequila list and tacos on their lunch menu. The quality in general is good, but the food is considered to have less soul and authenticity than more traditional places.

      Moving over to Venice-adjacent you'll find Paco's which is very popular because of their combinations (which includes tacos), their margaritas (mostly slushy style), and the ladies who press out make fresh tortillas (much like Casablanca). There is usually a line here for dinner and on weekends in general, so go early.

      Casa Sanchez is a few blocks down the street from Pancho's. While they don't offer tacos on their menu - they only serve dinner as far as I know - they do offer flautas - a semi-deconstructioned tacos dorados - and their margarita list is adequate. The reason I mention this place is because not only is Casa Sanchez the nicest most well appointed of Mexican restaurants in the Westside, they usually have some kind of live entertainment as well - very talented folks. And if you feel like having taqueria-style tacos and want your margaritas too, start out at Taqueria Sanchez which is literally across the street, and is also owned by the same Sanchez family. You can get your taco fix there, and mosey across the street and finish off with some cocktails and live entertainment.

      -----
      Taqueria Sanchez
      4541 S Centinela Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90066

      Tlapazola Grill
      636 Venice Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

      3 Replies
      1. re: bulavinaka

        I beg to differ with the comparison between Casablanca and La Cabana....its been a couple 'o years since ive been to Casablanca and though i might agree the food is a bit better, there corn tortillas were nothing to "write home about." On the other hand, La Cabana does make great thick corn tortillas, on site. Neither makes memorable comida but the tortillas at Cabana are well worth the trip!

        1. re: lapizzamaven

          I should have qualified my memories of both places. My memories of Casablanca were pretty much for dinner where I was coherent. My memories of La Cabana were, well, I don't have much of a memory of those visits because I was pretty shit-faced. It's been a long time since I've been drunk enough to be hauled into La Cabana, so let's have your rec stand.

          1. re: bulavinaka

            O well, at least you remember you were shit faced....I dont drink much anymore and can wholeheartedly recommend La Cabana's corn tortillas!

      2. Can anyone speak to the non-vegetarian tacos at Lula's on Main Street (downtown Santa Monica)? I am a vegetarian and have enjoyed their potato rajas tacos. And they certainly have margaritas.

        1. I'm surprised that no one has mentioned Casa Linda on AK. It's a taco "joint" more than a restaurant, but I think it has some of the tasiest tacos in the area. 2nd only to some of the trucks. The tacos are a little bit greasier than I'd like, but holy cow is the meat cooked with some amazing flavor.

          Tacos Por Favor in Santa Monica is another local favorite.

          Note: places that serve margaritas tend to not have great tacos. The best tacos are at either trucks or places like the two mentioned above that aren't really full-on restaurants. Yeah I love kicking back margaritas at Casablanca or La Cabana or Lula's, but you go there to drink more than to eat great mexican food.

          -----
          Tacos Por Favor
          1406 Olympic Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90404

          Casa Linda
          1357 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

          5 Replies
          1. re: QualityMart

            I know you know, but with the OP specifying margaritas being a must really narrows down the options; thus, the absence of recs...

            1. re: bulavinaka

              I looked at this type of request and the subsequent recommendations as the best tacos that can be had ALONG with the margarita component instead of going somewhere that has the best tacos and then going to a second location for the drink part.

              1. re: Servorg

                I agree, and the chowpup in me tells me to get my taco fix at a more Chow-like source that serves first rate tacos, and get my margs and some apps somewhere else, but I know it's just not the same if one is hankerin' for both. Logistics shouldn't be so complicated but... Ciao Bob mentioned in another thread that he likes bringing his own margs to Mariscos Chente, and serves up house's staff along with his group - not a bad idea, no?

                1. re: bulavinaka

                  I agree with MC if you are hankering for Marlin tacos, but if you want a greater choice of carne you are out of luck. We actually like the "Americanized" tacos at Don Antonio's on Pico, which isn't very far from the Venice area (and has a full bar as well).

                  -----
                  Don Antonio's
                  11755 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

                  1. re: bulavinaka

                    Yes, bulavinaka, thanks for remembering my MC M.O.; and, when I am really lazy, I just buy the pre-made jug of Cuervo Margs at Costco and zip up to Chente, rather than make my own. It makes for a very satisfying solution to a vexing problem for me. I queried Jonathon Gold on this topic, which he called "one of the true philosophical questions of the age," in an Ask Mr. Gold piece in the LA Weekly not too long ago
                    http://blogs.laweekly.com/squidink/20...

                    I second your Paco's recommendation. Paco's food is good enough, probably better than what the OP can get, routinely, in Chicago and has a fine -- but not first class -- margarita.

                    for a very satisfying evening.

            2. Thanks for the recommendations and the feedback on finding good tacos and margs in the same spot. My group would certainly be willing to go to two different spots for our taco and margarita fix, so if that changes the recommendations I am all ears!

              Also, we are from Chicago, so we're new to the concept of food trucks - sounds like that might be our best bet for tacos?

              6 Replies
              1. re: lchifoodie

                I've heard that the standard of Mexican cuisine in Chicago has been on the upside for the past decade or so. Still, I don't think you'll be disappointed with what we have here (LA's Mexican food traditions of course go back to the Mission and Rancho days, and at a more accessible level starting post WWII in the Westside).

                The new breed of food trucks were plentiful along Abbot Kinney (a main drag in Venice) until the brick & mortar businesses along that popular stretch got so fed up that they are actively making it extremely difficult for the trucks to even park on the street. One place that almost always has a food truck is in the parking lot next to The Brig, at the corner of Abbot Kinney and Palms Blvd. The owner of The Brig (David Reiss - a local foodie of sorts who has at least a few fingers in quite a few food and drink related ventures) likes the food trucks, and so he is willing to acommodate one to a few trucks on his lot. One will usually show up around mid-afternoon and stay until the wee hours. However, you're in luck if you want more traditional Mexican food truck fare.

                La Isla Bonita Mexican food truck has been a staple in Venice I think since the 80s - for sure since the 90s. They usually park on Rose Avenue, between 3rd Avenue and 4th Avenue some time in the late morning and usually scoot out by the late afternoon. They rate pretty high with the local and working population around Venice. Another truck (and IMHO better) is La Oaxaquenia Mexican food truck. Like changing of the guard, as La Isla Bonita leaves, La Oaxaquena shows up around 6PM to whenever. The set up on LIncoln, about a block south of Rose (about four blocks walking distance). As the name implies, Oaxacan food can be had at this truck (memelas, tlayudas), but they have a whole list of standard Mexican taqueria items and fillings (al pastor, carne asada, lengua, chorizo, etc).

                A taqueria called Bennie's recently opened up on Lincoln (at Sunset Avenue) as well. They're okay. I had high hopes for them, as they have the vertical rotisserie to properly roast and serve a traditional al pastor, but my tacos were prepared from al pastor pre-cut and sitting in a steam table pan. One needs to get the al pastor sizzling and sliced right off the spit (along with some bits of pineapple) in order to take in the full flavor. Still, this may be worth a try as my experience there was about a few weeks after they opened - they've been open now for three or four months. Maybe call ahead and find out when the rotisserie is actually fired up?

                One place in the Westside with a long pedigree (I think since 1947) is Gallegos Mexican Deli on Venice Blvd, one block west of Centinela in Mar Vista. Located in a typical corner strip mall, they offer some great traditional Mexican cuisine. Their specialty (at least to me) is their barbacoa, but I have to admit that everything I've tried there has hit a nice balance of seasoning, flavor and texture. I usually get their burritos and various tamales, but their tacos are good as well. They have a small salsa bar, but each salsa hits a perfect note for what it is supposed to accomplish. And the tortilla chips are probably the most perfect I've had in the Westside. I almost always get an extra bag and their guacamole to go.

                Other (and very respectable) Chowhounds have already made mention of really good taco recs - Tacomiendo, Casa Linda's (on Abbot Kinney - I haven't tried it myself), Taqueria Sanchez, Tacos Por Favor (mostly known for their chorizo queso taco), and La Playita (also on Lincoln, two blocks north of Rose) all come to mind.

                Border Grill - the one that echoparkdirt mentions - is probably at the zenith of finding a place that will serve a nice taco with a nice margarita. I can't tell you that it is the most authentic of the places mentioned, but the food is of very high quality (they tend to offer some very traditional along side some fusion or higher end plates - sometimes mixing traditional with nontraditional), and the two founders (Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger whose names are joined at the hip) are very passionate about food.

                Other than the tacos, I still think Casa Sanchez will give a visitor the fullest effect of the grand Mexican dining experience. The extremely well appointed casa-style interior, the entertainment, and the margaritas will score high - maybe do a taco crawl around Venice and its surrounding communities and end up there...

                -----
                Border Grill
                1445 4th St., Santa Monica, CA 90401

                Taqueria Sanchez
                4541 S Centinela Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90066

                Tacomiendo
                11462 Gateway Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

                La Playita
                3306 Lincoln Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405

                Gallegos Mexican Deli
                12470 Venice Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90066

                Tacos Por Favor
                1406 Olympic Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90404

                La Oaxaquena
                1234 Lomita Blvd, Harbor City, CA 90710

                La Isla Bonita
                3630 Saviers Rd, Oxnard, CA 93033

                Casa Linda
                1357 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

                1. re: bulavinaka

                  bennie's is such a tease -- it looks like it could be a great place from the outside and the kitchen but i thought it was meh

                  if i was looking to emphasize the margaritas, i would go to Cabana on rose , which is lots of fun and looks exactly like you want your margarita place to look -- red leather booths, colorful interior, patio, etc. the food, however, is not its strong point.

                  1. re: bulavinaka

                    I goto the la oaxaquena truck pretty frequently and think it has good tacos.

                    One could eat tacos at la oaxaquena and then walk 1/2 block to either casablanca or la cabana for margaritas.

                  2. re: lchifoodie

                    If you are open to the idea of separating the margarita from the taco's, I would second B's reco of doing Casa Sanchez for the drinks. It's definitely a nice place with a full bar, maybe get some light snacks and appetizers if you're still hungry after the taco crawl.

                    Although I like the food and concept, I find Casa Sanchez's entree's to be a touch dumbed down and slightly expensive for what it is. We prefer other places for refined Mexican, but it's the best we can do the Westside. Be warned that the mariachi band can get very loud and overwhelm any attempts at conversation. We usually ask for an outside table so we can talk and eat in peace.

                    If you are going to do taco's first and end up at Casa Sanchez last, it's probably easiest to start at Taco's Por Favor and work your way south down Lincoln. Have fun!

                    1. re: lchifoodie

                      Again, go to Casa Linda to check out their tacos at some point, even if not for your main feast. It's right on AK. Really the best tacos in the immediate area, IMO.

                      -----
                      Casa Linda
                      1357 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

                      1. re: QualityMart

                        For the OP: Casa LInda, corner of Abbot Kinney and California Ave - right across the street from Abbot's Habit Coffee house. It's about three blocks north of Venice Blvd. I haven't been but I think QualityMart's tastes are first rate. The place is owned by the folks who run Hal's a few doors to the north, which has been an Abbot Kinney standard way before the street was uber-cool.

                    2. Tacomiendo is GREAT. But no margaritas at all.

                      -----
                      Tacomiendo
                      11462 Gateway Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

                      1. I have to admit I debated posting this rec in order to keep it to myself:
                        La Isla Bonita taco truck, parks between 4th and 5th on Rose btwn 11am-5pm, every day but Thursday- absolute best Al Pastor tacos in Venice, $1.50ea, and awesome ceviche tostadas for $2. This is classic, first-wave LA taco truck grub.
                        Then, head up Rose to La Cabana for your margaritas- skip the house version and step up to the cadillacs. La Cabana isn't the best for food, and isn't the most authentic place out there, but they are funky inside, and have been there forever.

                        -----
                        La Isla Bonita
                        3630 Saviers Rd, Oxnard, CA 93033

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: jdwdeville

                          Hm, you say it as if it's not consistently slammed with crowds ... the word has long, long been out. :)

                          1. re: QualityMart

                            Oh, I know, but imagine if it spread wider! I'd have a heck of a time getting my ceviche then. I actually love this truck so much (owned and run by a few generations of the same family) that I had them cater my wedding this year. How's that for an endorsement?

                        2. Tlapazola Grill, hands down. Their carne asada is the first that I've experienced that isn't swimming in grease, and is very tasty.

                          -----
                          Tlapazola Grill
                          636 Venice Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

                          1. Long overdue, but thanks to all for the input. We ended up going to the La Isla Bonita truck and then to La Cabana for margs. Both were awesome and really helped us get over our Badger Rose Bowl loss from the day before. :)

                            -----
                            La Isla Bonita
                            3630 Saviers Rd, Oxnard, CA 93033