Best Of L.A.: 60 Mexican Restaurants Your Mouth Can't Miss!

[UPDATE: This story was originally published on September 27.]
We might lack proper public transportation and be in dire straits when it comes to parking here in Lala ($73 parking tickets, wah!), but at least we've got serious bragging rights when it comes to the best Mexican plates in all the land! The city is teeming with some of the most noteworthy stands, trucks, and straight-up staples north of the border. And just like dive bars and sushi joints, we know you're en fuego about your go-to restos.
So, to satiate your passionate palates, we've rounded up 60 of the most delicious venues in each of L.A.'s 'hoods. Click through to discover a new tasty burrito in Venice or a hot tamale downtown — trust, there are plenty of obscure spots included among the faithful standbys. And no matter how you get there or where you park your car (may the force be with you), andalé amigos!
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Photos (clockwise from left): Barragan's; Malo; El Chavo; Guisados, Photographed by Molly Cranna

Barragan's Mexican Restaurant & Cantina
Serving SoCal since 1961, we've been regular customers ever since we learned about the Wednesday-night margarita specials. Throw back those $3 'ritas and head upstairs to the dance floor! Or, if you're more low-key, enjoy that Hump Day treat out on the patio. Either way, you'll regret everything if you pass up the huevos rancheros and flan!
Barragan's Mexican Restaurant, 1538 West Sunset Boulevard (near Echo Park Avenue); 213-250-4256.

Malo
This Silver Lake staple boasts a patio, which is the ideal concrete-jungle oasis for a long session of sipping margs — and maybe even getting a little wild. We can't get enough of the cheddar and mashed potato tacos, and the mock ground beef and pickle option is beyond delish, too! Just don't fill up on too much chips and guac first.
Malo, 4326 West Sunset Boulevard (at North Virgil Avenue); 323-664-1011.

Guisados
Known for truly authentico handmade treats, this spot tied with another joint on our list, Mariscos Jalisco, for "L.A.’s Best Taco" in the "Taco Madness 2012" competition. However, the sampler plate is our particular jam because the buffet allows you to munch on six separate specialties. For the veggie-conscious, we recommend the “calabacitas” (zucchini and onions) or the “hongos con cilantro” (mushroom with cilantro). Con or sin meat, wash anything down with some horchata for dessert, and nothing but muy bien will be on your mind!
Guisados, 2100 East Cesar Chavez Avenue (at North St. Louis Street); 323-264-7201.

Antojitos Carmen
This hidden gem is as authentic as it gets! Not only are we big fans of the breakfast menu, but the dry salsa has us weak in the knees. Our advice? Go with a group of friends and get more bang for your buck with a huge platter.
Antojitos Carmen, 2510 East Cesar E. Chavez Avenue (near North Soto Street); 323-264-1451.

Another Notable:
Diablo Taco, 3129 West Sunset Boulevard (near Silver Lake Boulevard); 323-666-4666.
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Photos (clockwise from left): Via Malo; Taco Zone; Taco Zone; La Cevicheria, Photographed by Molly Cranna

Taco Zone Truck
Open late, this is the spot we hit up if we're trying to stay healthy while attempting to cure those post-bar cravings. The veggie tacos are super simple, but totally satisfying. We hear the Suadero is worth digging into, but we're such veggie-loyalists that we've never swayed. Some day we'll venture out of our comfort zone, but until then — 2 a.m. is just fine the way it is with rice, beans, cheese, onions, and cilantro.
Taco Zone, North Alvarado and Montana Streets; 818-763-4085.

La Cevicheria
If you're really into raw fish, nada compares to this cash-only, BYOB eatery. The owner will greet you with a wholehearted "hola, bienvenido!" at the door, and the Chapin Ceviche will have your mouth watering upon first spoonful.
La Cevicheria, 3809 West Pico Boulevard (at 5th Avenue); 323-732-1253.

Los Cincos Puntos
There's more than meets the eye at this neighborhood meat market and grocer. Head towards the back and order yourself a flavorful carnitas taco, which you will enjoy from the comfort of your parked car (hey, it's a supermarket and we're starving!).
Los Cincos Puntos, 3300 East Cesar Chavez Avenue (at North Lorena Street); 323-261-4084.

La Indiana Tamales
Want to be the most popular one in your group of friends? Then book it to La Indiana and order up a dozen tamales. After one bite, we're positive you'll want to keep 'em all to yourself! We even polled tamale experts for their opinion, and it looks like the masa here is hard to beat!
La Indiana Tamales, 1142 South Indiana Street (near East Olympic Boulevard); 323-262-4682.

Other Notables:
El Arco Iris, 5684 York Boulevard (near North Avenue 57); 323-254-3402.
Macho’s Tacos, 1670 North Vermont Avenue (at Prospect Avenue); no phone.
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Photos (clockwise from left): El Chavo; Barragan's; Best Fish Taco; Best Fish Taco, Photographed by Molly Cranna

El Chavo
Located right at the "five points" intersection that always makes us a little nervous in traffic, you'll find a dark, hip hangout with a patio to match. It's completely casual — so no need for ressies — but there's always a cute boy or two savoring tequila. Its bar, "El Chavito," hosts a killer happy hour, too: $4 margs, $3 canned beers, $4 well drinks, and free chips and salsa.
El Chavo, 4441 West Sunset Boulevard (near Virgil Place); 323-664-0871.

The Best Fish Taco in Ensenada
We seriously turn into little kids every time we visit Best Fish Taco. We're totally transfixed by the cooks who fry and batter alongside the cash register and go a bit crazy on the self-serve condiment station. With only two tacos to choose from, we always end up ordering both and piling them high with cabbage and avocado salsa. Take a seat outside with a cup of horchata and you've got a full meal for exactly $5.
The Best Fish Taco In Ensenada, 1650 Hillhurst Avenue (at Camero Avenue); 323-466-5552.

Ricky's Fish Tacos
Wait in line long enough, and you'll spot a local chef stuffing his or her belly with Ensenada-style lobster tacos under the tent. Follow along on Twitter (@RickysFishTacos) for the daily special, then hurry on over because Ricky's been known to sell out his entire supply!
Ricky's Fish Tacos, 1400 North Virgil Avenue; no phone.

El Cholo The Original
If you're an L.A. implant, this is most likely the first spot recommended to you upon moving, and for good reason (we still keep coming back for more!). The green-corn tamales and Sonora-style enchiladas can't be beat, the pitchers of margs alway fit the bill (literally), and it's pretty much the perfect place to host a fab, yet low-key fiesta. Collegiate bonus: USC students get half-off all entrees from Monday through Wednesday.
El Cholo The Original, 1121 South Western Avenue (between Pico and Olympic boulevards); 323-734-2773.

Mexico City
It may be a beast to find parking on Hillhurst, but as soon as you step inside this retro-vibed space and order a strawberry marg, all of your woes will melt away. The beef fajita burrito is the ideal order en route to a show at the Greek (give those dancing feet some mas fuerte sustenance!).
Mexico City, 212 Hillhurst Avenue (at Avocado Street); 323-661-7227.

Other Notables:
Señor Fish, 1701 West Sunset Boulevard (at Logan Street); 213-483-0161.
Teresita’s Restaurant, 3826 East 1st Street (near North Gage Avenue); 323-266-6045.
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Photos (clockwise from left): Cielito Lindo; Tacos Por Favor; Barragan's; Tacos Por Favor, Photographed by Molly Cranna

Cielito Lindo
Old-school recipes take center stage at this taco stand that has been around since the early '30s. Get your taquitos smothered in avocado sauce, we guarantee you'll fall in love with each gooey bite. Plus, ordering is easy as one, two, three (we suggest #3: Two taquitos, one chile relleno, beans, and cheese).
Cielito Lindo, 23 Olvera Street (at North Alameda Street and East Cesar E. Chavez Boulevard); 213-687-4391.

Tacos Por Favor
Yes, please! With multiple locations in Lala Land, we're able to get our Por Favor fix no matter what side of town we're on. Which is a good thing, considering we're jonesing for that horchata at least once per week. And, the cactus salad pairs best with the shrimp tacos, a perfect meal for about $5 — you can't beat that!
Tacos Por Favor, 1220 East 1st Street (at South Anderson Street); 323-604-0255.

Mariscos Jalisco
The Tacos de Camarón (a.k.a. fried shrimp tacos), are what they're famous for, and it's easy to see why! And, we're not the only one's loving what these guys are serving — the truck tied with Guisado’s for the number one spot in "L.A. Taco’s" beloved "Taco Madness 2012" competition.
Mariscos Jalisco, 3040 East Olympic Boulevard (near South Dacotah Street); 323-528-6701.

El Parian Restaurant
L.A. Times food critic Jonathan Gold was once quoted saying El Parian is home to the best Mexican dish available within the borders of Los Angeles. We think you'll agree with Mr. Gold when you try one of the birria tacos from this hole-in-the-wall joint. The place gets packed on the weekends, so be prepared for a bit of a wait!
El Parian Restaurant, 1528 West Pico Boulevard (at Toberman Street); 213-386-7361.

Other Notables:
El Compadre, 1449 West Sunset Boulevard (at Sutherland Street); 213-250-4505.
El Siete Mares, 3131 West Sunset Boulevard (between Descanso Drive and Westerly Terrace); 323-665-0865.
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Photos (clockwise from left): La Otra Taqueria Escuela; El Coyote Cafe; Tacos Leo, Photographed by Molly Cranna; Via Loteria Grill

La Otra Taqueria Escuela
Everyone who has eaten at Steven Arroyo's new taco joint has fallen head over heels in love with the menu! With vintage shoe forms covering the entire ceiling, this cozy spot is conveniently located just a few steps from The Grove. If you miss Cobras & Matadors, order the Lobster Taco, it'll bring back great memories (and create even better ones!).
La Otra Taqueria Escuela, 7615 Beverly Boulevard (between North Stanley and North Curson); 323-932-6178.

El Coyote
Okay, before you go nuts about the quality of the food on this one (it's always a subject of debate amongst our friends), this Beverly kitchen made our list because it's our ultimate hangover hangout. The comida is as greasy as it gets, the dark setting and deep booths make it easy to go incognito, and who can argue with cheap bebidas for a lil' hair of the dog? Oh, and just in case you're fighting your Sunday Funday overload and really need a rinse and repeat, margs are 40% off all day long on Mondays!
El Coyote Mexican Café, 7312 Beverly Boulevard (between North Fuller Avenue and North Poinsettia Place); 323-939-2255.

Tacos Leo
Trust us, the late-night line is totally worth the wait! Park your ride in the 76 Gas Station and prepare for pure tacos-al-pastor bliss. With just a sliver of pineapple, these $1 treats are best paired with anything and everything from the self-serve table of salsa, pico de gallo, and pickled veggies.
Tacos Leo, Corner of Venice Boulevard and La Brea Avenue; no phone.

Loteria
This Farmer's Market kiosk not only serves up the best Albondigas de Chipotle we've supped (it's some muy caliente soup!), but it's also prime people-watching territory (which is even better with a buzz, right?). There are other locations scattered across town, but the atmosphere here amongst all of the other ethnic eateries just feels like the real deal.
Loteria Grill, 6333 West Third Street (at Fairfax Avenue); 323-930-2211.

El Chato Taco Truck
What tacos al pastor are to Tacos Leo, carne asada tacos are to El Chato. Though the two trucks are just a quick drive apart, we barely smell a rivalry. Maybe it's because both meal mobiles are equally delicious! Feel free to swing by and cure those late-night munchies — this truck keeps its windows open 'til the wee hours (3 a.m. on weekends, to be exact!).
El Chato Taco Truck, 5300 West Olympic Boulevard (parked at South Redondo Boulevard); 323-523-5822.

Lucy’s El Adobe Cafe
Across from the Paramount lot, you'll find the DL power-lunch nook for movie moguls and celebs alike (it's hard to miss the pics of glitterati diners of years past dotting the walls). You can eat al fresco on its fantastic patio, or opt for legit south-of-the-border decor indoors. We're major fans of the chicken enchiladas, but the Cadillac margarita and quesadilla combo packs a punch (and a paunch, ha!).
Lucy’s El Adobe Cafe, 563 Melrose Avenue (near North Larchmont Boulevard); 323-462-9421.

Other Notables:
Casa Sanchez, 4500 South Centinela Avenue (between Culver Boulevard and Washington Boulevard); 310-397-9999.
Esquela Taqueria, 308 North Stanley Avenue (at Beverly Boulevard); 323-939-8226.
Kay ‘n Dave’s, 9341 Culver Boulevard (at South Canfield Avenue); 310-558-8100.
Restaurante Guelaguetza, 3014 West Olympic Boulevard (near South Normandie Avenue); 213-427-0608.
Tinga, 142 South La Brea Avenue (between West 1st and West 2nd Streets); 323-954-9566.
Tito’s Tacos, 11222 Washington Place Culver City (near Sepulveda Boulevard); 310-391-5780.
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Photos (clockwise from left): Via Tortilla Republic; Tortilla Republic; Tortilla Republic; Rosa Mexicano

Tortilla Republic
We love nothing more than hitting up this swanky spot with a slew of girlfriends and ordering pitchers of its casa margaritas. While the main dishes are delicious, it's the desserts that have us pining. Order the flourless chocolate cake or the churro for a perfect end to a perfect meal. And, don't forget to share with your BFFs, that's what friends are for!
Tortilla Republic, 616 North Robertson Boulevard (near Melrose Avenue); 310-657-9888.

Rosa Mexicano
While the L.A. Live location may be the original SoCal spot, we're all about Rosa Mexicano's new outpost on Sunset. The drinks are strong and the nachos seem to be never-ending, which is just fine by us because we'll be dancing off those calories at any one of the clubs in the area. Founded in NYC, this trendy restaurant is ideal for zesty date nights or an epic girls' night out. It's the glam way to enjoy a bowl of guac!
Rosa Mexicano, 8570 West Sunset Boulevard (across from Londonderry Place); 310-657-4991.

Marix
Of all the eateries we're featuring, we've probably chowed down here the most. Mainly because it's just so easy and breezy with all open-air seating. Because of its popularity and no-reservations policy, you may have to wait, but there's a convenient bar area in front to start pre-gaming with shooters or La Victorias. If you order the fajitas (our fave), expect to leave smelling like smoke as it hits the table sizzling!
Marix Tex Mex Café , 1108 North Flores Street (near Santa Monica Boulevard); 323-656-8800.

The Gardens of Taxco
This Santa Monica spot has been serving Mexico City style cuisine for over 40 years, and the Shrimp in Mole Poblano is one of those dishes we can't shake when the craving hits (it has something like over 100 ingredients)! The best part, though, is the "verbal" menu that you may have to ask to be repeated several times, but it's enough theatrics to kick off any first-date on a funny note.
The Gardens of Taxco, 1113 North Harper Avenue (at Santa Monica Boulevard); 323-654-1746.

Other Notables:
El Carmen, 8138 West Third Street (near South Kilkea Drive); 323-852-1552.
Los Tacos, 7954 Santa Monica Boulevard (near North Hayworth Avenue); 323-848-9141.
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Photos (clockwise from left): Casablanca; Paco's Tacos; Casablanca; Paco's Tacos

Casablanca
Open since the '80s and named for the Bogart-Bergman flick, this Venice cantina houses the largest collection of the movie in the world. And that quirk is channeled to the food and service, too — it doesn't just deliver basic bites, but cool seafood dishes to try like the Calamari Steak. You can watch homemade tortillas cook right before they're delivered, piping hot, to your plate, and they'll even concoct your margaritas table-side, too!
Casablanca Restaurant, 220 Lincoln Boulevard (near Rose Avenue); 310-392-5751.

Paco’s Tacos
If the decor doesn't make you smile, Paco's homemade flour and corn tortillas will! Well-known for their margs, we're keen on the chimichangas, too. And, if the interior looks familiar, it's because it was featured in the first-date scene of Jerry Maguire — it's safe to say Paco's had us at "Cadillac Margarita!"
Paco’s Tacos, 4141 South Centinela Avenue (near Washington Boulevard); 310-391-9616.

Casa Escobar
There's nothing fancy about this old-school Santa Monica resto (one of the longest Westside vets), but we recommend you go with a big gang, and while the night away with warm chips, three homemade salsas, and almost too much tequila before hitting The Gaslite for a karaoke-off.
Casa Escobar, 2500 Wilshire Boulevard (near 25th Street); 310-828-1315.

Mercado
Grab a Latin-influenced craft cocktail at the bar while you wait for your table, and enjoy the scene at this buzzy new spot. Once you take a seat, you'll go loco for the authentic dishes, which feature fresh veggies from the Santa Monica farmers' market. Go ahead and take a chance on the day's fresh catch and order a boat-load of sides, it will all pair perfectly with your Margarita de Jamaica (centenario rosangel, triple sec, fresh hibiscus, and fresh sour).
Mercado, 1416 4th Street (near Santa Monica Boulevard); 310-526-7121.

Other Notables:
Casa Escobar, 2500 Wilshire Boulevard (between South Coronado and South Carondelet streets); 310-828-1315.
La Cabana, 738 Rose Avenue (at Lincoln Boulevard); 310-392-6161.
Lares Restaurant, 2909 Pico Boulevard (near 29th Street); 310-829-4550.
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Photos (clockwise from left): Via Café Habana; Mexicali Cocina Cantina; Casa Vega; Casa Vega

Café Habana Malibu
You won't find a more vividly hued margarita in any part of town than Habana's Prickly Pear — it's so fuschia it may even glow in the dark! This Malibu Lumberyard local-luminary hot spot is an NYC import, but the Cuban-Mexican fusion feels right seaside. Take our advice and drive up the coast for its Taco Tuesdays with $3 Tecates and tacos starting at 5 p.m. — and definitely request the patio. Oh, and if you feel like getting a little rowdy, Wednesdays are some wild karaoke times!
Café Habana Malibu, 3939 Cross Creek Road (at PCH); 310-317-0300.

Mexicali Cocina Cantina
This celeb hangout in Studio City (Renée Zellweger and Britney Spears are both fans), gained some much-deserved recognition in Rachel Ray's Taco-Off. The restaurant, which has been muy caliente for 15 years, serves up one of the best happy hours around town (maybe it's because Mexicali offers up its HH menu twice a day!). Mondays are your best bet, every food item is knocked back 30%!
Mexicali Cocina Cantina, 12161 Ventura Boulevard (near Vantage Avenue); 818-985-1744.

Casa Vega
This Valley institution is worth any wind up or down Laurel Canyon (please drive responsibly, though, these margs are mas fuerte!). We practically inhale the Queso Fundido, and the Mexican shrimp cocktail is as fresh as it gets.
Casa Vega, 13301 Ventura Boulevard (at Fulton Avenue); 818-788-4868.

Coral Beach Cantina
Located in a cranny of Malibu just South of Zuma (it's easy to miss and take care with the U-turn situation), Coral Beach Cantina is where Malibu locals go to chill for some Pacific breeze with Pacificos in-hand! The Nachos Roberto are our guilty pleasure after we've covered up the bikini from a day at the beach! And if you happen to be with someone that's not necessarily as willing to pig-out like us, the patio's shared with Zooma Sushi and your party can nosh from both cultures on one table.
Coral Beach Cantina, 29350 Pacific Coast Highway (between Heathercliff Road and Westward Beach Road), Malibu; 310-457-5503.

Other Notables:
El Huarachito, 3010 North Broadway (near Johnston Street); Lincoln Heights, 323-223-0476.
El Tarasco Restaurant, 316 Rosecrans Avenue (near Highland Avenue); Manhattan Beach, 310-545-4241.
La Cabanita, 3445 North Verdugo Road (at Ocean View Boulevard); Glendale, 818-957-2711.
Casa La Golondrina Mexican Café, 17 Olvera Street (near North Main Street); Chinatown, 213-628-4349.
Loteria Grill, 6627 Hollywood Boulevard (at North Cherokee Avenue); Hollywood, 323-465-2500.
Mas Malo, 515 West 7th Street (at Grand Street); Downtown, 213-985-4332.
Tere’s Mexican Grill, 5870 Melrose Avenue Suite 101 (at North Cahuenga Boulevard); Mid-Wilshire, 323-468-9345.
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