The best tacos in Chinatown

One of the best perks about living in Los Angeles is the abundance of Mexican food. We have a great selection of Mexican restaurants that dot the streets of Los Angeles and that’s thanks to the large community of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans that call the City of Angels home. The Mexican food scene is more than rice and beans; yes, you’ll see familiar items shared between restaurants but it does vary according to the state from which the specific cuisine originates. These restaurants will proudly display their hometown or state in their business name: Villa Moreliana carnitas estilo Michoacan, Chichen Itza, Mexicali Taco & Co., etc.

Shrimp tacos

I’ve eaten my way through various Mexican restaurants, taco stands and taco trucks. The restaurants are each different in their own way; they can embrace traditional cuisine, are Americanized and seek to appeal to a general palate, are modern and utilize French cooking techniques with a haute cuisine approach to presentation or they’re fusion and combine their cuisine with that of another culture. There’s also vegan Mexican food and it’s not as bad you may think considering there’s no guisos – braised meats, cheese or cream in any of the food. I do appreciate the many ways that Mexican cuisine can be prepared, but I tend to stick to food that tastes more casera – homecooked.

Queso fundido

Out of all the possible dishes you can think of within Mexican cuisine, the pinnacle of my gastronomical existence lies within my love for tacos. I would eat tacos daily if I could. It’s the perfect street food that satisfies all of your cravings. There’s a spot that I’ve become very familiar with and that’s Mexicali Taco and Co. As the name suggests, they’re a taqueria. Their expertly grilled meats served on a warm corn or scratch flour Baja-style tortilla are superb. Pair it with any of the various fresh salsas from the bar and you have a winning combination. The shrimp tacos are my Achilles heel. Each shrimp taco comes with three jumbo shrimp cooked in a red chile sauce on a bed of melted cheese and simply topped with fresh chopped cilantro. Simplicity at its best.

Carne asada fries with a fried egg

I frequent them so often that I can easily say I’ve had everything on the menu twice over – and then some. While I do love their tacos, they also have other items that I enjoy. The vampiro is a garlic-y quesadilla filled with a meat of your choice. A quesadilla is great but a vampiro knocks it out of the park. I order mine with carne asada – garlic, cheese and carne asada is a great combination and if you haven’t had it before I suggest you try it. They also have carne asada fries on the menu. Add a fried egg and enjoy it over breakfast or brunch. These are definitely a guilty pleasure of mine. Why? Because it’s a mountain of fries topped with creamy cilantro salsa, guacamole, cheese and a pile of meat. A runny yolk too if you opt to add the egg.

Al pastor tacos

The tacos alone warrant a visit, but everything at this fast-casual spot from the rotating aguas frescas to the cachetadas will get you hooked on the flavors of Baja.

Mexicali Taco & Co.

702 N. Figueroa St.

Los Angeles, CA 90012