The Best Mexican Restaurants in Los Angeles

Satisfy any craving for consommé-dipped birria tacos, flavorful seafood, excellent moles, and more.

12 min read

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With the largest Mexican-American population in the United States, it should come as no surprise that Los Angeles is a veritable treasure trove of Mexican food. That means everything from casual taco spots to old-school sit-down joints, classic Oaxacan cuisine to seafood specialists. And luckily, as a local, I can get all this and more delivered straight to my door — and so can you! Here are some of the best Mexican restaurants in L.A.

Tacos Por Favor


Since 1990 this family-owned neighborhood spot, with locations in Santa Monica, Venice, and West L.A., is all about no fuss, no muss, great tacos. The Puebla-inspired Westside staple has everything from soft tacos brimming with mahi mahi or lengua to reminiscent-of-childhood hard-shell tacos stacked with beef, guacamole, lettuce, pico de gallo, and shredded cheese. The dead-simple breakfast burrito — stuffed with scrambled eggs, hash browns, cheese, salsa, and a choice of ham, bacon, or sausage — is a savior after a late night.

Tacos 1986


Perhaps no taqueria has come out of nowhere and spread like wildfire like Tacos 1986, which started out as a pop-up in 2019 and in just a handful of years has grown to six locations around the city, including Downtown L.A. and Santa Monica. Try any of the Tijuana-style tacos topped with onions, cilantro, salsa, and a generous dollop of guacamole to see why everyone — UCLA students, Magic Johnson, even President Biden — is a fan.

El Cholo


The oldest Mexican restaurant in Los Angeles is still going strong more than a century after it first opened in Exposition Park. A favorite are its cheese-smothered enchiladas, available in eight variations like crabmeat and a mariscos version with lobster, shrimp, and scallops. Relive the early ’90s with the vegetable-packed Annie’s Early California or go for the OG, the Sonora-style, chicken-stuffed enchiladas topped with salsa and a fried egg. They’ve been on the menu since 1923, and after a few bites, you’ll understand why.

Teddy's Red Tacos


L.A. has reached peak birria, and Teddy’s Red Tacos, which has locations all over the city from Venice Beach to Echo Park, is one of the spots leading the charge. After all, what could be more satisfying than dipping a taco filled with stewed, pull-apart-tender beef into an equally beefy consommé? Go for the quesataco, which is, yes, the love child of a taco and a quesadilla, for an especially indulgent experience.

Vamos Vamos


One word: nachos. Santa Monica’s vibrant New Mexican restaurant is the go-to spot when you’re craving a pile of tortilla chips covered in classic toppings like cheese and guacamole, or more upscale options like chicken tinga or pork braised in Hatch green chiles and tomatillos. I’m partial to the Elote version, which is loaded in both corn purée and fire-roasted corn, along with sour cream aioli, pickled onions, and three types of cheese. It’s basically a salad…right?



This San Francisco import puts a California-fresh spin on classic Mexican fare at its Manhattan Beach location, using responsibly sourced ingredients and offering the likes of a super-fresh Marina Girl salad and Quinoa Chingona Bowl topped with cauliflower al pastor. You can’t go wrong with any of the tacos on house-made corn tortillas, although the insanely flavorful veggie options, like the sweet potato and kale and mushroom “carnitas” aren’t to be missed.

Madre Oaxacan Restaurant


The homemade moles at premiere Oaxacan restaurant Madre, with locations in Torrance, West Hollywood, and Palms, are pure comfort. (It also has one of the most impressive mezcal selections to boot, and extremely tasty margaritas.) The best way to experience the sauces all at once is to go with the Pecado platter, where you can choose three moles, which range from the tomatillo-accented Estofado to the chocolate-laced Negro. Served with a pile of chicken and pork, the platter could easily feed two people, so why not throw on an order of taquitos to round things out?

Chicas Tacos


When a taco craving hits but time is of the essence, fast-casual Chicas is a reliable option. (You can find it in Culver City and near the Miracle Mile.) Combos like the number one (two tacos, chips and salsa, and a soda) make ordering a breeze, and fillings like jackfruit and plant-based meat keep things interesting. Plus, if you can’t decide between tacos and pizza (look, it happens), try one of Chica’s two pizzas, served on two 12-inch tortillas piled high with cheese, baked, and topped with either Choriman chicken chorizo or adobo barbecue chicken.



Legendary chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger have opened another modern Mexican standout with their sunny Santa Monica restaurant Socalo. Although the duo relies on traditional techniques to prepare the tacos, expect seasonal ingredients to make an appearance on the menu too. The taco bowl or a Sonoran-style burrito filled with lamb barbacoa and avocado salsa make for satisfying lunches, while at dinnertime, pair a taco or two with one of the larger plates, like the tender pork belly with ayocote beans and pickled onions.



Since 2010, Guisados has been a staple for its homestyle, slow-cooked, braised-meat tacos on homemade corn tortillas. You really can’t go wrong with any of the fillings, from the bright chicken tinga cooked with tomato and cabbage, or the rich steak picado simmered with peppers and bacon. It has eight locations in areas like Burbank and Hermosa Beach, but the Echo Park location is the ideal spot to grab a bite before a Dodgers game, via delivery or pickup. Take an Armando Palmero (half lemon, half jamaica) agua fresca to go for the long walk up the hill to the stadium.



Not sure what to order? It’s in the name: Coni’Seafood in Inglewood specializes in all things fish-focused, with a Nayarit-style spin. You’ll see the restaurant’s showstopping Pescado Zarandeado, a whole butterflied and grilled snook slathered in mayonnaise and spices, on nearly every table. Served with red onion and warm tortillas, it’s a party in and of itself, whether eaten at the restaurant or with a group at home. For something lower commitment, try the fiery aguachiles or the smoked marlin tacos.

La Cevicheria


Ceviche fanatics, try La Cevicheria in Culver City, where the seafood is super-fresh and the options are seemingly endless. There are eight different pristine ceviches to choose from, whether served on their own or on a crispy tostada. Beyond the signature dish, aguachiles drenched in cilantro salsa are a staple, as are the fried fish tacos served with cabbage and spicy devil sauce.



Renowned Mexico City chef Enrique Olvera has brought his more casual restaurant Atla (which initially debuted in New York) to Venice’s bustling Abbot Kinney Boulevard. Unlike some of his higher-end restaurants, you’ll find more homestyle items like Oaxacan cheese quesadillas and lobster burritos on the menu here. I could eat the creamy, dreamy guac that’s absolutely covered in herbs as a meal in itself.



This cheery restaurant, with locations in both Venice and West Adams, has strong Tulum vibes (think: wicker, natural light, and lots of greenery) and a vibrant menu to match. There are plenty of meat-free options, including a rich vegan tortilla soup made with cashews and black beans, as well as grilled nopales tacos with blistered tomatoes. It’s the bright, unexpected touches, like the hibiscus onions that adorn many tacos, or the carrot mole atop a grilled hanger steak, that make this place worth ordering from.

Tacos Y Birria La Unica


This taco truck in Boyle Heights is famous for its crisped-up birria tacos on handmade corn tortillas. If you’re in the mood for noods, the ramen birria (and ramen-stuffed burritos) are a must-try, but the classic tacos and quesatacos always hit the spot. (There’s also a truck regularly parked in Mid-City, too.)

El Compadre


El Compadre is one of L.A.’s most beloved sit-down Mexican restaurants, known for its flaming margaritas (yes, you read that correctly). This West Hollywood spot is all about big, hearty platters brimming with rice and refried beans. Fancy fajitas? Yup. Envisioning an enchilada? It’s got those, too. Tamales tickle your fancy? Not a problem. With countless combination options, you can have your chile relleno and eat it, too.



Koreatown’s award-winning, family-owned Oaxacan restaurant has been doling out moles, tlayudas, and the like since the 1990s. The festive restaurant, with a sweeping outdoor patio and regular mariachi bands, is perfect for a big group, and so are the big party platters available for delivery. Get a sampling — don’t miss the black mole tamales or the antojitos (ideal for nibbling) or the tres leches cake slices.



Named after a small island off the Yucatan, this postage stamp-sized counter in Historic South Central serves some of the best seafood in town, period (and even Michelin has taken notice). From braised-and-fried octopus tacos with calamari ink sofrito to vibrant kanpachi ceviche, every bite showcases chef Gilbert Centina’s masterful hand with ingredients pulled from the sea.



While perhaps not traditionally Mexican, this L.A. mini-chain with outposts in Hollywood and Highland Park is the go-to spot in town for Austin-style breakfast tacos brimming with pasture-raised scrambled eggs and add-ons like shredded brisket or chorizo. Don’t miss the migas or the playful frito pies — a couple of bites and you’ll realize why every location has a line on the weekends.