Shrimp Taco Dorados from Mariscos Jalisco
Already crowned one of the best tacos in Los Angeles, Raul Ortega's truck was a big hit at Tacolandia. The shrimp is chopped, seasoned, and fried inside the shell, which takes time (and led to long lines), but the stuff is life-affirmingly good.
A Parking Lot Full of Taco Lovers
Not long after the gates opened, taco lovers spilled into the parking lot looking to gobble up as many tacos as they could handle.
Al Pastor Taco from Tacos Leo
Already a fan favorite, Leo's shaved-from-the-spit pastor tacos are soaked in spices and citrus juice, with a little clip of pineapple taken straight from the top and tossed onto your waiting taco.
Smoked Marlin Taco from Coni'Seafood
Inglewood's Coni'Seafood brought their ocean sensibilities with these charred marlin tacos. The thin slice of avocado helped to stave off the seriously warm habanero salsa.
Cachetadas from Mexicali Taco
Already a meat and tortilla powerhouse, Mexicali's cachetadas were exactly the beefy, smoky, cheesy, slightly spicy snack that many of the festival goers thought they were going to find at Tacolandia.
Cured Snapper from Georges at the Cove
All the way from San Diego, Georges at the Cove offered an upscale snapper taco in a pineapple salsa that was light and refreshing—especially after a few dozen different tacos.
Stewed Chorizo Taco from Bizarra Capital
Rather than a full chorizo link or hot, chopped bits, Whittier's Bizarra Capital opted to stew their chorizo with potatoes, add a touch of mole, and top it off with crunchy slices of onion.
Albondigas Taco from Mexikosher
Continually riffing on the fusion of kosher Jewish food and Mexican cuisine, Mexikosher played with a matzo meatball, with plenty of turmeric rice as a base layer.
Lechon Taco from Chichen Itza
Sporting one of the longest lines of the day, Chichen Itza delivered big with lechon (whole pig) tacos. While some people got juicy interior bits, the crispy edges lined with skin offered a more robust flavor and great fried bites of skin.
Fideo and Tripas Taco from Mision 19
Tijuana's Mision 19 serves upscale Mexican south of the border, but brought their A game to Los Angeles with fideo and tripas tacos: a fried little bundle filled with beef organs and crisped little noodles.
Sweet Potato Taco from Guerrilla Tacos
Downtown's Guerrilla Tacos kept things interesting all day long, swapping out their offerings whenever one item ran out. The sweet potato taco was a decent change of pace: fried, heavy with cheese, and caramelized at the edges.
Tostadas from La Guerrerense
This Baja-based mariscos cart is doing some of the best street seafood work in the entire Mexican universe. With combinations that included sea urchin and smoked yellowtail pâté, and even Pismo clams, these mini bites were steps ahead of the competition. With an array of homemade salsas to top, these guys kept stopping traditional taco eaters in their tracks.
Scallop and Uni Taco Punta Cabras
Relative newcomers Tacos Punta Cabras kept their Santa Monica location in mind with thinly fried bay scallop and uni tacos.
Bilingual Taco from Loteria Grill
Chef Jimmy Shaw already cooks up some fantastic tacos in L.A., but his inventiveness shone through at Tacolandia. First up is the beef tongue and pork tongue taco, a play on the Mexican word lengua for tongue.
Three Little Pigs Taco from Loteria Grill
With three different types of pork (bacon, carnitas and fried skin chicharron), this taco amazed and overwhelmed the senses, in a good way.
Goat Birria Taco from Flor Del Rio
One of the most straightforward tacos of the day was the Zacatecas-style goat birria from Flor Del Rio in Boyle Heights.
Stewed Meat from Gish Bac
Instead of preparing a taco, this Crenshaw mole kingdom soaked some goat and lamb in guajillo sauce until it softened into a near soup, then serve up the morsels with tortilla chips.
Pork Belly Taco from Mo-Chica
Ricardo Zarate was on hand himself to make batches of pork belly for some of the prettiest tacos at the festival. It was also considered by many to be the tastiest.
Goat Cheese Tostada from Sol Cocina
With dabs of fresh goat cheese and crispy peanuts, this savory tostada was a creamy way to beat the afternoon heat—if only for a moment.
Bone Marrow Taco from Bistro LQ
Chef Laurent Quenioux is always doing something inventive behind the stoves. This gelatinous bone marrow taco was seriously fatty, and a bit overindulgent for the warm day.
Escamoles Taco from Bistro LQ
Escamoles are rarely seen in America, probably because they're actually just ant larvae. Considered a rich, caviar-like delicacy in some parts of Mexico, Chef Quenioux clearly had a fun time watching as unsuspecting taco lovers dug in.
Rabbit Liver Taco from Bistro LQ
Continuing the tradition of odd tacos, Bistro LQ unveiled a thick rabbit liver taco that tasted more than a little like foie gras (which is, of course, banned in California). Charred at the edges and impossibly rich, it was a surprisingly funky favorite.
Carne Asada Taco from Soho Tacos
Representing the OC, Soho Tacos already knows how to throw down some serious asada tacos. With the provided mango salsa for a slightly sweet kick (plus thick, hand-patted tortillas), these little fellas kept people waiting for a while.
Veggie Taco from Soho Tacos
The tortilla makes all the difference with these tacos. Otherwise the mushy, salty pile of mushrooms, onions and peppers would be lost altogether.
Lobster Taco from Soho Tacos
Lots of people were waiting for the lobster tacos, too, having spotted the only tent making blue corn tortillas from scratch. Wide nubs of lobster hid well under shreds of lettuce and a thin chipotle sauce, but once found, they got instantly inhaled.
Poblano Taco from Tamales Elena
The Tamales Elena truck offered up novel potato and poblano pepper tacos, laced with a thin crema.
Barbacoa from Tamales Elena
For their meat offering, Tamales Elena went with a simple barbacoa presentation, giving eaters a cupful of their own slightly stinging juice to pour over the top.
'Turbo Tacos' from Tacos Los Anaya
The popular Los Anaya folks linked up with the new film, Turbo, for a little cross-promotion, offering BBQ'd chicken, grilled veggies and straightforward beef tacos to all. They were also one of the only options for pressed-on-site tortillas, which is always a plus.
Kraken and Portabello Tacos from Tacos Kokopelli
One of the most celebrated street carts in Tijuana, Kokopelli is known for their kraken tacos. The young octopus was wood-grilled all day long in a large cart in front of their tent, while the portabello mushroom tacos next to them fell a little flat for most eaters.
Chicken Mole Taco from Rocio's Mole de los Dioses
As in "mole of the gods," Rocio's dished out several versions of the offerings from their Sun Valley location. The first, a simple chicken mole with dabs of Mexican cheese, was sweet and satisfying without being overwhelmingly thick.
Carnitas Taco from Rocio's Mole de los Dioses
The simple carnitas preparation was a bit of a disappointment, lacking any real porky punch.
Stewed Beef Taco from Rocio's Mole de los Dioses
Another straightforward stewed beef taco, tossed with shreds of lettuce.
Steamed Veggie Taco from Rocio's Mole de los Dioses
Steamed little packets of mushroom and squash were rolled over with a thick, fresh chopped salsa that made good use of the provided forks.
Beef Cheek Taco from CaCao Mexicatessen
We're already fans of CaCao, and their beef cheek tacos were another salty hit. The large bulbs awash in salsa verde are cipollini, the rare and wild bittersweet onions.
Tacos Arabes from Tacos Arabes de Puebla
Arriving late, the Tacos Arabes people found themselves with lots of tacos left over as the day wound down. All the better for the rest of us, looking for that Middle Eastern mix of thick, warm flour tortillas rolled with sliced beef from a spit. The zippy papalo (similar to cilantro) gave these tacos an herbaceous oomph, as well.
Dulce Dessert Taco from Loteria Grill
The perfect ending to Tacolandia: a pineapple and mango taco, laced with a hibiscus reduction and a few sticks of perfect cinnamon mini churros.