America’s 75 Best Tacos for 2015

So what makes a taco great, exactly? It all depends — but here are 75 from around the country
America's 75 Best Tacos

Jody Horton

The best tacos tend to be simple, with clean, vibrant, and varied flavors.

This is 2015's ranking. For 2016's ranking, please click here

The taco inspires fierce passion and loyalty throughout the United States. Ask a resident of Texas (Austin and Houston in particular) where the country’s best tacos are, and they’ll say you’re certain to find them in their city, full of pulled and smoked meat. Head to San Diego and you’re sure to meet some people who are absolutely convinced that there’s nothing better than the fried fish tacos that are ubiquitous there. Elsewhere, purists say there's nothing like a carnitas taco, or a taco al pastor.

America’s 75 Best Tacos (Slideshow)

And you know what? They're all right. New Yorkers have complained for years that it’s tough to find a great taco in their city, but in recent times, several have been introduced that rival the best you’ll find in Mexico. And, up in Chicago, a town that has never exactly been a taco paradise, Maxwell Street Market has arguably become a world-class taco destination.

What makes a great taco, exactly? The best ones tend to be simple, with clean, vibrant, and varied flavors, each component good enough to stand on its own. A perfect taco is balanced in flavor, and isn’t loaded down by superfluous add-ons. The tortilla (traditionally corn in Mexico, but often flour around the U.S. today) should be super fresh and, ideally, handmade where it will be served. The filling should be made with an eye for balance in taste and moisture level. The toppings, be they traditional onions and cilantro or new-wave chipotle harissa, should brighten, heighten, and tie the whole taco together into a cohesive, delicious dish.

We’ve tackled the task of ranking the country’s best twice before, and this time we looked to our readers to help us identify more of the best. We put out a call to action, asking them to comment on our site or our social media pages, or to email us with their nominations for the best tacos in the country. Additionally, we asked our knowledgeable Daily Meal staff and City Editors to weigh in with their picks. We gathered these nominees together and added them to all the tacos that were considered last year.

In the end, we had a list of about 330 tacos, which we then compiled into a survey and sent to our distinguished panel of taco experts — food and restaurant personalities who know a superior taco when they taste one. They voted, we tallied the results, and then put together America’s 75 Best Tacos for you, our readers, to enjoy:

75) Torres Taco Haven, San Antonio: Ralphie's Special

Owned and operated by the Jerry Torres family, the two locations of Torres Taco Haven in San Antonio are regarded as great places to get authentic Mexican food made by the locals. The Ralphie Special is a crowd favorite: it’s made up of three tacos filled with marinated chicken, topped with grated cabbage and sliced tomato and garnished with lemon.

74) FUEL Charleston, Charleston, S.C.: Braised Pork

FUEL Charleston offers Caribbean-influenced food with a menu that boasts house-ground burgers, jerk chicken, a bevy of salads, and — you guessed it — tacos. Their braised pork taco comes with green chile aïoli, green slaw, and sweet onion relish, and was one of Guy Fieri’s  top picks when he visited FUEL on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.


America's 75 Best Tacos


75. Torres Taco Haven, San Antonio: Ralphie's Special

74. FUEL Charleston, Charleston, S.C.: Braised Pork

73. Rubi's At Maxwell Street Market, Chicago: Huitlacoche

72. Border Grill, Las Vegas: Crispy Potato Rajas

71. Carnitas Uruapan, Chicago: Carnitas

70. Taqueria Del Sol, Atlanta: Smoked Brisket

69. Gonzalez, Dallas: Crispy Beef Tacos with Salsa Fresca

68. Fat Fish, San Diego: Fish

67. Loteria Grill, Los Angeles: Carne Deshebrada

66. Essex, Seattle: Fish

65. Good 2 Go Taco, Dallas: Paris Texas

64. Tacos Mex y Mariscos, Albequerque: Al Pastor

63. Pinches Tacos, Los Angeles: Carne Asada

62. Reyes Deli and Grocery, Brooklyn, N.Y.: Carnitas

61. Cacao Mexicatessen, Los Angeles: Fish

60. Bear Flag Fish Co., Newport Beach, Calif.: Basa

59. Las Cuatro Milpas, San Diego: Shredded Pork

58. Ramona's, Gardena, Calif.: Ground Beef and Potato Taco

57. Basico, Charleston, S.C.: Fried Chicken with Watermelon Rind

56. Habanero Mexican Cafe, Austin: Barbacoa

55. Los Cinco Puntos, Los Angeles: Carnitas

54. Taqueria Vallarta, San Francisco: Al Pastor

53. Tacos Morelos, New York City: Chorizo

52. El Vez, Philadelphia: Grilled Shrimp Tacos al Carbon

51. La Ranchera, Abilene, Texas: Lengua

50. Downtown Bakery, New York City: Chicken Mole

49. La Lagartija Taqueria, Chicago: Shrimp

48. La Nueva Fresh & Hot Tortilleria, Dallas: Guisado Verde

47. Taco Boy, Charleston, S.C.: Carnitas Norteno

46. Papalote Taco House, Austin, Texas: Cecina Taco

45. Guisados, Los Angeles: Cochinita Pibil

44. Laredo Taqueria, Houston: Pork in Red Sauce

43. Mariscos El Pulpo, San Diego: Pulpo Ajillo

42. Empellón Taqueria, New York City: Beer-Braised Pork Tongue

41. El Rey Del Taco, Atlanta: Cabeza

40. Seviche, Louisville, Ky.: Mahi Mahi

39. El Charrito, Riverside, Conn.: Carnitas Taco

38. Ines Bakery, Brooklyn, N.Y.: Tinga

37. Tacolicious, San Francisco: Bistec Adobado

36. Joe's Bakery, Austin, Texas: Carne Guisada Taco

35. New York Bakery, New York City: Fish

34. Taco Taco Café, San Antonio: Puffy Taco with Picadillo

33. Pinche Taquería, Denver, Co.: Pork Belly “‘Agridulce

32. Bob's Taco Station, Rosenberg, Texas: Barbacoa Taco

31. Supermercado Chicago, Atlanta: Carne Asada Taco

30. Frontera GrilFrontera Grill, Chicago: Arabes

29. Tehuitzingo, New York City: Suadero

28. El Parasol, Santa Fe, N.M.: Shredded Beef Taco

27. Big Star, Chicago: Spit-Roasted Pork

26. Hugo's Tacos, Los Angeles: Carnitas

25. Dora's Deli, Walla Walla, Wash.: Vegetable Taco

24. Ray's Drive Inn, San Antonio: Carne Guisada Puffy Taco

23. Mary and Tito's Café, Albuquerque, N.M.: Carne Adovada Taco

22. La Condesa, Austin, Texas: Arábicos Taco

21. Matt's Famous El Rancho, Austin, Texas: Al Carbón Taco

20. Los Tacos No. 1, New York City: Adobada

19. ABC Cocina, New York City: Short Rib

18. Tacomiendo, Los Angeles: Potato Taco

17. Chico's, El Paso, Texas: Chico's Taco

16. Kogi, Los Angeles: Korean Short-Rib

15. Henry's Puffy Tacos, San Antonio: Puffy Taco

14. Tortilleria Nixtamal, Queens, N.Y.: Carnitas Taco

13. Mi Tierra, San Antonio: Carnitas Michoacan

12. La Super-Rica, Santa Barbara, Calif.: Tri-Tip

11. Tacos la Vaquita, Durham, N.C.: Barbacoa

10. Mexicali Taco & Co., Los Angeles: Chorizo

9. Birrieria Zaragoza, Chicago: Birria Tatemada Taco

8. Tito's Tacos, Culver City, Calif.: Tito's Taco with Cheese

7. Mariscos German, San Diego: Fish

6. El Real Tex-Mex Café, Houston: Chicken Puffy Taco

5. Torchy’s Tacos, Various Texas Locations: Trailer Park Taco

4. The Shed, Santa Fe, N.M.: Chicken with Green Chile

3. La Paz, Maxwell Street Market, Chicago: "Quesadilla"

2. La Taquería, San Francisco: Carnitas

1. Tacodeli, Austin: El Conquistador

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