North Texas isn’t known for its burritos. The region has excellent tacos, but usually when I think of burritos, I think of West Texas. The Permian Basin and El Paso each have their own distinct burrito style—the former is as fat as a dachshund and packed with a daunting number of ingredients, while the latter is smaller and usually has only one filling. The regions share an affinity for the luscious, cheese-filled, chile relleno burrito. Happily for those of us who don’t live out west, these options are starting to spread to other parts of the state. Some of the best are at Taqueria Los Angeles in Plano. Its burritos are rolled-tortilla gold.
From afar, the restaurant looks like any other nondescript strip-mall joint. But as you get closer, it becomes clear that this place is decidedly quirky. On one front window, a sticker features the Pokémon character Charmander dressed as a cholo, a member of an urban Mexican American subculture whose fashion is characterized by pressed long-sleeve shirts buttoned only at the top and high white socks. This orange baby dragon is decked out in a plaid Pendleton shirt and a gold chain. A blue bandanna (bandannas are another cholo favorite) is tied toward the end of his flame-tipped tail. In another front window, things get weirder: the glass is plastered with a large image of the Shiba Inu mascot that represents the cryptocurrency Dogecoin. It includes the goofy lingo on the Dogecoin token: “rich very currency wow much coin how money so crypto plz mine.”
Inside, the decor is a bit more standard. There are portraits of Mexican and Tejano icons, including Selena and the comedian Cantinflas. There was one more surprise in store, however: our food was delivered via an autonomous robot cart, a sort of BurritoBot 3000, if you will. The word “cute” might or might not have been uttered.
Together, the pop culture accents and forward-looking tech impressed us—but the food, three giant burritos, left us floored. Had we departed Plano and stumbled into an adjacent psychedelic Mexi-futurism dimension?
Angel Monroy, his mother Maria, and Angel’s then-girlfriend Katherine Lopez opened Taqueria Los Angeles in 2014. Despite the restaurant’s name, burritos, not tacos, are the stars of the menu. “We sell a lot of tacos, but I never promote tacos,” says Angel Monroy. “I just feel like our burritos are way better. And when you try them, you’re going to be like, ‘Holy smokes.’” He’s right.
We ordered three. The loaded burrito accounts for at least four hundred orders weekly, according to Monroy. It’s a kicking, addictive assembly of spicy potato cubes and carne asada (though you can swap that out for several pork, beef, or chicken options, as well as shrimp and green chiles). The beans, cheese, and chunky guacamole add texture with rich and salty flavors. The guacamole doesn’t cut the heat of the potatoes, but it does make for sticky fingers; you’ll need a pile of napkins.
I also enjoyed the Mega, which resembles a familiar California-style burrito. It’s a tasty wrap packed with rice, beans, french fries, cheese, sour cream, and guacamole. My favorite, though, was the chile relleno burrito. It’s slightly smaller, with a creamy Monterey Jack–stuffed green chile pepper surrounded by rice, beans, and guacamole. A thin but strong flour tortilla holds everything together. “They’re hugely popular,” says Monroy, who reports that he doles out about three hundred of these per week. Everything we tasted was a joy to share. And I do recommend that you share, or at least be prepared to save some for a later meal.
The Plano joint is an open secret of sorts. Taqueria Los Angeles didn’t gain much visibility until March 2019, thanks in part to a hard push via its Instagram account. Since then, it’s been on an upward trajectory with some reimagining of the business. The pandemic forced Monroy, who also owns a marketing and logistics company, to trim the menu and eliminate many of the platters. He removed most of the tables from the dining room and introduced myriad taco and drink specials. That’s when he got the idea for the delivery robot. It was meant to streamline operations, not to replace employees. His staff actually asked him to keep it around. “It just makes it easier for everybody at work,” Monroy says. He might even add more in the future.
While many other restaurants struggled to stay solvent during the pandemic, Taqueria Los Angeles saw a sustained increase in sales. People want burritos when times are tough, as they do any other type of taco, it seems. “COVID has been great for us,” says Monroy. He’s not planning on returning to full table service and likes the open space in the restaurant. Takeout and quick sit-down meals account for a large portion of the business. The extra space allows for social distancing when ordering at the walk-up counter and while waiting for to-go orders to be ready. At the counter, you can impulsively purchase a hanging restaurant-branded rearview mirror tchotchke. CBD products are also on offer. Monroy is a man of many revenue streams, business opportunities, and mammoth burritos.
We passed on the knickknacks. If you’re interested, though, you can pay with cryptocurrency, as noted on the front window. Monroy invests heavily in Dogecoin and other digital money markets, including the well-known Bitcoin: “I love it and think if I love it, we should accept it here.” He says customers often get excited when they learn the payment option is available, and even some who weren’t previously familiar with crypto use it the next time they order. However you want to pay for your burrito, you’ll doubtlessly be impressed with it and with Taqueria Los Angeles.
Taqueria Los Angeles
1424 Jupiter Road, Suite 203, Plano
Hours: Sunday to Thursday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.