Food Trucks | 99 Essential Restaurants 2015

Food Trucks

Guerrilla Tacos

photo by Garrett Snyder

To truly appreciate and understand Guerrilla Tacos, first throw out your idea of what a taco might contain, what the definition of a torta is or in what location you’re likely to find some of the city’s most exciting cooking. Wes Avila’s truck, which you can find parked outside of fine coffeehouses in the Arts District and Culver City (depending on the day), is a pilgrimage site for folks who might like their tostada topped with deep pink hamachi, vibrant orange uni and a smattering of edible flowers, or their torta made from a small buttery toasted croissant piled with lamb meatballs, red pepper escabeche and a forest of arugula. Tacos are made from the best vegetables of the season and amped up by Avila’s boundless imagination, as well as a fine-dining background that shows itself in his impeccable seasoning and attention to beauty on the plate. Leave your preconceptions at home and reap the rewards.— Besha Rodell

Kogi BBQ Truck

photo by Anne Fishbein

At this point, Kogi is practically edible academic text, an utterly necessary experience if you want to understand L.A., our food scene and our most visible culinary troubadour, Roy Choi. The fleet of trucks, which daily appear all over the city, are most famously dispensers of the original Korean tacos, a trend that has now swept the globe, for better or worse. At Kogi the existence of the mash-up is undoubtedly for the good of us all, the sweet slightly sour kimchi making beautiful sense nestled against beef short rib or spicy pork and wrapped in a tortilla. The Kogi dog is also a thing of wonder, a snappy hot dog showered in shredded romaine, kimchi and Sriracha. From the burritos to the sliders to the Sriracha candy bar, this is undoubtedly food for the inebriated (booze or weed, pick your poison), but there’s something childishly gleeful about it, too, something that will make you grin and snarf it down even stone cold sober. As a symbol for our city, its diversity, sense of fun and the talent of our people, we couldn’t ask for a better (or more delicious) emblem.— Besha Rodell

La Estrella Taco Truck

photo by Anne Fishbein

You could be plopped down just about anywhere in Highland Park and stumble onto a fantastic taco, many served from trucks. But our favorite in the neighborhood is La Estrella, a truck that has served the neighborhood for two decades and is worth seeking out even with all the other taco bounty that surrounds it. (Not to confuse the matter, but there are quite a few taco spots called La Estrella in L.A. and even a couple in Highland Park — we are talking about the inconspicuous white truck parked at the corner of York and Avenue 54.) There’s a particular magic to a perfect street taco, and La Estrella has it down. For $1.40, you get two or three of the best bites of food you could ask for. The meats are tender and delicious, the tortillas warm and sweet, the salsa tangy and smoky, the onion and cilantro scattered in just the right way. No wonder it has thrived on this York Boulevard corner for more than 20 years. Here’s to 20 more.— Besha Rodell

Mariscos Jalisco

photo by Anne Fishbein

Don’t be fooled by the imitators, the lesser producers, the many other tacos dorado de camaron in L.A. The version at Raul Ortega’s Mariscos Jalisco, the Boyle Heights mariscos truck, is far and away the king of fried tacos, in this city and perhaps in the country. Don’t be confused by the crowds surrounding the other trucks nearby. Go directly to this corner of Olympic Boulevard and wait as they fold the shrimp into a tortilla and fry the whole thing in hot oil, pulling it out at the perfect point of golden crisp, then coat it with creamy slices of avocado and pert red salsa. If you’re in the mood for a feast, the Poseidon tostada, loaded with a jumble of ceviche, octopus and shrimp aguachile, will have you feeling like a god of the sea yourself. For that, and for the crispy tacos, our loyalty will never waver.— Besha Rodell

Ricky's Fish Tacos

photo by Danny Liao

It was a perfect L.A. moment: standing in a parking lot across the street from a Vons, eating the most glorious fish tacos, which had been fried right before you on a makeshift setup. It was too good to be true. The original iteration of Ricky’s Fish Tacos came to an end, but he’s now returned with a truck (which he parks in that same parking lot), which is a little more typical, I suppose, but doesn’t change the fact that these fish tacos could rival any fish taco anywhere. Ricky Piña’s Baja-style tacos are the stuff of legend, the delicate white fish cooked to an ideal golden brown, topped with chopped cabbage and pico de gallo and folded into a warm flour tortilla. There’s creamy white sauce and spicy red salsa to drizzle at your discretion, and there are shrimp tacos as well if you want to mix it up. For $3 apiece, it really does not get any better than this.— Besha Rodell

Tacos Leo

photo by Noah Galuten

At midnight on any given Friday night, a good portion of the late-night dining population in Los Angeles can be found at the parking lot of the 76 gas station at the corner of La Brea and Venice. Tacos Leo is the reason everyone’s here; it’s the truck that rolled onto the blogging radar around 2010 thanks to its fantastic al pastor, which it marinates on a rotating trompo that looks like the three-dimensional exclamation mark that came with your Windows 3.1 clipart package. On your order, a taquero will shave off a few thin slices of that marinated pork leg, flick them onto a warmed tortilla and follow it up with a quick slice of pineapple. It hardly needs anything else, but there’s a generous salsa bar here, too, if you want it. These tacos cost the same as they did four years ago: $1. But you know they’re worth at least twice that. —Tien Nguyen