Joy has made it to Westwood with the opening of Tacos 1986. Since their debut on the streets of Hollywood, Tacos 1986 has become quite the social media sensation, thanks in part to co-owner Jorge Alvarez-Tostado aka “Joy,” whose playful antics make watching your food being made part of the experience. Tostado, along with co-owner Victor Delgado, have seen their tacos covered in Food and Wine, with their hongos (mushroom) taco making the LA Times 15 Best Dishes of 2019.
Tacos 1986 takes over the spot formerly occupied by Simple Things. Their menu is limited to chicken, carne asada, pork adobada and hongos in tacos, quesadillas, mulitas or vampiros. Prices range from $3.25 for a taco to $5 for the vampiros. You can order “con todo” – which will give you onions, cilantro, salsa and even guacamole for no extra charge. Tortillas are constantly being freshly made.
The space is tiny, with a small counter inside and a few tables outside where you can stand and eat. You place your order at the register, and they call your name when it’s ready.
The kitchen is small and gets pretty smoky. With the limited dining space, you can also get your order packed to go. There’s a salsa bar, with limes, radishes and cucumbers, as well.
The chicken and carne asada are fairly typical – I can’t say that they are any better here than at other taquerias. I tried a carne aside mulita, which was like having a taco with an extra tortilla on top. It lacked the crispy cheese, which I think was an oversight. The carne asada needed a squirt of lime and a dab a salsa to give it a bit more life.
The adobada, marinated pork cooked on a vertical rotisserie spot, is the best of the meat choices, especially with those charred bits. Order it “con todo” and you don’t really need the salsas.
The best filling is definitely the hongos (mushrooms), cooked with salsa mocha, slightly spicy and meaty. I like them as is in taco format, though the quesadilla will add a bit of cheese (no extra tortilla on the other side, though). At $3.25 each, this taco is easily the cheapest eat on the LA Times’ 15 Best Dishes.
Order the vampiros (above left), and you’ll get a something more like a tostada with a crispy tortilla on the top and bottom.
Joy was on his way out when we were waiting in line, so no show, though he did thank everyone for coming. (If you want to see him in action, Smorgasburg LA is your best bet.) Westwood was in dire need of reasonably priced non-chain Mexican food. Glad to see that Tacos 1986 is here in 2020 to fill that gap.
Location – 10874 Kinross Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90024
Website – https://www.tacos1986.com
Kid’s Menu – No
Vegetarian/Vegan Friendly – Yes
Gluten-Free Options – Yes