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Jun 29, 2006 05:26 PM

Cheap Eats in Downtown San Diego, near Horton

I'm down in downtown for the summer and wanted to get advice to cheap, good eats around here (the interns seem to be on a budget.)

BTW, any recs for good carnitas around here?

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  1. Wecome to town OKK,

    I don't know about downtown but there's a little hole in the wall in Pt. Loma not too far from you with great Carnitas:

    Hector's Mexican & Seafood
    1224 Rosecrans St, San Diego, CA
    (619) 221-9138

    Harbor Drive to Rosecrans, turn left, down around five blocks on your right.

    Not as good as the best pork I have had in Mexico but great for around here.

    1. The best carnitas are, of course, in Mexico. You can still find very good carnitas at Carnita Uruapan in Lemon Grove, about 10 miles East of downtown, or at Porkyland in Barrio Logan, about 5 miles sort of southeast from downtown. Further south is Por Venir which does very, very good carnitas. It's a hole in the wall place, but worth the effort.

      1. Yeh, I want good carnitas, short of going to Mexico or marrying a mexican wife.

        I've had two general types of carnitas: one that seems like just normal stewed pork, and ones that seems to be stewed with jalapenos and chiles. Where can I find more of the second type?

        1 Reply
        1. re: okk

          Uh, where are you from and what do you think carnitas really are, in other words, what are you expecting them to be? The one thing they are not is stewed, either with jalapenos or without. Making carnitas may involve some "stewing" at the beginning, but they should be crispy on the outside and succulently tender on the inside. They almost never come with jalapenos cooked into them.

        2. Please don't hurt me! I'm a newb.

          pardon the terminology. I don't cook much.

          I did, however, have some carnitas that had jalapenos and chiles, and the flavor was all over the pork. It might not be the carnitas you're referring to, but that's what they called it on the menu.

          Thanks for the previous suggestions.

          2 Replies
          1. re: okk

            That's not carnitas. That sounds like chile verde.

            DiningDiva's recommendation of Carnitas Uruapan is the one I'd suggest following. It's the sister restaurant to one in Tijuana, and they make it the traditional way.

            Traditional carnitas is deep-fried pork shoulder.

            Stewed pork with jalapenos is something else entirely.

            Also, be aware that a lot of places try and pass stuff off as carnitas that isn't, because most people don't know any better.

            One last piece of advice - don't just get carnitas anywhere. The number of places that do it properly is small. Most places have bad carnitas - the good spots are few in number.

            Some places I've had what I consider to be good carnitas:

            Casa Guadalajara, just north of Old Town on Taylor St.
            El Cuervo Taco Shop, Washington St. in Hillcrest
            Carnitas Uruapan, Lemon Grove
            Porkyland, Logan Heights

            The other places Diva mentioned I can't speak for, but the fact that she mentioned Uruapan and Porkyland tells me that she knows her carnitas!

            1. re: okk

              Sorry, wasn't trying to be mean, it's just that what you described as carnitas doesn't really resemble or describe carnitas. Think pork confit, I think that would be a close approximation. That's why I asked what you thought carnitas were. Also, there is so much BAD, or bastardized, Mexican food served in the U.S., it helps to know what kind of Mexican food you're used to eating.

            2. Sweet. Thanks Josh. I'm in here to learn more from you gurus.