Taqueria Emanuel is currently my favorite taco shop. Not only is the food delicious and cheap (tacos are just $1, and a burrito with the works is only $5), the service is excellent as well. They take the time to make sure they have your order just right, no matter how convoluted it may be. The restaurant is very small, but it's also very clean and brightly colored. If you want to dine in, there are a few tightly packed tables. For a tiny taco shop, the menu is quite extensive--you can order quesadillas, burritos, enchiladas, and more.
Carne asada tacos
I recommend the carne asada, al pastor, and carnitas tacos, all of which are very moist and flavorful. The chicken, while good quality meat, is too dry. Like all tacos, these come on a double corn torilla and are topped with onions, cilantro, and salsa. If you prefer flour tortillas, you can substitute them for a few cents extra. At the salsa bar, you can add pico de gallo and pick up as many containers of pinto beans, salsa, and spicy carrots as you like. By the time you finish filling containers of salsa, your food will be ready--the meat is cooked ahead of time, but it all still tastes very fresh.
Taqueria Emanuel offers four kinds of salsa: a creamy green salsa, which is good for moistening a chicken taco but otherwise doesn't taste like much; a spicy green tomatillo salsa whose true heat reveals itself in the aftertaste; the same smokey, hot red salsa that comes on the tacos; and a mild version of the red salsa. If you love salsa like I do, you'll get more flavor by dipping your taco into the salsa before each bite. If you pour it onto the taco, a lot of the salsa soaks into the tortilla and the flavor isn't as strong.
Since the asada burrito uses the same meat as the asada tacos, it was very flavorful as well. We also tried the horchata. I liked it because it was neither too cinnamony nor too sweet, but some might find it to be on the watery side. It all depends on your taste.
6350 Van Nuys Blvd.
Van Nuys, CA 91401