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Four Essential Westside Tacos for National Taco Day

Navigating the crowded taco scene for National Taco Day.

By Kerry Slater

October 4 is National Taco Day, and while every day is more or less a taco day in Santa Monica, here are four tacos on the Westside that stand out from the pack and are worth going next time you feel like making your normal day a taco day.

  1. Tacos Por Favor

Tacos Por Favor keeps it simple, tasty and fresh. Sticking to this formula, the three locations (Santa Monica, Venice, West L.A.) have become the go-to place for many Westsiders seeking out a quick, no-frills taco. From carne asada, carnitas and chorizo to lengua, mahi-mahi and potato, the range of taco options are varied, but the tacos themselves are straightforward: meat (or veggie) on a tortilla that can be “sauced-up” at the top-notch salsa bar. At under $3 a pop, one can walk out stuffed for $10 with three tacos, chips and salsa in their belly. And with enough salsa Roja, you will be wanting to spend a few more bucks and wash everything down with a horchata or Pacifico.

Tacos Por Favor is located at 1408 Olympic Blvd in Santa Monica, 1901 Olympic Blvd in West Los Angeles and 826 Hampton Dr in Venice. Visit https://tacosporfavor.net/ for more details.

  1. Guisados
A Cochinita Pibil taco at Guisados is a must for spice and pork lovers. Photo: Ted Catanzaro.

While technically not the Westside, one-bite of a taco at Guisados will justify the trip to West Hollywood. With 14 different tacos to choose from, the sample platter of six mini tacos may be the best choice for those overwhelmed by the extensive menu. What ties the eclectic range of options together is pure deliciousness coupled with unique flavor combinations. For those looking something straightforward yet different, try the Steak Picado: flank steak simmered with green bell peppers and bacon, served with green serrano chile atop black beans. For heat seekers, the Cochinita Pibil is a must have. Shredded pork cooked in a sweet, red achiote spice atop black beans topped with pickled red onions and habanero chile, the Pibil spice level defaults at a three on a scale of 1-10 and can be increased for the brave of heart and palette. For those looking to indulge, try the Chicharron taco. The pork rinds simmered in Chile Verde will make all the traffic and honking horns worth it.

Guisados West Hollywood is located at 8935 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069. For more information visit http://www.guisados.co/ or call (310) 777-0310.

  1. Tito’s Tacos
here are few things more timeless than a box of hard-shell Tito’s Tacos. Photo: Courtesy.

Less than a block east of the 405, like Guisados, Tito’s is technically not on the Westside. This is about the only comparison one can make between these two tacos joints. The hard-shell tacos at Titos are essentially a different type of cuisine than the decadent, soft-shell tacos at Guisados. In 1992 Jonathan Gold wrote in the LA Times that “Tito’s has the deeply nostalgic bean ‘n’ chip smell” and in 2018 this has not changed.

Also unchanged is the simple menu at Tito’s: tacos, enchiladas, tamales, two kinds of burritos (with or without beans), chile con carne, tostadas, rice and beans. And the hard-shell, ground beef tacos with cheese have not changed a bit either. And in all their crisp greasiness, why should they ever change?  

Titos Tacos is located at 11222 Washington Pl, Culver City, CA 90230. Visit http://www.titostacos.com/ or call (310) 391-5780 for more information.

  1. El Primo Tacos
At El Primo Tacos, the pastor is always fresh and the tacos are always $1. Photo: Cecilia Anthony Becerra (Facebook)

Set up on the corner of Lincoln Boulevard and Brooks Avenue in Venice,  El Primo Tacos serves arguably the best street al pastor tacos on the Westside. Open every night from 5 p.m. until they run out of meat (usually around 11:30) the aroma of pastor cooking on a spit should pull most people into line. If not, the price tag (or lack thereof) on the tacos should convince even the wariest skeptic.  Every taco at El Primo, whether it’s Lengua, Cabeza, carne asada pastor, is $1. And with tacos this good, you’ll be wanting to buy quite a few.

El Primo Tacos is located on Lincoln Blvd. by Brooks Ave in Venice. They have neither a phone number nor a website so just follow the smell of al pastor.

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