Paco’s Tacos: The ultimate Mexican comfort food


Photo credit: Anna Brodsky

A “Super Mex” burrito sits on a table. This enormous creation is prepared with fresh tortillas, homemade green sauce, chicken, lettuce, salsa, and cheese.

When dining in Los Angeles, one thing is certain — there’s no shortage of Mexican food. Maybe it’s the prevalence of immigrants in our city, or maybe we’re just obsessed with burritos. But when it comes to make the call about which spot is best to sit down, relax and enjoy a delicious meal with friends or family, the answer has always been obvious to me: Paco’s Tacos.

Now, I’m not interested in getting into whether Paco’s is ‘authentic’ Mexican or ‘California’ Mexican. And I’m only judging relatively cheap options here because high-end Mexican has a completely different flavor profile. But when it comes to affordable, tasty food, Paco’s stands out from the crowd.

From the moment you walk into Paco’s, a cheerfully decorated waiting area awaits, bedecked with whatever decorations are appropriate for the closest holiday. Get used to this waiting area, because, at pretty much any time of day, any day of the week, you’ll end up spending some time here. Customers tend to cycle through tables pretty fast, so the wait is usually kept manageable, but beware of going on weekend nights — you’ll often end up waiting an hour or more for a table.

As you make your way into the dining room, smile at the abuelitas making fresh tortillas in the corner — once you taste their creations, you won’t regret it.

Settle into the comfortable leather seats and take the time to order an horchata as you peruse the menu. This delicious drink is made with rice milk and cinnamon and honestly tastes more like a dessert than a beverage. Now comes the most difficult moment of the meal — deciding what to order.

As far as food goes, it’s really impossible to go wrong with the combination plates. These combine two Mexican ‘fan favorites’ (think tacos, enchiladas and chiles rellenos) with rice, beans and your choice of corn or flour tortillas. When I eat here, I usually share one of these plates — they’re enormous! Other incredible options include the “Super Mex,” a huge (and I do mean huge) burrito drenched in homemade green sauce and filled with shredded beef, beans, cheese, and lettuce. The Enchiladas Del Mar are perfect if you’re in the mood for seafood.

Once you’ve paid for your meal, go ahead and try to get out of your chair. Due to the ridiculous quantity of food you’ve just consumed, it may be hard, but I’m sure that there’s a hungry customer waiting eagerly for your table.

In all, Paco’s is not for the faint of heart — or for those trying to count calories. At the end of the day, though, it delivers exactly what Mexican food should: a delicious, comforting meal that is as much a social experience as it is a culinary one.

Paco’s Tacos operates from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 10:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. on Sunday. It is located at 4141 S Centinela Ave, Los Angeles, CA, 90066. Prices are low to moderate; large dishes range from $10.00 to $17.00.