When it comes to finding some amazing tacos in the U.S., Southern California is pretty much the place to be. This list provides an overview of some favorite local joints as well as a couple of nearby outliers that are worth the trek. Keep in mind that variety is the spice of life. Read on to see what we mean, and enjoy!

Puesto

At Puesto, guests can expect a royal experience. While they do have a full bar, colorful salads, appetizers and seafood dishes, the menu’s tacos run the gamut from chicken al pastor (melted cheese, hibiscus and chipotle tinga, avocado and piña habanero pico) to grilled portobello (cilantro chimichurri, papas fritas and avocado). Their collection of nearly a dozen varieties of designer tacos are presented as impressively as they are comprised of delicious ingredients. 

8577 Irvine Center Drive, Irvine; 3311 Michelson Drive, Irvine.

(Courtesy of Cha Cha’s Latin Kitchen)

Cha Cha’s Latin Kitchen

Cha Cha’s provides more nouveau chic. Their menu is extensive and includes salads, sandwiches, enchiladas and flautas. They also have a bar with numerous cocktail and tequila options. Their taco options include: chicken, steak, carnitas or wild mushrooms. Your presentation will look like such a work of art that you will be tempted to preserve its beauty by not consuming it. Naturally, after photographing your meal with your phone, this impulse will pass as you escort your taste buds to heaven. 13126 Jamboree Road, Irvine.

(Courtesy of Chronic Tacos)

Chronic Tacos 

With Chronic Tacos, we’re getting back to some brass tacks tacos. Located in the Alton Square shopping center, you essentially build your meal here. Starting with the category, first you choose: taco, burrito, salad, quesadilla, torta, etc…Then you choose your filling: pollo asado, carnitas, al pastor, carne asada, fish, shrimp or vegetarian. Finally, make it a meal, choose extras, etc… In the end, what you’re most likely going to get is a satisfying meal. Alton Square, 5365 Alton Parkway, Ste D, Irvine; 14435 Culver Drive, Irvine.

Falasophy

All right, now don’t get upset, but we’re doing a little something borderline with this one (no pun intended). This food truck’s description of their Falasophy creations is “spicy modern tacos.” There are three entries in Falasophy’s modern taco selection, and they are: falafel (avocado, pineapple-pickled jalapeños, pickled red cabbage, cilantro-garlic sauce, and tahini); chicken shawarma (pickled daikon and carrots, pineapple-pickled jalapeños, cilantro and garlic sauce); and slow cooked leg of lamb (sumac-onions, parsley, pineapple-pickled jalapeños, pickled turnips and tzatziki). Food Truck (locations vary).


Outside the Bubble

Tortas Y Jugos Sahuayo

For Tortas Y Jugos Sahuayo, we’re willing to drive to Tustin. They are really best known for their tortas, smoothies and desserts (their concha with ice cream is the stuff dreams are made of). However, since their chicken, beef and chorizo tacos are delicious too, we thought we’d let our readers know that there’s some very tasty Michoacán flavor waiting for them just beyond the Tustin border. 14520 Newport Ave., Ste B., Tustin.

(Courtesy of KoJa Kitchen)

KoJa Kitchen

You ready for something mind-blowing? Try Japanese/Korean fusion in the form of a taco. There are certainly plenty of non-taco items on their menu, but the tacos they do have are pretty special. There is the beef taco (Korean BBQ beef, sautéed onions, sesame vinaigrette lettuce, red sauce, Japanese mayo, fried onions and nori), the braised pork taco (miso-coconut braised pork, arugula, garlic aioli, masago, lemon wedge and fried onions), the chicken taco (Korean BBQ chicken, sesame vinaigrette lettuce, wasabi mayo, cilantro and fried onions), and the Zen Taco (soy and portobello mushroom patty, sesame vinaigrette lettuce, red sauce, Japanese mayo, fried onions and nori). 2943 El Camino Real, Tustin.