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Where to get the best tacos west side

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I'm new to town (Venice) and looking to go on an intensive taco tour of the city -- starting with my neck of the woods. I don't even know where to begin and so am seeking all recommendations -- there seem to be a zillion places out there and it's hard to tell one shack or truck from another.

Thanks!

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  1. check out bandini's taco blog.

    its a must read.

    My favorites on the westside are:

    La Playaita on Lincoln
    La Oaxana Taco Truck on Lincoln
    Taqueria sanchez on Inglewood/Culver

    Link: http://tacohunt.blogspot.com/

    1 Reply
    1. re: xericx

      X - I respect your takes a lot ...

      But I have a question:

      Do you think La Playita is as good as it's always been. I haven't liked it as much as I used to the last couple of times I've been.

      I always was a shrimp burrito guy there and also liked the shrimp tacos. I have eaten the other tacos, too. Last couple of times, didn't turn me on. Not sure why but the flavor just seemed muted, more bland and the tortillas weren't that tasty.

      Was it just the odds catching up with me, as in, been there so many times I was bound to have a couple of bad meals? Have you noticed a difference?

    2. Titos Tacos on Washington pl. @ Sepulveda.

      13 Replies
      1. re: chris

        Be aware that Tito's has very divergent opinions. Some people go out of their way to stand in a long line to eat there because they like it. Others think Tito's is completely disgusting. Living in the area for 16 years I'm one of the "thumbs down" crowd. I was told that if I had grown up around here and eaten at Tito's when I was a youngster I would understand.

        Still the lines cannot be simply due to nostalgia.

        1. re: Jimbo

          I grew up 1.5 miles from Tito's and have never lived more than 5 miles away. That makes about 40 years of occasionally eating Tito's and I just don't get it. For what it is, a classic american hardshell taco, it's fine. But it's really to the gringo taste you know? Lots of lettuce and cheddar over spiced hamburger. Since my taste's don't lie that way, I just can't wait in a long line for it. Then again, I don't turn my nose up at it when someone brings a box of them to a pot-luck. My 11 year old just looked over my shoulder and said, "Tito's, yuck!" Then again, she's an 11 year old gringa who likes tacos de lengua.

          I don't pretend to know if it's the best or not but my local go-to when I want something that taste's like what I had in Jalisco is Taqueria Sanchez.

          I'll tell you a place to avoid, Howdy's in downtown Culver City. Very pretentiously tries to be mexican market food but very expensive for what it is, which is only okay.

          Kurt in CC

          1. re: CCKurt

            Excuse me, i agree, except for it is not spiced hamburger, it is a really good meat, I have heard it is Bull, maybe that is bull, I do not know. But it is what it is, a great gringo/american taco.

            1. re: Burger Boy

              Re Tito's taco meat: I graduated Culver High at the end of the 60's - back in those days the rumor was it was cat meat. I only ate the burritos for a long time - 99 cents all meat, tacos were something like 35 cents. Salsa was outside the windows, you filled your own little cups. It was pink, foamy, sort of pureed or something - like nothing you saw anywhere else - but tasted great with those hot, greasy chips inside the cardboard box. How the salsa was made was my question. The meat is much better now, nothing like before.

              1. re: JMil

                Well one time my wife saw a license plate frame that said on the top, "I like cats" and on the bottom it said, "They taste like chicken."

                Anyway, I've been going to Tito's since 1972 and am still crazy about that place. I heard those rumors, too. I haven't noticed any change in the taste, but then I go a lot less often these days since I don't live in the area anymore.

                1. re: monkuboy

                  Well, all this debate has inspired me to see what the deal is with Tito's Tacos -- good or bad, it'll be an adventure and I'll feel like I'm getting a taste of Westside history.

                  1. re: galley girl

                    And I can't wait to try Taqueria Sanchez next time I can get over the hill through that wretched 405 south.
                    At least Tito's is still standing, gone is the old hangout Woody's south on Sepulveda - I'm talking really long gone for char-grill burgers , a condiment and sundae topping bar in an Alpine style building.

              2. re: Burger Boy

                Re Tito's taco meat: I graduated Culver High at the end of the 60's - back in those days the rumor was it was cat meat. I only ate the burritos for a long time - 99 cents all meat, tacos were something like 35 cents. Salsa was outside the windows, you filled your own little cups. It was pink, foamy, sort of pureed or something - like nothing you saw anywhere else - but tasted great with those hot, greasy chips inside the cardboard box. How the salsa was made was my question. The meat is much better now, nothing like before.

              3. re: CCKurt

                Just want to point out that it's not hamburger in their tacos, it's shredded "100% steer" beef. Also, when I think of "classic american hardshell taco" I think of the Taco Bell version with the pre-formed shell and crumbly hamburger meat. My opinion, of course, but to me there's nothing like Tito's (in a positive sense, although I realize some people say thank goodness!).

            2. re: chris
              a
              Alfredo Garcia

              I would need to be drunk to ever eat at Tito's again. It's the type of Mexican food that my grandmother would make from a Betty Crocker cookbook

              1. re: Alfredo Garcia

                I was first taken to Tito's in college by a guy who grew up here. I thought it was terrible.

                Flash forward 10 years, I gave it another try. I guess tastes changed, because now I love the place.

                But only the burritos. I don't care for the tacos - too bland. The burritos with that salsa are fantastic. And the price is still low.

                As for the "gringo" accusation, the place is owned by non-gringos, and at least half (probably more) of the customers are also non-gringo. "Authenticity" is a very subjective thing.

                1. re: scoot

                  Had my first Tito's Tacos Experience last weekend. I love mexican food, and this isnt the best, but holy good gravy it was gooooood eatin! Its not king taco, but its good comfort food if you like tacos and great salsa. Ok, its not even salsa, its tomato pureed....but oh so friggin good. Hard to explain, but you have to eat it understand.

              2. re: chris

                I couldn't agree more. TITOS IS THE BEST. Maybe not for everyone, but I was an LA city school kid (which is to say that I don't really judge whether I will like something over naysayers opinions of meat...if you've survived school lunch meat, you will survive anything). Bean, beef and cheese burrito + two tacos with cheese and I am one happy (and fully satisfied) girl.

              3. tacos la flama - pico/brrington. $1 tacos - carne asada, chicken, carnitas, or al pastor. delicious.

                2 Replies
                1. re: secret guy

                  Agree the place to start your search is with Bandini's blog "The Great Taco Hunt." Does anyone know if anything is up with him or if he's out of town -- he has no new posts for almost two months.

                  I've never eaten at Tacos La Flama (?) in the mini-mall on Pico and Barrington. I remember noticing them and peeking in when they opened, and I'd have chowed if tacos were only a buck! Which do you prefer?

                  Another vote for Tacqueria Sanchez. And I won't be the only one to advance Tacos Por Favor, on Olympic and 14th, with a great salsa roja, I like the carnitas and the al pastor, and a friendly attitude. Tacos are large and $1.85 each, a bit more expensive but worth it.

                  1. re: secret guy

                    Ooh, thanks! Can't wait to try it and will give you an update!

                  2. Welcome to the neighborhood!! :) I live up the street and hope you enjoy Venice! :)

                    I second Bandini's Blog for great Tacos on the westside and just wanted to add one more, Tacomiendo for Burritos.. Love them! Also the SHrimp Taco/Burrito is the one to get at Taqueria Sanchez! :)

                    --Dommy!

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Dommy!

                      Thanks for the welcome Dommy -- I already adore Venice and the Taco Tour is only going to set it in my heart for good, it seems!

                      Thanks for the recommendations as well!

                      1. re: Dommy!

                        Ditto rec for Tacomiendo.

                        Also suggest El Super Taco (next door to Monte Alban) for tacos, tortas & clayudas.

                      2. Titos is a good gringo taco. I thought they were crap at first until I learned the secret of using the chips to spoon the red salza into every bite of the taco.

                        1. As per other postings, Tito's is at least worth trying. I think it's a fine crunchy taco(as long as you drench it in salsa), and the chile colorado burrito is tops in its league. It's one of those places that people either love or just don't get.

                          As far as something more authentic, you can't miss by trying:

                          Taqueria Sanchez: Outstanding shrimp tacos and fine salsa bar.

                          Tacomeindo: Good tacos all around and served on homemade tortillas that are about 5 minutes old.

                          Tacos por Favor: You can't miss with the chorizo and cheese tacos. Carnitas is often great as well. The salsa roja at the salsa bar is easily among the finest I've had.

                          For sit down experience where you can enjoy a margarita with your food, Pacos is great, if just for the Tacos Cochinita Pibil served on thick freshly made tortillas. Yum!

                          1. It's not a taco shack, but Don Antonio's has $1 Taco Night every Wed. night If you are fine with the "typical" allotment of. tacos (beef, carne asada, chicken, carnitas, etc.), this might be worth a try on your tour. Plan to wait if you try it, but they have a bar with good (not great) margaritas. The nice thing about Don Antonio's, in addition to the delicious food, is that if you go with someone who wants other options, the whole menu is available -- not just the $1 tacos. For example, their Albondigas Soup, which I have been known to dream about.

                            1. I live near Venice and eat a lot of tacos. Some of these recs are already in the thread.

                              Here are the places where I eat tacos in Venice, Mar Vista, Culver City, WLA and Santa Monica. In no particular order:

                              Campo's -

                              I only go to the Campo's on Pico at 20th and only order the turkey tacos. I don't even know where else to get turkey tacos. They are hard shelled and the turkey meat is very flavorful and juicy.

                              Tacos Por Favor:

                              On Olympic, near 14th. I like the chorizo tacos here, also make with a hard shell. I eat both hard shelled and soft tacos, by the way.

                              Tacomiendo:

                              I go to both locations.

                              A lot.

                              One is on Gateway near Pico. The other is on Inglewood near Culver. They use homemade corn tortillas. I prefer the asada tacos and the carnitas. The carnitas tacos are really great here. Super friendly service and good smoothies are available (all their food is great, IMO.)

                              (By the way, I don't like some of the more exotic tacos like cheek, brain, tongue or tripe. So, I can't help you there.)

                              Don Felix

                              On Sawtelle near Washington Place

                              You order in the attached liquor store. Amazing pastor tacos and great, great red salsa.

                              Taqueria Sanchez:

                              I only go to the one at Inglewood and Culver, there is another on Centinela near Washington. I prefer the shrimp tacos here. Very good. They go great with the shrimp burrito, which is outstanding (but I can eat one and have room left over for a taco). Excellent asada, too.

                              Don Chuy's

                              I forget the cross street but it's near Washington Place. I think it's McLaughlin but I can't remember. Soft tacos on great, homemade tortillas. Tuesday is dollar night.

                              Sabor a Mexico:

                              On National near Venice. Extraordinary tacos, expecially on weekends when they have a taco table outside. It's tough to explain how things work at SaM, but you can order inside tacos and outside tacos. Don't miss the pastor, outside. Don't expect expert service, either, just great westside tacos.

                              Don Estillo
                              On Washington near Centinela. My Mexican friends call this place "dollar taco." Cheap, generous, tasty tacos. They also do Atkins plates, which has nothing to do with tacos, but if you are ever watching the carbs ...

                              Rutt's Hawaiian:
                              What? This place on Washington does Hawaiian style tacos. Try the spam tacos, just once. I eat them along with the portuguese sausage tacos on their menu.

                              Finally, Tito's:

                              I like Tito's. Tito's is sort of an institution. I get mad at people who rip on Tito's, though certainly they have the right, I just sort of take it personally, like if you made fun of my sort of obnoxious brother. Tito's Tacos are just that: Tito's tacos. They are hard shelled. Sort of greasy. The salsa is sort of watery. Yet, people line up for them. You should try them with an open mind.

                              I also like fish tacos, but don't know of a great one on the west side.

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: PaulF

                                Have you tried Gloria's Cafe on Venice Blvd.? Great Salvadoran and Mexican food and good, friendly owner / operated family service.

                                Gloria's Cafe
                                10227 Venice Blvd
                                Los Angeles, CA 90034
                                (310) 838-0963

                                1. re: Servorg

                                  I have always meant to go, but never have ...

                                  What's Salvadoran food like?

                                  1. re: PaulF

                                    I have liked everything I have tried there. Their tamales and pupusas are great and I am stuck on their Carne Adobada, which is addictive in its taste. Take a look at their menu:

                                    http://losangeles.menupages.com/resta...

                                2. re: PaulF

                                  Paul, I don't know what it is about the turkey hard-shelled tacos at Campos, but I love them! Is it the red and green salsas? Or just the right amount of greasiness to cheese ratio? Next time you're at Tacos Por Favor try the soft chorizo and cheese tacos.

                                  1. re: whatsfordinner

                                    Thanks for the rec, but I just don't eat cheese, so I just get the chorizo tacos without the cheese.

                                3. Mainly just repeating/affirming others .....
                                  - I work next to La Playita .... it is definitely good, but after they raised prices on shimp/seafood a few months back I haven't been going as much. Burrito's are good but I've been sticking to Carne Asada and Al Pastor.
                                  - Tito's (you either love em or you don't - I love em, my wife doesn't get them)
                                  - Campos on Pico is pretty solid but not spectacular.
                                  I've never tried Taqueria Sanchez .... sound's like I'll have to!