10 Great Tacos in Orange County

8. Tacos de Trompa at Tacos y Carnitas Sahuayo

Photo by Professor Salt

Pig-snout tacos!!! More soon...

165 E. Pomona, SanTana

7. Tripas Tacos from Alebrije's

Take it, Shuji!

Like most everything at Alebrije's, your order will come with strips of grilled nopales, grilled onions, and a grilled jalapeno. How meta: nibble on some sweet, vegetal roughage to help out your own intestines while you eat some crisp-grilled chitlins.

Address at the end of this post!

6. Hard-Shelled Taco at Avanti Cafe
Thumbnail image for avanticafetaco.JPG

They start by forming shells upon order, meaning it's not a hard, crunchy, bland thing you bite into but soft, still keeping a masa flavor, immediately redeeming the taco shell after decades of Taco Bell and Old El Paso insults. This is a vegetarian restaurant, after all, so potatoes go inside along with lettuce dressed in a sesame-seed dressing. In go red onions and a trio of hot sauces: mango-habanero salsa, zhug, and some other red thing that tastes of chipotle and has one of Avanti's strange-ass product names. Avanti has many great meals, but I always find myself ordering these when I visit, only because they're so extraordinary--a great, gabacho-made hard-shelled taco? We Mexicans might as well finally cede that throne to Americans ...

259 E. 17th St., Costa Mesa, (949) 548-2224; www.avantinatural.com.

5. Tacos de Rajas con Queso at Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen

Head Chef Gabbi Patrick in her element...

It is a deceptively simple taco--pasilla instead of jalapeños, milky Oaxacan quesillo instead of Monterey Jack, with a sprinkle of cotija thrown in. The rajas melt into a glorious goop, held together by a thick corn tortilla patted out only minutes before. Gabbi's sells other tacos, but this is the only one that warrants the hefty price, because they're huge, delicious, and so much better than most carne asada chingaderas in the world.

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