13 Recipes and Restaurants for Meat-Free Tacos, From Carnitas to Al Pastor

Forget Taco Tuesdays—a true taco aficionado never limits this Mexican street food to one day of the week. It’s taco time any day, any time. From breakfast tacos to tacos dorados de papa (fried potato tacos), there’s a regional variety or unique mashup for every meal of the week. 

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Here’s how you can make them yourself from home, but also, if you’re feeling like dining out, the best restaurants to grab them from, too.

RELATED: 13 Chains Serving Up Meat-Free Tacos, Plus 10 Recipes

What are vegan tacos made of?

Traditionally, tacos are usually filled with meat such as chicken, beef, or pork. Traditional Mexican toppings include chopped onions and cilantro, but outside of the country, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, and sour cream are common. Luckily, it’s easy to veganize this popular Mexican dish with a few simple swaps. 

Meat can be swapped for plant-based protein or beans, for example, while dairy cheese can be replaced with one of the many vegan cheese alternatives on the market. Mushrooms, jackfruit, and guacamole are also great vegan taco fillings. 

Everything you need to make perfect vegan tacos (plus restaurant recommendations!)

Looking for more taco inspo? Check out the different types of delicious tacos listed below, as well as the best ways to veganize them (and where to order vegan versions!).

VegNews.vegantacos.chicanoChicano Eats

1 Tacos al pastor

Inspired by the Middle Eastern technique of cooking meat on a spit, al pastor is traditionally made with pork that is rubbed down with spices, slow-roasted, and mixed with pineapple. The vegan version—often made with mushrooms or seitan—provides the same sweet-meets-spicy flavor profile without the rotating pork shank.
Try this recipe: Vegan Tacos Al Pastor
Where to find them: Tacotarian in Las Vegas, NV and San Diego, CA

VegNews.vegantacos.plantbasedredblogPlant Based RD

2 Tacos dorados de papa

At times, there is nothing better than a simple fried potato taco. Whether enjoyed on their own or garnished with salsa and guacamole, these potato-stuffed fried tortillas never fail to satisfy a savory craving.
Try this recipe: Crispy Vegan Potato Tacos
Where to find them: Pancho’s Vegan Cantina in Las Vegas, NV

Barbacoa TacoNuno’s Tacos & VegMex Grill

3 Tacos de barbacoa

Trust us, you don’t want to know where the meat-based barbacoa comes from. The vegan version, however, is typically made from mushrooms, seitan, or jackfruit. It’s tender, juicy, and not too spicy for those with sensitive palates.
Try this recipe: 1-Pot Vegan Barbacoa
Where to find them: Nuno’s Tacos & VegMex Grill in Dallas, TX

VegNews.vegantacos.veganrichaVegan Richa

4 Tacos de carnitas

Both mushrooms and jackfruit perfectly mimic the slow-cooked pulled pork that characterizes meat-based carnitas. This filling is succulent, flavor-packed, and works well in a freshly pressed corn tortilla.
Try this recipe: Vegan Carnitas with Mushrooms
Where to find them: Vegan by El Zamorano in Costa Mesa, CA

VegNews.vegantacosSweet Simple Vegan

5 Tacos de carne asada

For a smoky, grilled flavor of plant-based beef, opt for the carne asada. It’s become a staple protein option for vegan taquerias from Los Angeles to San Antonio. When in doubt, it’s hard to go wrong with this safe bet.
Try this recipe: Vegan Carne Asada Tacos
Where to find them: Mis Tacones, in Portland, OR

VegNews.vegantacos.seabirdsSeabirds Kitchen

6 Fried avocado tacos

Why top a taco with guac when the entire taco can consist of a thick wedge of crispy-on-the-outside, creamy-on-the-inside avocado? This type of taco needs no adornments; it’s perfect as is.
Try this recipe: Vegan Crusted Avocado Tacos
Where to find them: Seabirds Kitchen in Costa Mesa and Long Beach, CA

Birria TacosEat Figs, Not Pigs

7 Tacos de birria

This meaty, stew-like filling comes from city of Guadalajara in Mexico and is often served as a celebration dish. However, it’s not uncommon to find it as a vegan option in the US. Be warned: it’s spicy—at least, it should be.
Try this recipe: Vegan Birria Tacos
Where to find them: El Cocinero in Van Nuys, CA


8 Fish tacos

The innovation in vegan fish tacos has surprised us with each crispy, flaky bite. From expertly seasoned and fried tofu to nori-infused jackfruit, these Baja tacos don’t get enough credit.
Try this recipe: Fishless Baja Tacos
Where to find them: Tacotarian in Las Vegas, NV and San Diego, CA

VegNews.vegantacos.purplecarrotPurple Carrot

9 Korean Tacos

Coined by the San Antonio Taco Editor José Ralat, these tacos are a product of K-Mex, largely brought to popularity by celebrity chef Roy Choi. Today, you can find tacos in many Korean fusion restaurants stuffed with tofu, kimchi, and cilantro.
Try this recipe: Korean Tofu Tacos
Where to find them: Seabirds Kitchen in Long Beach and Los Angeles, CA

VegNews.vegantacos.cenaveganCena Vegan

10 Tacos de pollo asado 

Pollo asado packs a deep flavor combination of citrus, smoke, and spice. It’s marinated then grilled, and while different chefs may have slightly different spice ratios, this chicken-based taco filling is easy to identify thanks to its vibrant red-orange sheen. The plant-based version keeps the flavor and simply swaps out the chicken for a vegan protein alternative such as seitan, TVP (textured vegetable protein), or vegan chicken.
Try this recipe: Vegan Chicken Tacos
Where to find them: Cena Vegan in Los Angeles, CA


11 Breakfast tacos

Don’t limit yourself—breakfast tacos can be eaten any time of day. Typically, these are characterized with the addition of vegan egg and often chorizo or sausage. Like other tacos, the sky’s the limit after that—load up a hot flour or corn tortilla with scrambled Just Egg, beans, and salsa, or top seasoned crumbled tofu with vegan sausage and pico de gallo.
Try this recipe: Vegan Mushroom-Sausage Breakfast Hash Tacos
Where to find them: The Vegan Nom in Austin, TX

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12 Chorizo

Meaty vegan chorizo packs a punch of flavor and meaty texture you won’t want to miss. Dress it up with all the fixings (cilantro, onion, guacamole, and your choice of salsa) for your new go-to.
Try this recipe: Soy Chorizo and Potato Tacos
Where to find them: Tacotarian in Las Vegas, NV and San Diego, CA

VegNews.vegantingatacosThe Curious Chickpea

13 Tacos de tinga

Smoky and tomatoey with a slight kick of heat, tinga is perfect for scooping into soft corn tortillas. One bite of this saucy taco and you’ll wonder how you went so long without it.
Try this recipe: Vegan Tinga Tacos
Where to find them: Succulent Vegan Tacos in Nashville, TN

For more vegan tacos, read: