Today is National Taco Day. (We know, we know—on a Wednesday?! Someone’s getting fired!) While there’s no shortage of taquerias and restaurants to choose from in Las Vegas, we’re cutting through the clutter of corporate chains and mediocrity to help you find only the juiciest of al pastor and freshest of fish tacos. Here are seven of our favorite places for you to try today, tomorrow and, heck, any day.
Tacos El Gordo
Let’s get the most obvious out of the way: Tacos El Gordo is the spot for a late night bite. Pop in to its Strip or Downtown locations after a night on the town and you’ll see lines that rival Disneyland’s with masses eagerly waiting for some of the best al pastor you’ll find in Las Vegas—served with slices of pineapples for a perfect balance of sweet and savory. In addition to their street tacos, El Gordo is also a popular destination for mulas (two soft tortillas with melted cheese and meat of your choice, guac and pico sandwiched in the middle) and vampiros (like mulas but with a crispy, tostada-style fried tortillas). For an added bonus: while in line, eavesdrop on the uninitiated as they ask what lengua (tongue), buche (pork stomach) and tripas (beef intestines) are; their facial expressions are priceless. Multiple locations, tacoselgordobc.com.
When it comes to tacos, size matters and Los Tacos’ offerings will make your jaws do some extra work. Their homestyle tacos can come loaded with sour cream, pico, guac and beans for $3 extra, which is more than worth it. Get two tacos and you’ll be set for the day. Insider tip: you can order a side of house-made arroz y frijoles de olla for $2—it tastes just like mom makes! Two locations, lostacoslv.com.
Libre Mexican Cantina
Located just inside Red Rock Casino Resort, Libre makes a trek to Summerlin more than worth it with a full bar, patio dining, lunch specials and a daily happy hour (and a reverse happy hour on Friday and Saturday nights). For the adventurous, try the Crispy Dynamite Shrimp Tacos. And for those with huge appetites, come on Tuesdays where $24 gets you all you can eat and drink. Can’t make it to Summerlin? Head to Borracha Mexican Cantina, Libre’s sister site inside Green Valley Ranch in Henderson, which boasts an equally exceptional menu and same great deals. 11011 W. Charleston Blvd. at Red Rock Casino, librelasvegas.com.
Taco y Taco Mexican Eatery
Taco y Taco is, as its name suggests, all about tacos, and the restaurant makes them exceptionally well. There’s no shortage of options for carnivores, with everything from carne asada to adobada, but their Soyrizo is what’s earned them favor on both sides of the food aisle. Made with a savory soy-based chorizo alternative, it has the same flavor and texture of its pork counterpart so vegans can enjoy them, too. Two locations, facebook.com/tacotacome.
Bajamar Seafood and Tacos
A newcomer on the scene, Bajamar brings ocean fresh flavor to the far north end of the Strip. Don’t let its minimal beach decor fool you—the food is legit. The menu focuses mainly on tacos and tostadas, with each item loaded with lightly battered rockfish, shrimp sauteed in chili and uncooked, ceviche-style fare. 1615 S Las Vegas Blvd., 702-331-4266.
Owned by chef Robert Solano, who ran the kitchen at Mundo, Bomb Tacos lives up to its name. We can’t stress that last part enough. There are no gimmicks, just tacos rich with flavor, with meats grilled to perfection and topped with fresh, housemade sauces. And they’ve got everyone covered with not only the traditional meats but seafood, vegetarian and vegan offerings. 3655 S. Durango Dr., Ste. 27, 702-262-0141.
Pancho’s Vegan Tacos
While some restaurateurs are busy competing over the best way to season their meaty fillings, Pancho’s stands alone with their delightfully delicious vegan offerings. Panchos is one of the few that gets it right. The vegan Mexican eatery uses seitan for its asada, pastor and chorizo offerings and a soy base (which is also gluten-free) for it’s “chicken”. Stop by on Taco Tuesday for three tacos and a drink only $4.25. 4865 S Pecos Rd Ste 5 Las Vegas, NV 89121 panchovegago.com.