6 vegetarian taco recipes from some favorite L.A. chefs

overhead view of two mushroom tacos and a dish of chile salsa on a light blue table
(Tacos al Hongos by Tacos 1986. Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times. Prop styling by Kate Parisian.)

Make vegetarian tacos like a pro at home with these 6 recipes from some of L.A.’s best chefs, using jackfruit, cauliflower, mushrooms and more.


Sometimes you crave a great taco — a great vegetarian taco. You might find delicious vegetarian tacos at one of L.A.’s best classic Mexican restaurants or track one down at your favorite taco truck. Or, you could make tacos yourself, at home, in your own kitchen. You want it to be easy, and, of course, delicious. Fortunately, some of the city’s best taqueros have shared their taco recipes with us — some vegan, some vegetarian. Mushroom tacos, cauliflower tacos, jackfruit tacos ... all with flavors that pop.

You might think carnitas have no place in a vegan taco, but cookbook author and food activist Jocelyn Ramirez uses meaty jackfruit to imitate the texture of pork in Vegan Jackfruit Carnitas Tacos. Doused with a smoky chipotle salsa, these tacos are spicy and savory. A squeeze of lemon brightens the flavors.

Another vegan taco option is Danny Trejo’s Roasted Rainbow Cauliflower Tacos. Pickled onions and grilled corn along with purple, green and orange cauliflower are nestled into cashew cream on a warmed corn tortilla and garnished with cilantro leaves, roasted cashews and radish slices. Flavor, texture and good nutrition all in the palm of your hand.

The mushrooms in Jorge Alvarez-Tostado’s Tacos 1986 Tacos Al Hongo are seared until they are as crispy as chips and then softened in his salsa macha vinaigrette before being stuffed into corn tortillas and topped with guacamole, onion and cilantro — and more Salsa Macha.

Ready in 25 minutes from start to finish, Genevieve Ko’s Spring Onion Home Fry Tacos might be the easiest tacos you’ve ever prepared. Spring onions and potatoes get a hit of flavor from ground ancho chile to make a simple, tasty filling complemented by cotija cheese, jalapeños, lime and salsa.

Given the extreme heat and lack of rain this year, Wes Avila’s Drought-Friendly Vegetable Tacos are a timely choice. Purple from the eggplant, various shades of green from chicory, green beans and scallions and the white of cannellini beans play off of the orange-hued tortillas (orange from mixing yams into the tortilla masa) to make these tacos as colorful as they are delicious.

Avila’s Sweet Potato Tacos With Leeks And Almond Salsa are as complex as anything you might find in a fine-dining restaurant. In 2013, these vegetarian tacos were on the list of the late Times restaurant critic Jonathan Gold’s best dishes of the year. Avila’s French training is evident in this recipe, both in how he treats the leeks and in his abundant use of butter.


Roasted rainbow cauliflower tacos

Orange, green and lavender cauliflower and roasted corn on a griddled tortilla are topped with cashew cream, pickled onions, cilantro, radishes and lime wedges.
Time1 hour
YieldsMakes 6 tacos

Drought-friendly vegetable tacos

Yams in the masa make the tortillas orange. The grilled eggplant, haricot vert, green onions, cannellini beans and peas are doused with sherry vinegar to make the flavors pop.
Time3 hours
YieldsMakes 24 tacos

Vegan Jackfruit Carnitas Tacos

This vegan jackfruit carnitas tacos recipe is shared by Jocelyn Ramirez of L.A.-based catering company Todo Verde in her cookbook, "La Vide Verde."
Time45 minutes
YieldsServes 4 to 6

Tacos 1986 Tacos al Hongo

Jorge Alvarez-Tostado sears the mushrooms for his tacos al hongo until they’re as crisp as chips, then soaks them with a salsa macha vinaigrette.
Time35 minutes
YieldsServes 4

Spring Onion Home Fry Tacos

These tacos taste good with either corn or flour tortillas. Salsa verde brightens the mellow mix with its tomatillo tang, and red salsa — whether chile- or tomato-based — adds warmth.
Time25 minutes
YieldsServes 4

Tacos 1986 Salsa Macha

Salsa macha combines dried chiles and garlic with olive oil, and this Tacos 1986 recipe includes sesame seeds for a nutty richness and orange juice for brightness.
Time10 minutes
YieldsMakes about 1 ½ cups

Sweet potato tacos with leeks and almond salsa

This taco was on the late Times restaurant critic Jonathan Gold's list of best dishes of 2013. It is at once creamy, salty, sweet and spicy with an equally wide range of textures.
Time1 hour 30 minutes
YieldsServes 4 to 6