Taco lovers didn’t have to wait until National Taco Day to get their taco fix — Angelenos were treated to the fifth Annual L.A. Taco Festival on Saturday. Eighteen different taco vendors gathered at Grand Park in downtown Los Angeles on Saturday to celebrate everyone’s favorite handheld dish. The event’s 11 sponsors, including Ford and the Los Angeles Lakers, came together to make the festival about more than just tacos. The sponsors worked to benefit Jovenes Inc., an organization aimed toward ending youth homelessness.
Lines quickly formed soon after the festival began, and despite the 80-degree weather, the crowd continued to grow as the day went on. The festival’s best tacos, all of which can be found in Los Angeles, are outlined below.
Best Veggie Taco: Los Ruizeñores’ Grilled Veggies Taco. Though there were several great contenders, Los Ruizeñores blew the competition out of the park for the Best Veggie Taco. For a vegetarian taco, it really brought the heat, both in temperature and taste. The veggies were warm, well-cooked and seasoned, and juicy enough to provide flavor, but kept the taco from getting soggy. The taco’s signature Sriracha Mayo gave it the perfect amount of spice and contrasted with the coolness of its fresh guacamole. This taco gets extra points for its tortilla — hand made and gluten free. Overall, Los Ruizeñores’ tacos were a great deal at two for $6.50.
Best Fusion Taco: Kogi Short Rib Taco. The best fusion taco was hands down the Kogi Short Rib Taco, a true fan favorite. Toward the beginning of the festival, at 1 p.m., the line for the Kogi truck was over an hour long and growing at an unimaginable rate. Kogi, which offers tacos with a Korean Barbeque twist, offered four tacos: Short Rib, Spicy Pork, Chicken and Tofu, perhaps all of which are deserving of their own prize. Despite initial reservations about the size of the line, the tacos were very much worth the wait and at a reasonable price of two for $6, or three for $8.50.
Best Fish Taco: Guerrilla Tacos’ Ahi Poke Tuna with White Miso. Guerrilla Tacos’ ahi poke tuna taco perhaps also doubled as “least bang for your buck.” At $8 per taco, the tiny ahi tuna taco was anything but small in flavor. The crunch of the tortilla perfectly accompanied the firmness and flavor of the ahi tuna, leaving nothing to be desired but more.
Most Interesting: Guerrilla Tacos’ local baby squid with cannelli beans taco. This taco’s non-traditional, interesting mix of flavors and textures certainly earns the award for “most interesting.” The look of the taco was an immediate attention grabber, with a beautiful mix of the purple squid, red peppers and green salsa. While the squid served as the main attraction, the green salsa was really the true highlight of the taco with its spice and flavor. The combination of ingredients was a welcome surprise from the traditional taco. For $5 each, the taco was a bit pricey, but definitely worth a try.
Best Value: Homeboy Tacos. Homeboy was a certified hit at the L.A. Taco Festival, offering a varied menu and selection of tacos. Drawing a crowd big enough to rival Kogi, Homeboy customers were treated to a choice of pork carnitas, tinga, mole, pollo verde or veggie tacos at an unbeatable price of two for $4.50 or three for $6 (usually $2.50 per taco). While standouts of the Homeboy truck included the pork carnitas and veggie tacos, each taco on the menu brought its own taste and kick, offering traditional tacos to fans of authentic, original Mexican flavor.