Most of us in L.A. spend an inordinate amount of time eating tacos, very good tacos, at our local taqueria or taco truck — or even at some of the best restaurants in town. There's the al pastor crowd, the carnitas crowd, the fish taco crowd. But there are many great other iterations of our favorite food, as anyone who stalks Wes Avila's Guerrilla Taco truck knows.
A potato taco (taco de papa) might not seem as flashy as one stuffed with meat, but it can be amazing if done correctly. They're great for non-carnivores, or in addition to all the other high-protein tacos you're ordering. They're inexpensive, which is nice if you're making them at home too, they make great breakfasts and they're about as good a vehicle for hot sauce as it gets.
Colonia Taco Lounge
Actually, there are two potato tacos at Colonia Taco Lounge, chef Ricardo Diaz's taqueria in El Monte — an oasis across the street from a body shop and a topless bar. One is a house-made corn tortilla around sliced potatoes with peppers and avocado; the other is two tacos comprised of mashed potatoes inside corn tortillas that have been deep-fried and then topped with a green salad and bits of cheese. As it’s pointless to argue about which is better, just order them both. You should probably also order a few more tacos from the chalkboard by the door, just because you’ve come all the way to La Puente and you can. 13030 Valley Blvd., La Puente, (626) 363-4691.
Open for almost 30 years, this is an old-school taqueria on the corner of Fair Oaks and California, just south of Old Town in Pasadena. They serve old-school tacos too: crunchy tortillas, shredded iceberg lettuce, diced tomatoes, grated cheese. Go for breakfast — the place opens at 8 a.m. — and get two potato tacos for $4. And there's a salsa bar to torque up your breakfast, and little desserts in the case on the counter too. 1 W. California Blvd., Ste 211, Pasadena, (626) 795-9291.
The first of Jimmy Shaw's popular Mexican restaurants, the Loteria in the Original Farmers Market was the first and is still the most fun — a little taqueria in the middle of the crowded market. You can grab a counter seat and watch your tortillas being made, including the one that your potato taco came on. Loteria's potato tacos are made with mashed potatoes with roasted poblanos and topped with a bit of cheese and cilantro. They're big and lovely, especially atop the excellent corn tortillas. 6333 W. 3rd St., Los Angeles, (323) 930-2211, loteriagrill.com.
Best Fish Taco in Ensenada
This low-key taco stand is not, of course, in Ensenada, but on Hillhurst in Loz Feliz. It's a Baja-style taqueria — with an outdoor patio as big as the shop — which serves some pretty great potato tacos in addition to those with fish and shrimp. Watch your taco being made on a counter near the boiling vats of oil. The potato taco here is mashed potatoes folded into a corn taco, with a bit of salsa, scallions and grated cheese on top. If you want more stuff on your taco, there's a counter to the left of those vats with big bowls of salsa and, of course, hot sauce on the tables outside. 1650 Hillhurst Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 466-5552, bestfishtacoinensenada.com.
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