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Who makes the best Carnitas in BayArea?

Mission Sep 25, 2002 11:44 AM

Who makes the best Carnitas in BayArea?

My current favorite is El taco Zamorano ,across the street from the Hells Angeles Hdq's on Foothill in Oakland.

I order the Carnitas Special dinner to go ,It comes in two large bags and weighs about 4 pounds.

Most of the heft is due to the large rice and beans platter.
However half of plate #2 is filled Pork Carnitas that is moist on the inside, crunchy on the outside from being fried in lard.
If you hit on the right day it can be jaw dropping.

Any other suggestions?

  1. s
    SLRossi Sep 25, 2002 02:08 PM

    This is the best topic ever! Ok, so I am off to your place soon, and will be taking my crew of crispy, fatty pork loving friends. We all really like the carnitas at Dona Tomas in Oakland on Telegraph at 52nd (?)... across from Genova Deli... which I suppose is another whole topic. The place is bit more high brow than most mexican places, but I'm told the food is very similar to what you actually find in Mexico. All the food is great, but the service is bit slow. You could die waiting for a drink from the bar, but it'll be worth the wait. I think the carnitas are $14.95. Can't wait to hear of other favorites...

    1. c
      Christine Vallejo Sep 25, 2002 03:10 PM

      I like the carnitas from Los Panchos in Pacheco. This is a take-out place, and my husband goes by there about once a week to pick up two orders of carnitas - total cost is $15.70. Nice tender chunks of pork, rice, beans, tortillas, and a scoop of salsa fresca - enough for two meals for me, one for the spouse.

      1. p
        Peter Yee Sep 26, 2002 06:58 PM

        I've not sampled all the carnitas in the Bay Area, but I've been more than satisfied with those at Taqueria La Bamba in Mountain View. Moist on the inside, quickly grilled when you order them so that they come out crispy on the outside, and seasoned just right (most of the time).

        Actually, I had great, moist carnitas at an Interop party at the late Cadillac Bar -- different in not being so crispy, but lusciously juicy beyond belief.


        1 Reply
        1. re: Peter Yee
          JohnnyP Sep 26, 2002 07:40 PM

          I'll second the vote for Taqueria La Bamba.

          (Old Middlefield Rd, just off the 101, in Mt. View)

          This was my first taqueria and one frequented often throughout my adolescence and early adulthood.

          I've since discovered that I was spoiled rotten by La Bamba because it is very hard to find comparable carnitas.

        2. j
          Jon Gillispie Oct 4, 2002 08:55 PM

          My vote goes to Jalisco's in Oakland. On East 14th I believe. Quality can vary some, but when it's all white meat, it's the best.


          1. p
            Pam H Oct 7, 2002 08:20 AM

            I second Taqueria La Bamba in Mountain View. Another place in Mountain View for consistently good carnitas is Fiesta Del Mar on Shoreline.

            Also, the restaurant on Higway 1 in Moss Landing - The Whole Enchilada.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Pam H
              Carb Lover Sep 22, 2006 01:54 AM

              Really? The Whole Enchilada, eh? I've wondered about this place. Do you mind posting a little more detail on the place on the California board linked below? Thanks!


            2. g
              goatcheesey Sep 22, 2006 12:16 AM

              I seriously love carnitas. Were I to get a tattoo, it might say "Carnitas 4 Life." I'd put it on my left bicep to look tough.

              I just went to La Bamba this afternoon. The place was packed. I ordered the regular carnitas burrito. Now the carnitas were definitely crispy. However, while I applauded the texture, I found that the flavor left something to be desired.

              My fiance, who's "Experience[d] the La Bamba difference" before, claimed that the meat was better on previous visits. This time it was kind of dry. I found myself adding rather copious amounts of hot sauce.

              Despite the relatively bland flavoring, I will return again. The "end" of the burrito, which I normally don't eat due to sogginess since it's the last part to be consumed, was unbelievable. Apparently a lot of the flavor had pooled there and it was juicy, tender... simply pig-tastic.

              As for the best carnitas, my award goes to the tacos from the mercado in the gas station in Pescadero - Taqueria y Mercado de Los Amigos.

              3 Replies
              1. re: goatcheesey
                Carb Lover Sep 22, 2006 01:55 AM

                Thanks for that Pescadero rec. Is there only one gas station?

                1. re: Carb Lover
                  Melanie Wong Sep 22, 2006 01:59 AM

                  Yes, only one gas station in Pescadero, across the street from Duarte's.

                  1. re: Melanie Wong
                    ciaogina Jan 5, 2007 03:35 PM

                    ONLY the gas station...on my recent 13-taqueria tour up and down the coast (post coming soon on Cali board) the gas staion is the place. this place is far better than the sister location. this carnitas was tasty but not the best on my Cali Taco Trail. I can't claim to the best just yet.

              2. a
                alag Sep 22, 2006 12:19 AM

                La Palma Mexicatessan in the Mission. I love their tamales and handmade tortillas as well.

                1. s
                  SFGal Sep 22, 2006 12:20 AM

                  South San Franciso -

                  La Perla on Lux. Crispy, lard fried peices of juicy, tasty pork. Heaven!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: SFGal
                    ChowFun_derek Sep 22, 2006 04:05 PM

                    Is that La Perla the resturant (I always go for their lengua and salsa...great stuff!)
                    or their grocery next door?

                    1. re: ChowFun_derek
                      foggy Sep 22, 2006 08:44 PM

                      Yes, the restaurant - really, really good puerco en salsa roja (pork in red sauce) as well and they do breakfast on the weekends. Okay, so I get carnitas or the port for breakfast, what can I say:-)

                      I think the store and restaurant are owned by the same people. I go to the store for queso fresco - good stuff.

                  2. Husky Sep 22, 2006 12:22 AM

                    La Taqueria at 25th & Mission in SF.

                    1. Eugene Park Sep 22, 2006 04:30 AM

                      Funny that the OP mentioned ETZ on Foothill. There was a crazy night where I thought I ordered from El Taco Zamarano Taqueria on International & High in Oakland, but I'd actually called the order in to ETZ on Foothill. I ended up having carnitas from both places that night.....vbg.

                      As for which was better, ETZ Taqueria was the clear winner. Crisp, salty with a hint of sweetness on the outside, moist & juicy on the inside. Plus ETZ Taqueria makes the most awesome freshly-made corn tortillas (medium thickness and made right before your eyes if you're at the to-go area).

                      I'm a hefty eater when I'm hungry, but it's extremely rare for me to finish the carnitas dinner on my own. $9.95 for this large hunk of heaven.

                      1. m
                        ML8000 Sep 22, 2006 04:57 AM

                        I'll fouth Taqueria La Bamba in Mountain View.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: ML8000
                          Agent 510 Sep 22, 2006 08:15 PM

                          I wonder if the Richmond branch of La Bamba measures up? That place makes what is still my favorite pupusa around here...

                          1. re: Agent 510
                            kc72 Sep 22, 2006 08:22 PM

                            the carnitas at the richmond location are still very good. i was there about 1.5 weeks ago (first time in about 6mos.) -- they were a little dry, but they were short handed during the lunch rush.

                        2. b
                          brian j Sep 22, 2006 09:25 PM

                          just tried San Jose Taqueria in San Rafael. had one carnitas taco and split a carnitas burrito with my buddy. the taco was stuffed with juicy shredded pork, and included some nice crispy bits. oh, crispy bits, how i love you so. way better than the carnitas i had at La Taqueria last weekend. the burrito didn't have the crispy bits, though. it was ok, but i wholeheartedly recommend the carnitas taco

                          San Jose Taqueria
                          615 4th St
                          San Rafael

                          It's located practically right below the 101.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: brian j
                            loghia Jan 5, 2007 07:25 AM

                            oh, god this place is heavenly. i had a carnitas taco and it was completely perfect. i also had a chicken quesadilla with corn tortillas and it was interestingly delicious. mmmmmmmm.

                          2. c
                            Carnitas Sep 23, 2006 12:22 AM

                            Is Zamorano back in business? About a month ago I saw on the late night news that a car had driven in to it.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Carnitas
                              Eugene Park Sep 23, 2006 12:30 AM

                              Which Zamorano - the Foothill one or the one on International & High?

                            2. hhc Sep 23, 2006 01:38 AM

                              I don't know if the carnitas at Sancho's Taqueria in Redwood City is good by itself, but the carnitas super burrito there was awesome.

                              Here's the post w/ pics for anyone that didn't read it already:

                              Anyone else try it?

                              1. k
                                Kevin Andrew Murphy Jan 5, 2007 11:41 PM

                                Tacos Al Pastor has several locations in San Jose. Curiously, I find their "al pastor" nothing to write home about, but their carnitas are excellent, as are the chile rellenos.

                                I usually go to the one on Almaden and Crown.

                                1. m
                                  mason1800 Oct 9, 2008 03:16 AM

                                  If you really must know the Best place for Carnitas in Oakland, it's Jalisco's, Between 17th and 18th Ave. on International Blvd.

                                  This place is so good, carnitas is their specialty and are only open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
                                  But be there early, as they are usually gone by 2-3pm. Everyone buys them by the pound and usually To Go! The restaurant is not that great, but the Carnitas no other word but AWSOME!!!!

                                  1. n
                                    Nancy Berry Oct 9, 2008 11:46 AM

                                    I love the carnitas at La Tapatia Mexicatessen on Grand Ave. in South San Francisco. Take-out only at this market that also makes its own tortillas.

                                    La Tapatia Mexicatessen
                                    411 Grand Ave, South San Francisco, CA 94080

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: Nancy Berry
                                      pastryqueen Oct 9, 2008 12:29 PM

                                      I absolutely second La Tapatia. . .been going there all my life and these are the "go to" carnitas for family gatherings. . i will actually volunteer to pick up someone from SFO so I can stop here and get some carnitas, chicharron, costillas, extra thick handmade tortillas (still hot from the griddle!), salsa tomatillo, and queso fresco.

                                      Jalisco on International is good but somewhat greasy at times and if you get there too late, you will get more "parts" than meat which for some is a good thing. :)

                                      In a cage match between carnitas from Jalisco & La Tapatia, I think La Tapatia would win. . . or at least it would in my house.

                                      1. re: Nancy Berry
                                        nanomatrix Mar 12, 2009 11:57 AM

                                        I can't believe it took until Oct 2008 for somebody to get this answer right. I live in Mountain View and I have to drive all the way to SSF just to get decent carnitas. It's a good thing they sell it by the pound. La Tapatia's carnitas have way more flavor that anything else I've found from SF to San Jose. Actually this place is more like a Mexican deli than a tacqueria ... killer burritos too.

                                        1. re: nanomatrix
                                          wolfe Mar 12, 2009 12:32 PM

                                          Melanie thought the carnitas were first rate in 2002.

                                          1. re: wolfe
                                            chow_eb Mar 12, 2009 09:32 PM

                                            Pork shoulder was $1.39/lb at Costco last might. Picked up a big package. Carnitas soon. Chile verde the next day. Homemade tomatillo sauce.

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