Considered the founder of today’s gourmet food trucks, Roy Choi opened Kogi in 2008, using social media to create a buzz that made his Korean barbecue tacos famous. In the following years hundreds of food trucks hit Los Angeles roadways, gas stations, and parking lots selling the gamut of lunch specials from grilled cheese to ethnic foods to gourmet hot dogs.
Mexican taco trucks quickly found popularity. The concept of the street taco has been around forever in Mexico, where locals still queue up at taco stands to feast on roasted meats in soft, warm corn tortillas. The happy marriage of the food truck and street tacos yielded three standout Los Angeles food truck offspring: El Chato, Tacos Leo, and Ricky’s Fish Tacos.
Drive into the parking lot of the boarded-up auto shop at Olympic and La Brea any time after 9:00 p.m. (except Sunday) and try El Chato’s tacos made with carne asada, al pastor, cabeza, lengua, buche, tripas, chorizo, or pollo. While most customers leave cabeza, lengua, and tripas tacos to the more adventurous, tacos al pastor is the hands-down local favorite. The tacos stand alone, but a little hot sauce, pickled onions, or roasted jalapeños enhance the flavor experience.
Tacos Leo, or Leo’s Taco Truck, parks just down the street at La Brea and Venice. The flaming orange truck is hard to miss and open just about around the clock, with 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 a.m. hours every day but Sunday. After 7:00 p.m. employees draw crowds by pulling out the trompo, a giant spit that holds a hunk of flavored pork for tacos al pastor. Even with a hunk of sweet pineapple in each taco al pastor, Leo’s tasty tacos still weigh in at only $1.
Sometimes street taco cravings mean a trip down memory lane to coastal Ensenada, where only crunchy fried fish, pico de gallo, and a spritz of lime will do. Ricky Piña opened Ricky’s Fish Tacos as a traditional Ensenada taco stand in 2009, but later converted to a taco truck in 2013. Parked in Hollywood on N Virgil Avenue, Ricky still serves fish prepared with a closely-guarded batter recipe. The truck opens for lunch only, from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 or 5:00 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays.