The best tacos 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 recently published our third attempt at ranking the country’s top tacos, 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. There are some amazing tacos served around the country and, as it turns out, the second-best can be found in San Francisco.
When it comes to leaders of a culinary genre, there are few restaurants in America with greater gravitas for their respective focus than San Francisco’s La Taqueria has for tacos. That gives it, and its tacos (carnitas among them, quite arguably the best), quite a heavy reputation to live up to. La Taqueria, just one of the Mission’s many casual Mexican joints, does Mexican the way they should be done: fresh. As if the amazing rice-free burritos weren’t enough, there are the tacos. To prepare the carnitas, chef/owner Miguel Jara slow-cooks chunks of pork shoulder in cauldrons of bubbling lard until tender, then roasts it until it’s crispy. When it's tucked into a double layer of corn tortillas and topped with pinto beans, onions, and pico de gallo (and cheese and avocado if you choose).
The tacos are so good, in fact, they were voted to the #2 spot on our national list, beating out the bistex adobado taco at Tacolicious (#37) and the al pastor taco at Taquería Vallarta (#54), which means the carnitas taco at La Taqueria serves the best taco in San Francisco, the best in the state of California, and the second-best taco in America.