Los Angeles. The city where dreams come true, memories are made, and of course—the most mouthwatering tacos are eaten. As an LA raised girl, my pallet consistently needs to be satisfied by authentic, fresh tacos. It’s fabulous knowing I’m not the only one, because there is a reason you’ll see the word “tacos” as a default search term on Yelp.

Now, as a college student, I’ve realized that I, along with buying textbooks, paying for tuition, and eating my tacos, need budget-friendly, yet drool-worthy tacos to satisfy my cravings. I decided to spend the day in LA tasting and researching the best taco shops, and compiled the top five college budget-friendly places to make those taco runs so much more affordable and, of course, tastier.

1. Sky’s Gourmet Tacos — Cheesy Potato Taco

sandwich, slaw
Saaima Bholat

The day started off with the award-winning Sky’s Gourmet Taco stop. Deciding to be daring and vegetarian, I took a chance with Sky’s famous Cheesy Potato taco. Boy, was that the most satisfying vegetarian taco I’ve had!

Each bite was filled with a marinated warm, crispy potato that complemented the fresh tomato salsa, all while bundled into a tasty homemade corn tortilla. I would never opt to eat a potato taco, but it was the best four dollars I ever spent!

As Yelp says, “Vegetarians go nuts for this spot.” Sky’s Tacos cater to not only meat-eaters and seafood-lovers, but has an extensive vegetarian/vegan menu to accommodate our veggie fans too. When it comes to these tacos, the sky is the limit.

2. Best Fish Tacos in Ensenada - Fish Taco

meat, chicken, vegetable, salad, lettuce, beef
Saaima Bholat

If you’re into the DIY (Do It Yourself) option and spending $2 on a taco like myself, this is definitely the place for you. Best Fish Tacos in Ensenada had me drooling as soon as I saw the colorful salsa bar.

From Avocado to Mango, to even Pineapple Salsa, it was just impossible to pick one. So, naturally, I ate them all. Rich with a spicy flavor profile, and very fulfilling, this fish taco hit the spot.

True to its name, this is the best fish taco in Ensenada—and in my opinion, Los Angeles, too.

3. Guisados - Taco Meat Sampler 

tacos, sauce, tomato, cheese, meat, bread, chicken
Saaima Bholat

Looking for a homemade and authentic Mexican-style taco? Then this famous taco joint must be added to your list. “Guisados” is directly defined as “stew” in Spanish, and it holds a special meaning to the restaurant.

The tacos are cooked with stewed meat, simmered and braised with several strong spices and the ultimate ingredient—love. The taco sampler option is perfect for those who want to try a variety of tacos, or you can go with the single taco priced at $2.75.

If you're out and about with a sudden urge for mom’s cooking, Guisados tacos will make you feel right at home.

4. Tacos Tumbras a Tomas - Carne Asada Taco

Bustling with employees on lunch breaks, post class students, and the regular loyal customers, Tacos Tumbras a Tomas is located at the Grand Central Market in Downtown LA.

The large portions are overflowing with meat, and the Carne Asada taco will leave you dreaming of tacos for days. One taco is almost equivalent to three normal-sized tacos, making this joint quite the steal. Tender and caramelized with all the perfect seasonings, I recommend the Carne Asada taco.

Bring your appetites, because these tacos will help you forget that you were ever hungry.

5. Ricky’s Fish TacosFish and Shrimp Tacos

If I could match the definition and picture of a seafood taco with the dictionary’s, Ricky’s taco would be the one. Classic and simple, the shrimp and fish tacos give the word “impeccable” a run for its money.

Fried to perfection, the seafood is coated with a crispy batter layer paired with a soft, flaky inside that left me wanting more… and more. At $3.00 a taco, I left this famous food truck thoroughly satisfied.

Here’s to my dictionary definition of a fish or shrimp taco.

So there you have it. The next time you find yourself in LA craving some exceptional tacos, check out this guide to the top five college budget-friendly tacos spots. Happy Taco eating!