Critic Brad A. Johnson says Amor y Tacos in Cerritos should be on every taco lover’s bucket list.

All too often, the fancier the taco, the less it works. 

The tacos at Amor y Tacos in Cerritos are indeed fancy, but this is a rare exception to that rule. Every one of the tacos at this lively cantina at the county line is a chef-driven composition, an artistic representation inspired by a taco somewhere in the chef’s distant past that was undoubtedly much, much simpler. 

But as I’ve said before, and I’ll say again: Chef Thomas Ortega is one of the best chefs of Mexican food in all of California. So when he gets all fancy with a taco, he knows what he’s doing. So put these on your bucket list. 

The carne asada taco is made with high-quality skirt steak marinated in citrus — heavily charred yet still medium-rare — topped with red-wine-soaked onions, loosely mashed guacamole and Arbol chile salsa. 

Short rib tacos are stuffed with stewed chile Colorado and drizzled with burnt habanero cream along with caramelized onions, pickled radish, and arugula. Wait, arugula, seriously? Yes, and it works. 

Meanwhile, the rajas con queso tacos are filled with thin strips of grilled green chilies, plus cilantro and cotija cheese. 

It’s hard to go wrong here. 

Amor y Tacos

Where: 13333 South St., Cerritos

When: Lunch and dinner daily (mariachi brunch on Sundays)