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Tasty, portable, and oh-so trendy, tacos are pretty much the ultimate cheap eats. And we know where to find the good stuff, all over these great United States. These are the best tacos in America, in no particular order.

L’patron — Chicago, IL

Yes, this foodie paradise is known for flashier establishments like Antique Taco and Big Star. But L’Patron is not only incredibly cheap, but it also serves up some of the city’s best wrapped-in-a-tortilla goodness. Come for the chorizo and lomo encebollado (ribeye and onion) tacos, stay for the creamy horchata. And leave with a full wallet—the tacos here will only set you back $2–2.50.

Mas Tacos Por Favor — Nashville, TN

The name of no-frills Mas Tacos Por Favor sums it up pretty well (it’s what you’ll be asking for, get it?). And for about $3 each, you can likely afford to tuck into another pulled pork or vegetarian-friendly quinoa and sweet potato taco, guilt-free. Add on the elotes and sweet plantains and you’ve got a feast fit for a budgeting king.

Torchy's inAustin

Torchy’s in Austin | Flickr CC: Charlie Vinz

 Torchy’s — Austin, TX

If it’s good enough for President Obama, it just might be good enough for you. Get your taco fix any time of day at Austin staple Torchy’s, which will help you start the morning right with some pretty tasty breakfast tacos. After that, you can sate your taco-fueled appetite with fried avocado, blackened salmon and jerk chicken tacos, each of which run anywhere from $3.50 to $4.75. So yes, they’re a touch pricy, but they’re oh-so worth it. Consider it an investment — these are widely touted as the best tacos in America.

Colonia Tacos Guisados — Los Angeles, CA

At just $2.50 per taco, not only is this place super affordable by any city’s standards—never mind Los Angeles’—it’s also so notably good. Besides the meaty barbacoa, lengua (that’s beef tongue), and duck carnitas, this menu boasts a whole host of vegan and vegetarian handhelds. The huitlacoche, for example, is stuffed with mushrooms, cilantro and salsa verde, and the fried cauliflower comes topped with corn, salsa Veracruz and a vinaigrette.

Automatic Taco | Photo courtesy of Nick Thomas; best tacos in America

Automatic Taco | Photo courtesy of Nick Thomas

Automatic Taco Truck — Greenville, SC

And here we have some seriously gourmet tacos, served up courtesy of Greenville’s Automatic Taco Truck. The mahi mahi ($5) comes with lemongrass slaw and avocado; the hot chicken ($4) is topped with housemade pickles and cool crema, and the indulgent pork belly ($4) is perfectly paired with kimchi slaw, cashews and green onion. Their Twitter just became your newbest friend—check early and often for location updates.

Pico Taqueria — Chincoteague Island, VA

The folks at Chincoteague Island’s Pico Taqueria are united by a common idea—that you can put anything on a taco. And they’ve wisely settled on local cornmeal fried oysters, crispy cauliflower and blackened chicken (all $4 each). Save some room for the dessert nachos, piled high with berries, homemade chocolate sauce and whipped cream.

Gabo's Grill

Gabo’s Grill | Flickr CC: Steve

Garbo’s Grill — Key West, FL

‘Cheap’ and ‘Key West’ don’t really seem to go together. But thank the heavens for the Garbo’s Grill food cart, where you can pick up a quick, seriously tasty meal for about $11—which is dirt-cheap by the island’s usual standard. Enjoy your fresh fish, shrimp and Korean bulgogi tacos beneath the swaying palms and soak up that beautiful sun.

Tienda Los Gemelos — Madison, WI

Madison, Wisconsin is probably not the first place that comes to mind when you think of tacos. But this restaurant will absolutely change your attitude with its super-stuffed steak, carnitas and chicken tacos ($2 each). If you have any room left, finish your meal with a traditional Mexican pastry or six.


Minero | Photo courtesy of Andrew Celbulka

Minero — Atlanta, GA

And here we have some more gourmet-type tacos: Classics like al pastor are served alongside fried catfish with green tomato tartar, and pork carnitas with confit and chicharron ($4 each). But don’t worry, this place can still get down and dirty, dessert style. Grab yourself a bag of churros and go crazy.

El Taquito Coconut Grove — Miami, FL

You can enjoy an entire, authentic Mexican meal at this no-nonsense taqueria for about $7, and rest easy that they’re just about the best tacos in Miami. Pork and beef take center stage—El Taquito is known for its al pastor, but the skirt steak and carnitas are also not to be missed ($2–$2.50 each). If you’re hungover, definitely go for the fried tacos, which will only set you back $6 for three crispy little delights.

Taceaux Loceaux Food Truck

Taceaux Loceaux Food Truck | Flickr CC: Infrogmation

Taceaux Loceaux Food Truck — New Orleans, LA

The Big Easy may not be known for its tacos, but this food truck may be about to change all that. Therotating menu includes highlights like Texas brisket, Seoul-Man Chicken (get it?), wild-caught gulf shrimp and potato poblano hash ($6–9 for two tacos). Pair ‘em with some crispy, creamy avocado fries and then maybe take a nap. Or keep drinking. Whatever you prefer.

Mi mero mole — Portland, OR

You really only need to know one thing about this restaurant: Taco Tuesday features an all-you-can-eat special for just $14.75 (the current record is 14). Take that record to task with their pork adobo, lamb mole negro, and vegan butternut squash mole poblano tacos ($3–4 each, if you’re ordering a la carte). Their cocktails aren’t going to put much of a dent in your wallet, either—cool off with a $6 tamarind or habanero margarita, or a $5 michelada.

Los Tacos No.1 | Photo courtesy of Los Tacos No.1; best tacos in America

Los Tacos No.1 | Photo courtesy of Los Tacos No.1

Los Tacos No. 1 — New York, NY

So here’s something interesting: You can get an entire meal, in New York, for $10 or less—and no, we’re not recommending a hot dog vendor here. Enter Los Tacos No. 1, a stellar taco stand tucked away in the famed Chelsea Market. Among the authentic Baja menu items are carne asada ($3.75), adobada (marinated pork; $3.50) and nopal (grilled cactus $3.25) tacos. Wash it down with an agua fresca and get back to shopping in a tasty flash.

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Tagged: California, Cheap Tips, Florida, Food & drink, L.A., New York City, Uncategorized

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