It’s no secret that California is home to some of the country’s best tacos, which goes hand in hand with a cold cerveza or tequila. From up and down the coast, we created a go-to Mexican-flared checklist with authentic eats including street style, Cali-Mex and coastal Baja grub.

San Diego

Handmade corn tortillas are key at Curadero

  • On the second floor of Hotel Palomar, drop by the late-night taco window at Curadero. Chefs Brad Kraten and Emiliano Najera’s casual Mexican style street food includes braised short rib “Saudero” tacos with marinated onions, cilantro, and chipotle peanut salsa and washed down with a classic El Viejo mixing tequila, agave, angostura and mole bitters.
  • In Pacific Beach, the colorful-chic restaurant Pueblo highlights duck confit and smoked marlin tacos. They’re served with all the fixings like chopped green olives, green cabbage, pico de gallo, capers and avocado. Locals take them to the rooftop alongside a proper range of 100% agave tequilas and mezcals.
  • Just a few blocks from the ocean, La Jolla’s Galaxy Taco serves Baja-style grub including fried fish tacos with lime chile cream and a meatless potato option with chorizo verde spice, kale, hoja santa and crispy jack cheese. Order a Cadillac margarita with reposado tequila, lime, agave and Mandarine Napoleon float.

Goodness piled high on house made heirloom masa (Spanish for dough). Photo credit: Galaxy Taco

Los Angeles

  • Served from his kitted out truck, Chef Wes Avila’s Guerilla Tacos cooks up a rotating menu of unique delights including creative concoctions like green bean and egg tacos or a sea snail taco with garlic butter, valley chili, pickled onion and cilantro.
  • From Chef Ray Garcia, the buzzy B.S. Taqueria creates an army of tacos featuring ingredients like mushroom and garlic and clams and lardo. Enjoy them in between sips of the refreshing “Pistolero” made with tequila blanco, pineapple cordial and Serrano.
  • The small, downtown storefront Sonoratown whips up northern Mexico-style street tacos including classics like the mesquite-fired carne asada taco lovingly prepared on handmade tortillas.

Huntington Beach

Fried avocado tacos sitting pretty at Pacific Hideaway

  • Inside the cheery Pacific Hideaway, vibrant coastal-inspired Ono Tacos doles out unique options from crispy avocado to tamarind glaze and Korean beef. In the mood to cook? Try Chef JT Walker’s favorite grilled taco recipe here.
  • With a menu befitting of its name, nab a patio seat at Solita Tacos and Margaritas and order from over ten varieties. Our favorites are the chile and garlic rubbed tofu or battered shrimp, both served on small fresh corn tortillas. Throw in a pitcher of crushed watermelon margaritas while you’re at it.

San Francisco

A classic margarita washes all of these tacos down.

  • In the Mission District, the 40-year old La Taqueria (touted by James Beard as an “American classic”) serves traditional style tacos with pork, beef or veggies made with only cilantro and onions. Wash everything down with a cool agua fresca made with strawberry or an earthy horchata with cinnamon.
  • Hidden in a back alley of chef Gabriela Camara’s upscale Cala, the lunch-only (and standing room only) Tacos Cala doles out authentic Mexico-City style tacos with braised pork and squid in adobo alongside refreshing fruit drinks.
  • For fish tacos, Nopalito subscribes to a local, sustainable philosophy of homemade delights like seared tacos with onion, orange, ancho chile adobo and tomatillo. Thirsty? Sip an “El Diablo” with tequila, cassis, Bundaberg ginger beer and lime.

Fish tacos with a dash of pizzazz  Photo credit: Nopalito

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