Customers wait hours for tacos from this Leimert Park window. They’re worth it

Jennifer Brown grins after receiving her tacos and burrito at Worldwide Tacos.

There are already a few cars idling when I pull into the parking lot at Worldwide Tacos. It’s midafternoon and the leaning palm trees behind the sloped, burnished-cherry building cast long shadows in the street.

As I park and walk over to the street-side window, another customer follows me.

“Have you been here before?” she asks. There’s a “Closed” sign in the window that faces the parking lot, but easels with neatly handwritten menus are balanced outside, which I now know — it’s my fourth visit — means they’re open.

A fresh batch of tacos from Worldwide Taco, dressed and ready to go.

A fresh batch of tacos from Worldwide Taco, dressed and ready to go.

Robb Peron makes an order at Worldwide's walkup window.

Robb Peron makes an order at Worldwide’s walkup window. Peron said he knew the wait would take awhile, but he was a happy customer once he took the first bite of his burrito.


I give her the rundown I wish someone had shared with me on visit one or two: After someone comes to the window and takes her order, they’ll get her phone number and call her when it’s ready. She’ll get an estimated wait time, at least 30 minutes and up to three hours. Her eyebrows leap with surprise.

“They’re worth it,” I assure her. Skeptical, she gets in line behind me.

I think about telling her that she’s lucky she arrived at 3 p.m. instead of noon as I did on my first visit. It was on my third attempt that I learned to trust the hours of operation listed on the website — 3-8 p.m. — rather than the information shared on Google.

After another moment, she taps me on the shoulder.

“What should I get?”

Lamb, salmon, crab and duck jump out on the menu board, along with the usual taco fillings like chicken, shrimp, steak and ground beef, plus an entire menu dedicated to vegan and plant-based options. There are columns of flavors listed beneath the meats: jerk, teriyaki, curry, lemon pepper, piña colada, blueberry with blue cheese, tequila chili lime, raspberry chipotle, Hawaiian. Customers can combine meats like lobster and steak for a surf-and-turf burrito, get fresh-cut potato wedges coated in a spicy seasoning blend or add a sweet potato bar for dessert.

“You can’t go wrong,” I tell her.

Worldwide Tacos co-owner Frederick Sennie.

Co-owners Frederick Sennie and Jay Sin founded Worldwide Tacos on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard near Leimert Park in 2002. More than two decades later, it’s still just the two of them most of the time, though Sennie’s son Ahmiir and his cousin Charles Osbourne help out when they can.

Tacos here are dressed with tomatoes, shredded lettuce, yellow cheese, folded corn tortillas that are fried to order and house mild or hot sauce, in a style that’s common among local Black chefs.

Sennie, who was raised on soul food and trained in his home kitchen, draws influence from the chicken tacos that his dad made for him growing up, as well as mom-and-pop spots that defined his L.A. youth, like Taco Mamas on Vernon and Hooper avenues, which now does business as El Taco Mexicano No. 2.

“All of the places I ate at growing up, we have a version of something they do here, but with my twist on it,” says Sennie.

Sennie also is inspired by Muslim family members, one of whom introduced him to halal lamb meat during Ramadan. “After that, I started buying mostly halal meat,” he says.


For the beef tacos — available ground or with chunks of steak — Sennie opts for lean meat with just 10% fat. Cradled in fried tortillas with shredded cheese, the lower fat content prevents the taco from getting too greasy.

Over time, the menu expanded to more than 300 flavor combinations.

Arilee Baptist poses for a portrait.
Los Angeles, CA - February 8: Joe Leo poses for a portrait.
Los Angeles, CA - February 8: James Paschall smiles after receiving his tacos and burrito.

Patient Worldwide Taco customers Arilee Baptist, Joe Leo and James Paschall, after receiving their orders from the taco stand.

Frederick Sennie puts hot sauce on a grilled shrimp taco.

“I’ve always been creative,” Sennie tells me. “I just make things up, toss it on the wall and see if it sticks.”

The neighborhood taco stand began to live up to its name after it was featured in producer-actor Issa Rae’s HBO series “Insecure.” In the episode (“Fresh-like,” Season 3, Episode 4), Rae’s character, Issa Dee, bumps into Nathan Campbell, a rideshare passenger and eventual love interest played by Kendrick Sampson, at Worldwide Tacos. Issa is so surprised to see him that she promptly drops her taco.


Nathan orders her a replacement, balking when Sennie, playing himself, deadpans: “It’s gonna be at least an hour.”

The shoutout was an Easter egg for South L.A. fans who knew of secret flavors like the Thai shrimp taco that Nathan orders — as well as the takeout window’s infamous wait times. As with other filming locations on the show, such as the Dunes apartment building in Inglewood that’s referred to as the Black Hollywood sign, Worldwide Tacos became a popular stop for Black tourists in L.A.

Sennie started an Instagram for Worldwide Tacos shortly after it appeared on “Insecure” in 2018, but these days the account is mostly inactive. The shop is not on any delivery apps, but if you come by often enough, Sennie might eventually give you his number and invite you to place your order directly with him. He has plans to re-launch the website with an updated menu soon, but for now, ordering at the window and waiting for a phone call is the way to go.

Porsha Scott cradles her daughter Amil Flowers, 2, as they wait for their order in the parking lot.

After the curious first-timer behind me places her order, she heads out to run a few errands. Another customer, Porsha Scott, passes the time by playing chase with her 2-year-old daughter in the parking lot. Scott, who lives in Corona, estimates that she drives up for the tacos twice a month — jerk shrimp is her go-to order.


Traffic begins to pile on the boulevard as the sun sways below the horizon. A car blares its horn as it drives by, with the driver leaning out the window to wave at Sennie.

“Community has always been the bulk of our support,” Sennie says. “People who grew up right here in the neighborhood.”