downtown los angeles, historic core
comments 17

Downtown LA’s Cutest Taco Shack Opens on Olive Street

Chicas Tacos has replaced Danny's Tacos on Olive Street helping to enliven the desolate block

One of the biggest disappoints I still have with Carmel’s 8th/Grand project is they didn’t activate the Olive Street side of the mixed-use building with any retail space. Currently the project facing Olive is comprised mostly of a blank wall and a portion of glass windows set aside for the building’s residential fitness center. I really wish that Whole Foods was designed with at least some kind of back entrance that would address the street a bit better instead of focusing all its attention on Grand Ave. In any case, that’s why I am so excited that Chicas Tacos is opening on Olive Street that will help fill in the void created by 8th/Grand.

The first thing I want to say about Chicas Tacos is just how cute it is! It really took me by surprise when I saw it for the first time yesterday. I thought to myself, “How could I have missed this one?” Well, because currently there’s not much reason to walk up Olive Street for those aforementioned reasons, that’s why. What was once a no frills Danny’s Tacos shack, which I’m sure had delicious tacos as well, has been completely transformed into something visually spectacular that is now bright and colorful and adorned by an eye-catching neon sign set atop the diminutive 700 square foot restaurant.

Local DTLA developer, BLVD Hospitality, is behind this new venture. Their goal is to create a modern Mexican dining experience — something you might bump into while wandering the trendy neighborhoods of La Condesa or La Roma in Mexico City — right here in central Downtown LA.

According to Nico Rusconi, one of the co-founders of Chicas Tacos, it all started with a vintage metallic Airstream that he and his business partners acquired a few years ago. The initial plan was to find a place in the Arts District and convert the Airstream into a taco shop. But due to various code issues and complexities, that plan never hatched out. An opportunity to take over Danny’s Tacos, and to execute their vision for Chicas Tacos, came up when the business came up for sale. The Airstream now sits across the driveway from Chicas Tacos as the main centerpiece in the outdoor dining area.

Now, just days before their soft opening on May 30 (grand opening in mid-June), Chicas Tacos is starting to really create a buzz in the neighborhood as word begins to spread. Just wait until you try the tacos, which includes a simple and delicious menu of chicken, beef, fish, and veggie tacos. For me, the star of the show is really getting the beef taco “Mama’s style.” Although they are a bit pricey at $5 a taco (damn you inflation), I still think it’s a valuable addition to this block in Downtown LA, which desperately needs a strong destination to bring some life onto the street.

I believe in a balance of various businesses for our urban center, and I’m glad they decided to open here instead of the Arts District, which I think would have been lost in the “indie homogeneity.” Here on the border of the Financial District, it can really stand out and shine.

For more info, including updated hours, visit Chicas Tacos online.

Chicas Tacos' eye-catching facade has enlivened the desolate block along Olive Street

Chicas Tacos’ eye-catching facade has enlivened the desolate block along Olive Street

What was once a muted taco shop has been transformed into a bright and colorful taco destination

What was once a muted taco shop has been transformed into a bright and colorful taco destination

Kahlo-esque colors such as robin’s egg blue and bright pink alongside custom vinyl printed floors and brass metal elements result in a vibrant and welcoming ambiance

Original stained glass and Kahlo-esque colors such as robin’s egg blue and bright pink alongside custom vinyl printed floors and brass metal elements result in a vibrant and welcoming ambiance

The cozy ambiance is meant to provide guests the feeling of dining in Carmela’s home, the personality who ambassadors the Chicas Tacos brand

The cozy ambiance is meant to provide guests the feeling of dining in Carmela’s home, the personality who ambassadors the Chicas Tacos brand

The kitchen tiles have been imported from Mexico

The kitchen tiles have been imported from Mexico

Chicas Tacos serves a simple and delicious menu of chicken, fish, beef, and veggie tacos

Chicas Tacos serves a simple and delicious menu of chicken, fish, beef, and veggie tacos

Outdoor diners sit next to the vintage metallic Airstream that spawned the idea for Chicas Tacos

Outdoor diners sit next to the vintage metallic Airstream that spawned the idea for Chicas Tacos

Chicas Tacos menu

Chicas Tacos menu

Nico Rusconi and his business partners decided to jump on the opportunity to open Chicas Tacos here in central Downtown LA

Nico Rusconi and his business partners decided to jump on the opportunity to open Chicas Tacos here in central Downtown LA

17 Comments

  1. bob devin jones says

    Good morning,
    It is another Great Day in DTLA!,
    any residential, cultural or commercial business opening in the Central District is a splendid opportunity for celebration. Ten to 15 years ago the level and diversity of activity was almost unimaginable. But some someones’ envisioned it, and now we have Staples, Disney, Broad, and Metro to the Sea. We now have that little bakery tucked in side an office building on Grand Ave with sugar in the name, also the Emerson, One Santa Fe, Freehand, Nomad, and a deliciously revitalized Grand Central Market. And as you have chronicled (brilliantly) in these post Mr. Young 100’s of other reanimations in DTLA, with dozens more to come, Proper, Ocean Wide, Wilshire Grand. In years to come nearly every block in the Central Business District will in some new, decidedly LA urban context be revitalized and “culturalized”; this is just the beginning. I for one can not wait to see it unfold.

  2. Nick says

    Am I the only one ticked off every time the word desolate is used to describe where we all live? Seriously. Read that first sentence, checked out.

  3. Lawrence says

    Maybe because that block has been pretty desolate for a while? There are plenty of vibrant pockets in DTLA but this stretch of Olive hasn’t been one of them. Even when operational, the jewelry building at 7th and Olive shut it’s doors at 5 and never cared that it’s surrounding sidewalks reeked of piss. The building next to it has some finally viable businesses but the structure next to it is in a state of neglect and has no street facing commercial activity. It wasn’t until Dunkin came in that you even had some light on the next corner at 8th.

    • Jake says

      Exactly. Especially when passing people using the stairwell exit beside H&R Block to drop duce in. I’ve lived downtown for 8 years now would love alittle attention to Olive other than avoiding it.

  4. Paul wright says

    No matter what improvements are made people seem to always find a reason to complain. Always. This is great news people.

  5. LA La Land says

    Improvement for sure. I remember walking this stretch of sidewalk on Olive between 7th and 8th last June and it was pretty bad (several vagrants, bad odor, busted up and dirty sidewalk, and dark). Lately as I have walked and driven by, it is easy to see a change for the better. This cool little joint did a great job with the space, especially the outdoor areas. Slightly off subject, I really think DT needs to do a better job of lighting up the sidewalks at night. In the grand-scheme of DTLA’s development, street lighting seems to be one of the more attainable and effective ways to go…

  6. Whitman says

    Maybe the 8th/Grand owners didn’t want the burden of including additional parking for any Olive side retail. Which is a shame, because any unoccupied sidewalk space usually gets filled up fast with homeless tent cities.

    • Boris says

      Huh? 8th and Grand building has hundreds of parking spots, far more than it needs because the city requires more than will ever fill up. The design of the streetscape was a deliberate dis to DTLA. 8th and Grand is a car-centric development. There are 4 driveway entrances, 2 on each side, and solid walls on 2 sides. How much more pedestrian unfriendly can it get?

  7. wildstar says

    $5 tacos? I could almost take an Uber to the tacos arizas truck and eat for that.

  8. dt says

    I’d really be worried about putting so much effort into a lot that potentially is going to be sold in the near future. Parking lots are developing left and right.

  9. Chicas Tacos is a vast improvement at 7th & Olive! It is such a welcome sight on the stretch that includes Domino’s, Pure Barre, and Dunkin Donut’s! It’s like an oasis where once was a dilapidated parking lot! The people at Chicas Tacos have demonstrated pride and care about our community and rewarded us with this fantastic menu with delicious food!

  10. Eric Miller says

    Although I live in East Africa these days, your article makes me want to return to Southern Cal! I moved away in the early 70’s.

    • Geoffrey H. says

      Because the owner of the taco shop is a greedy white hipster who wants to make money off of other idiots who live in their tiny “chic” boxes who can barely afford their rent! LMAO And if the idiots continue to pay for $5 tacos, next up will be $10 tacos sprinkled with gold flakes. *BARF*

  11. Maria sanchez says

    Hopefully down town LA does become as it once was feeling safe and enjoy walking around the streets that’s why I don’t visit anymore I don’t feel safe hopefully into the future it becomes better

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