Photo: Marcos Castillo/Shutterstock

9 of the World’s Best Cities for Tacos

Insider Guides Food + Drink
by Rulo Luna Ramos Jun 16, 2016

1. Mexico City

Welcome to the taco capital of the world! You’re craving some carnitas? The Rincón Tarasco has you covered. Wanna try some of the best Mexican style barbacoa? Just pay a visit to Los Tres Reyes next Sunday. Curious about cochinita and other Yucatan delicacies? Head to El Turix in Polanco. Vegan? Not an issue! Siempre Vegana Taquería has a scrumptious menu waiting for you. But whatever you do, don’t leave the city without trying tacos al pastor, specifically, don’t leave the city without paying a visit to El Pastorcito. Every single taco you eat in the future will be a runner up to this.

El Tizoncito and El Fogoncito are a some other famous places to enjoy a wide variety of tacos in Mexico City. Others, like Taquería Susy and El Califa are gaining popularity among locals and are definitely worth paying a visit.

2. Los Angeles

If you ask a hundred people for the best taqueria in LA, you’ll probably get a hundred different answers and they’ll all be correct. Los Angeles is home to one of the biggest Mexican communities outside Mexico and the quality and variety of its taquerias doesn’t disappoint: Leo’s Tacos Truck serves tacos al pastor like the ones you believe you’d never find outside Mexico. Ricky’s Fish Tacos has some of the best shrimp and fish tacos with the original Ensenada flavor, and Carnitas El Momo is a perfect place to get rid of your hangover. But LA also caters to the fancy taco crowd: visit Guerilla Tacos if you wanna try some of the most unique taco fillings to ever come out of a food truck (yes cauliflower with medjool dates, I’m calling you unique and fancy). Or forget everything you know about traditional tacos and pay a visit to Revolutionario, the home of the North African taco. You got that right: North African tacos!

A photo posted by Karen Tongson (@tongsonator) on

3. Tijuana

The city credited with the invention of Caesar salad is also home of the famous Tijuana style taco, and quite a taco this is! Overloaded with guacamole and filled with the best asada (steak) and adobada (spicy pork steak) from northern Mexico, these tacos are second to none and locals prefer them over every taco variation from central Mexico. Fresh seafood also provides a variety of ingredients to the already impressive taco scene. Visit Mariscos El Mazateño or Tacos Titos if you wanna learn how tortillas make every kind of seafood better; if asada and adobada are everything you can think of right now, you deserve a visit to Taconazo or Tacos El Franc; and if you want a lesson on how cheese makes everything better, don’t forget to check in at Los Salceados and order some of their famous quesatacos. Enjoy!

4. New York City

NYC is the largest stronghold of real Mexican food on the East Coast and even if its taco offer is not as varied as its Californian counterpart, the joints scattered around the city are some of the best outside Mexico and will leave any taco connoisseur pleasantly surprised with the quality of their fillings and their tortillas. Pay a visit to Taco Mix, where the flying pineapples and the double tortilla of tacos al pastor will immediately remind you of your favourite street stall in Mexico City; rediscover your norteño heritage with a healthy dose of asada and adobada tacos at Los Tacos No 1, or visit Taquería Izucar for some of the best suadero this side of the border. But wait, there’s more! If you’re looking for some unique options without leaving the Mexican specialties aside, visit Toloache and ask for the spicy lobster tacos; you can even add some chapulines (grasshoppers) if you’re feeling bold!

New York also hosts one of the most interesting fast food experiments: the Korean taco. Both Kimchi Taco and Korilla BBQ are good spots to discover what the Mexican-Korean food craze is all about.

5. Berlin

The quest to find authentic Mexican food in Europe is difficult. However, tacos and other traditional Mexican dishes somehow managed to avoid their common misconceptions and occupy the streets of the German capital in all their glory. The offer is really diverse and even Mexicans will be pleasantly surprised by the quality of the local tacos (some of them are surprisingly spicy too!). Carnitas, tacos dorados, enmoladas, gobernador style tacos… You name it, there’s a food joint in Berlin that has you covered. Places like Ta’ Cabrón Taquería, provide a full Spanish menu for Spanish speakers, and others, like Agüevo, offer different aguas frescas to accompany their traditional antojitos. María Bonita, Chaparro and Tin Tan are some other good options to get your German taco fix. Don’t forget to take a good shot of mezcal to wash down those quesadillas. Prost!

6. Guadalajara

Guadalajara and Mexico City are two cities in continuous rivalry. Locals from both of these places are always boasting about who has the best soccer team, the most beautiful women, the most understandable version of Mexican Spanish and, of course, the best tacos. While Mexico City definitely rules in the tacos al pastor field, Guadalajara holds the crown for barbacoa tacos. Barbacoa is made of lamb or goat meat, slowly cooked to tender perfection and seasoned with different spices. It is hard to pinpoint the best barbacoa taco place in Guadalajara, since there appears to be one in every single corner of the city, but Tacos Juan, El Amigo, and Tacos Omar Carlos are some of the most popular establishments to get you into the tapatío taco experience.

7. San Francisco

California’s second entry on the list is totally justified. The Bay Area has superb places all around. Locals will immediately point you towards The Mission, where places like Loló, La Oaxaqueña, Tacolicious and Taquería Vallarta offer a good variety of tacos with fillings such as lengua (cow tongue), chicharrón (fried pig skin) and cochinita (a traditional Mayan dish from Southeast Mexico); but the true star here is La Taquería, a place famous for its long lines and for having some of the best asada and carnitas tacos in California (and that’s saying a lot!). Maybe this is not the most traditional interpretation of Mexican food you’ll find around, but their version of tacos dorados (deep fried tortilla wrapped in a second soft tortilla) will definitely find a way to become one of your favorites.

8. Puebla

Puebla is a Mexican food temple just a couple hours from Mexico City. A lot of the country’s most traditional dishes like mole and chiles en nogada have deep roots in this city. When it comes to tacos, the most iconic Puebla taco has to be the taco árabe, spit-roasted pork served in a pita-style tortilla (called arab bread) smothered in lemon and its own unique chipotle salsa. You will often see these trompos of árabe meat side by side with al pastor… and it’s alright to order both! The best al pastor and árabe tacos in the historical centre of the city can be find at Las Ranas and Las Iguanas, which happen to be neighbours (you can sit in one taqueria and order tacos from both). My favorite tacos in the city are the asada tacos from a street joint on the corner of La Piedad (try them combined with longaniza and always ask for them con todo). If you are in La Paz then head to Tacos Roger for your whopping half a kilo taco with three tortillas filled with beans, potatoes and your choice of milanesa, adobo, chile poblano or chicharrón.

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9. Melbourne

It may be in the other side of the world, but you can find more accurate Mexican dishes in this city than in plenty of restaurants just across the border. Could seem surprising, but Melbourne actually has a huge variety of Mexican style food. And I’m not even talking about those dreadful tex-mex-hard-shell-wanna-be tacos that you can find everywhere around, no, I’m talking of actual corn tortillas filled with cochinita pibil or barbacoa. The real deal!

Some places like Fonda Mexican even have a press brought directly from Mexico to provide freshly made tortillas to its customers. Others, like Mamasita also offer horchata and Negra Modelo beer to accompany its famous beef tongue tacos.

A photo posted by Fonda (@fondamexican) on

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