Does your idea of culinary bliss involve charred meat enveloped in a pillowy tortilla? If so, consider this your roadmap to heaven. Your Southern California journey begins at a stellar food truck in the heart of Los Angeles and snakes down the coast, ending with Tijuana-style tacos just a few miles from the border. Along the way, you will sample handheld delights from famous chefs who have reimagined the form as well as local heroes serving up hot pockets clásico. Start hungry. 

Stop one: Ricky’s Fish Tacos 

Some of the best tacos in the country—think white fish fried to a golden perfection—sit under an overpass in the ultra-hip Los Feliz neighborhood near Griffith Park. Before you go, check @RickysFishTacos on Twitter, as the truck moves occasionally. Distance to next stop: 19 miles  

José Mandojana

Stop two: Tito’s Tacos

Head west to Culver City for an Angelino institution dating back to 1957. Forget everything you know about hard-shelled tacos; Tito’s version will make you a crunchy convert. Next stop: 26 miles

 

José Mandojana

Stop three: El Torazo Mexican Food

Stick to the classics at this family-run eatery in Long Beach: Try the spicy chorizo or barbacoa. If you have extra room, order the carne asada fries. Next stop: 17 miles

Stop four: Taco María   

Among the high-end boutiques of Costa Mesa’s South Coast Collection, you’ll find Taco María’s inspired gems like black cod with scallion aioli and kumquats. The mad taco scientist? Carlos Salgado, a two-time James Beard semifinalist for Best Chef. Next stop: 56 miles 

Stop five: Miramar Fish Tacos and Beer

Thanks to a long stretch through protected coastline, you’ll have time to work up an appetite. Break that fast with the classic San Diego County pairing given in the name of this Oceanside spot. Next stop: 26 miles 

Stop six: Roberto’s Mexican Food

Rolled tacos with guacamole—crispy, a bit greasy, covered in the glorious green stuff—are a San Diego County staple. The patio at the Del Mar Roberto’s is the perfect place to try this treat—ideally followed by a hike at nearby Torrey Pines State Natural ReserveNext stop: 17 miles 

Stop seven: Lucha Libre

Enjoy punchy personality alongside out-of-the-box tacos like the Surf & Turf. Found in San Diego’s Mission Hills, this restaurant gives you a discount if you show up wearing a Mexican wrestling mask. Next stop: 11 miles

Stop eight: Tacos El Gordo 

End your tasting tour with authentic eats close to the Mexican border (there are three California locations in south San Diego County, including two in Chula Vista). The adobada (spicy pork) is a life-changer. Get one for your final supper—and two more for dessert.