I was pleased to be asked this year for my opine. I love tacos, and I have eaten a ton of them since I began the quest of the Taco Maven in September of 2010.
There are a lot of great authorities on tacos in this town. Two of my favorites are The Great Taco Hunt (he focuses on trucks) and Street Gourmet LA (he focuses on all types of street food including the taco.)
A Top 10 taco list is a very personal thing. I prefer crispy tacos when I can get them, so my list is skewed in that direction. Quality is of course important as is innovation and the friendliness of the people serving the tacos. I recently visited La Taqueria in San Francisco and the owner has been charming his female customers with roses and special order requests for the last 40 years. The food is pretty simple, but the service takes it up a notch.
Another criteria is 'Where would I take an out-of-town taco eater?' Ideally, it's to a great place that has more than one good item and a comfy space to eat it in.
Taco Bell would NEVER make my list now, but back in 1980, their Tostada was the number one bribe my mother used to get me to do anything unpleasant (chores, Dr. visits, etc.)
No 1 - Mariscos Jalisco The crispy shrimp taco with sliced avocado and cabbage salsa is HEAVEN. It hits the spot and so does the generous and fabulous owner, Raul. As a bonus, they have some of the best agua chile you've ever had as well.
No 2 - Guisados They change tacos weekly, they give you free soup, they make their own tortillas as you order, and they charm the pants off of you. Jonathan Gold is a fan of their super hot chile toreado taco which I recently tried. It's a mix of 4 chiles (habanero, serrano, jalapeno and red thai) with grilled onions and beans. That's it. Stellar.
No 3 - Mexicali Taco & Co I love these boys. They are the sweetest most hard working fellas around. But when I go there, I HAVE to get a Vampiro or a Cachetada and those aren't tacos. BUT they hands down make the best carne asada EVER in LA AND they give it to you in a flour tortilla which almost no one does. Maybe I can convince them to make me a crispy taco in their new cozy brick and mortar location at 702 N. Figueroa.
No 4 - El Tauro Taco Truck (I know, I know, everyone LOVES Leo's) Let me just say that on my birthday, I waited on line for an hour and had the worst Pastor ever. All fat, bone bits and gristle. They are sporadic with the Trompo (it's not Pastor without that) El Tauro on the other hand always makes me a perfect trompo pastor with extra pineapple. Their other tacos are good too. Friendly people who handle the line better than Leo's. I will try Leo's again but it was really GROSS. I have recently become a fan of La Chispita on Lankersheim as well.
No 5 - Ricky's Fish Tacos Ricky is a doll. His batter is so amazing it tastes like KFC and that's a good thing. (I don't eat KFC, but it's very savory) He is an authentic cook with Baja roots making a great Baja fish taco. In some ways I prefer Tacos Baja Ensenada, but Ricky is closer and more unique. I like the shrimp ones best.
No 6 - Plancha They are pretty terrific. Maybe the freshest, healthiest tacos around, free wifi, great sauces and salsas, open late, breakfast all day AND they will wrap your tacos in lettuce if you are on a diet. The sauce for the shrimp tacos is so so so tasty. YIKES. They give good tweet too and they are really nice.
No 7 - Malo Their crispy ground beef pickle taco is legendary. If we are talking about a 'go to' taco where I know it will be crunchy, tasty and perfect EVERY TIME and I can get a GREAT Angelina chile-dusted Margarita there? It's Malo. Now they have 2 locations and they also have great Happy Hours which I really appreciate. They will even make a vegetarian version of this taco for you with a tofu substitute that tastes pretty darn close.
No 8 - La Escuela Taqueria This place just opened about 6 months ago. Same owner as Cobras & Matadors (Steve Arroyo) They might win the innovation award for their crispy-skinned white fish taco. Their shredded beef crispy taco is orgasmic. Fun little cozy hip spot.
No 9 - Komida The seasonal Asian inspired taco stand at the Yamashiro Farmer's Market has busted out a shop near Highland and Hollywood Blvd. These are some great tacos, right down to the wasabe guacamole. Glad we can have them year 'round now.
No 10 - Tacomiendo I love this place, and not just for their clever pun on 'comiendo' which means 'eating'. The crispy potato and crispy chicken tacos are both outstanding. The shells are thick and crisp, cotija cheese, great salsa, cheap. They really hit the spot. They also have salad and fresh juices. Sadly, their soft tacos are not up to snuff, but try the crispies and you won't be disappointed.
Vivan los Tacos!!! Let the games begin.