After an epic day-long taco brawl on 24th Street in the Mission, we were stuffed. With all the personalities and tacos involved, everyone was surprised to have a runaway, unanimous winner: Taqueria Vallarta (on 24th between Treat and Harrison).

How could one shop dominate the competition on a street covered with taquerias? Because they have a secret weapon: a standalone circular taco grill just inside the door. The grill is designed to make the perfect taco by cooking the meats around the outside and crisping the tortillas in the middle.

Vallarta stocks some rare and especially flavorful meats like Buche (pork neck) and Suadero (tender beef). Trust us, they’re definitely worth a try in addition to the regular favorites, like Carne Asada, Pollo Asado, and Carnitas. Make sure to request sauteed onions with your order; they’re free and happen to be delicious. Even better, Vallarta’s tacos won’t break the bank: at $1.50 a piece, they’re also some of the cheapest in the Mission.

Tacos

Vallarta gives you free reign of the fixins bar, which includes chopped onion, cilantro, radishes, lime wedges, and three kinds of salsa. Their set-up is great for people who like to mix and match toppings or avoid some altogether (like onions). Once your plate is loaded with tacos, grab space at one of the large tables, and dig in.

One more thing: there’s often a woman in the front of the seating area selling elote, a Mexican street food classic. It’s corn on the cob that’s slathered in mayo, rolled in cotija cheese, sprinkled with chili powder, and spritzed with lime juice. Though that might sound strange, the flavor is the perfect combination of savory, salty, spicy, and tart.

Honorable taco brawl mentions go to Taqueria San Francisco, La Palma Mexicatessen, and La Espiga de Oro.

  • La Palma got high marks for the flavor of their house-made tortillas, but the tortillas were a little too thick for tacos, and the meats didn’t quite measure up.
  • At Taqueria San Francisco, the tacos were filled to the max, but their flavor was a little lacking – partly because the salsas weren’t spicy enough.
  • At La Espiga, the overall flavor was good, but the tortillas ran dry and fell apart, while the meats were a little too tough.

If you’re a big fan of Taqueria Vallarta or think there’s a better place on 24th Street, post your thoughts in the comments. If you want tacos in your office or a taco truck parked right outside, contact us here.