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Who makes the best Carnitas in BayArea?

  • m

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?

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  1. 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

      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. 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

          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

          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. 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

              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. 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

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

                1. re: Carb Lover

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

                  1. re: Melanie Wong

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

                1. South San Franciso -

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

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: SFGal

                    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

                      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. La Taqueria at 25th & Mission in SF.

                    1. 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. I'll fouth Taqueria La Bamba in Mountain View.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: ML8000

                          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

                            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. 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

                            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. 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

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

                            2. 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. 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. 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. 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

                                      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

                                        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: wolfe

                                            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.