LOS ANGELES, California — In this metropolis of taco trucks, stands, and restaurants, the options for great street tacos are infinite. Conventional plans can be boring and for that reason I drove an Inferno Orange 2018 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport around the city of Los Angeles in search of delicious tacos. After all, without “taco” there would be no T-a-c-o-ma.
Our well-equipped tester was priced at $40,670. It came equipped with the double cab-only TRD premium sport package, which adds leather-trimmed heated front seats, a moonroof, a premium JBL Audio system with integrated navigation and Toyota’s Entune app suite, dual zone automatic climate control, and auto headlights for $2,625. Another added option, the technology package, includes rear parking assist sonar, blind spot monitor, and cross-traffic alert. At a mere $800, this option is a stellar deal and worth the investment considering all those safety features.
Before starting the taco tour, I made a list of specific taco places I would drive to—in no chronological order, rain or shine—and narrowed it down to 10. In addition, I set some ground rules:
- Only tacos I never had.
- No franchises
- Parking on or near the premises
- No extremely long lines regardless of the hype. Nothing on my taco agenda was planned hence I would need to wing it and hope for the best.
I started at The Chori-Man, a storefront in San Pedro that serves Zacatecas-style chorizo, and placed my order of red chorizo, green chorizo, and chipotle braised beef tacos. With mouth-watering tacos in hand, I pulled down the tailgate, climbed into the back of the Tacoma, and went straight to work.
While sitting in the Tacoma’s bed, the soothing sunlight and cool breeze made devouring tacos curbside a heavenly experience. A passerby leaving Alma Market next door shouted, “now that’s how you do it there’s nothing like tacos and tailgating!” My favorite was the Tolucan-style green chorizo.
The Chori-Man began with Humberto Raygoza selling chorizo from a cooler on the streets of Culver City. After working various events and selling chorizo at a deli the growing demand prompted Raygoza to open the San Pedro store with business partner Mandy Barton. All chorizo sold here is made by Raygoza and if you ever happen to be in sleepy San Pedro, do yourself a favor and give The Chori-Man a visit.
I settled back into the driver seat and recruited my friend Manny to join me on the rest of the taco excursion. In my eyes, the Tacoma all black interior, durable leather seats, and extra cup holders on the center console are a plus. I’ve heard various gripes about the Toyota’s interior, including complaints about the manual adjustments on the front seats and the short distance telescopic steering column, but none of those fazed me. I welcome the old-school feel of manual seats, as most cars now in days possess power-adjustable ones.
When I pulled up to my next stop, Teddy’s Red Tacos on Slauson Avenue, the place was about to shut down. I quickly parked the bright orange Tacoma in front of the taco truck and dashed for the ordering window. After placing our order of birria tacos, Teddy suggested that we also try their quesadilla and consommé soup. How could I decline that? Teddy, an Oaxaca native, studied culinary in Tijuana, where he learned how to craft the birria taco before moving to Los Angeles to establish his business.
The sun was quietly disappearing when our highly anticipated birria tacos came out. Either I was in another dimension or sitting in the back of a Tacoma TRD Sport chowing down on some of the finest birria tacos this side of the U.S.-Mexico border. Then out of nowhere a wave of customers arrived several minutes past closing time. They were all served. No customer left behind at this taco truck.
After leaving Teddy’s, headed north towards the Tire Shop Taqueria on S. Avalon Boulevard—and didn’t stand a chance. Never in my life have I witnessed such an enormous crowd waiting in line for tacos. After crossing them off my list in agony, I hastily drove northwest to Leo’s Taco Truck on S. La Brea Avenue. Situated on a gas station lot, the place was total chaos but somehow, I parked the Tacoma in the middle of it all. I ordered al pastor tacos and used the Tacoma’s tailgate as a dinner table. Sadly, I was not impressed.
Next stop on the taco tour was El Chato Taco Truck, also located on S. La Brea Avenue, where I conveniently found a VIP parking spot. The line at this taco truck was moving rapidly. As buche and lengua tacos found their way into my hands, I proceeded to the warmth of the Tacoma’s cabin. The center console served as a table, making it effortless to eat tacos inside the Tacoma. I backed up my seat and opened the moonroof and front doors to fend off any evidence of tacos. On quick observation, the crowd at this place was small compared to Leo’s Taco Truck. However their tacos were amazing and got my seal of approval.
After El Chato, I threw in the towel for the night. My taco tour would continue the following morning.
I began day two by steering the Tacoma toward East Los Angeles in hopes of finding Carnitas El Momo and L Fish Tacos. Unfortunately, both curbside taco stands were nowhere to be found. Improvising I quickly found another option in the area called Santa Rita Jalisco Taco Truck. Putting the Tacoma in reverse, I squeezed into the last available space near the truck. When my tripa and cabeza tacos came out I jumped into the back of the Tacoma to enjoy my first taco round of the day. If you are ever driving on the 10 Freeway near East L.A., take a detour. Their tacos will not disappoint.
Afterwards, I continued to Sky’s Gourmet Tacos on W. Pico Boulevard, where a parking space directly next to the restaurant awaited the Tacoma. This time I used the hood of the Tacoma as a tabletop because why not. Sky’s savory lobster and shrimp tacos were bursting with flavor and I became an instant fan. I can confidently exclaim that their lobster taco is the best I ever had. Sky’s has been serving their unique marinated tacos in the Mid-City area of Los Angeles for 26 years and I cannot wait to return to sample their shrimp nachos. By the time I looked up directions to Guerilla Tacos in Culver City they were closed, forcing me to cross them off my list. Thankfully, Ricky’s Fish Tacos on Riverside Drive was still open for business—and that’s where the taco tour would end.
Located minutes away from Griffith Park near Los Feliz Boulevard, Ricky’s Fish Tacos serves Ensenada-style fish and shrimp tacos. I ordered one of each and proudly sat next to the attention seeking orange Tacoma that appeared to be hauling the taco truck. These tasty Baja style tacos easily made it on my top three of the entire tour.
The 2018 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport proved to be an excellent choice for an L.A. taco tour. This midsize pickup provided various ways to consume delicious tacos outdoors and it was as much a part of the taco tour experience. The taco tour would not be as cool or engaging with another car. This truck inspired the idea and without it there wouldn’t be a taco tour.
2018 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport 4×4 Specifications
|ENGINE||3.5-liter DOHC 24-valve V6/278 hp @ 6,000 rpm, 265 lb-ft @ 4,600 rpm|
|LAYOUT||4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, 4WD truck|
|EPA MILEAGE||18/23 mpg (city/hwy)|
|L x W x H||212.3 x 75.2 x 70.6 in|