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Seeking Carne Asada marinade used by Vallarta Mart Mexican grocery store

If you haven't had to opportunity to try the carne asada sold at the Vallarta Mart Mexican Grocery stores found throughout the San Fernando Valley & East L.A., I strongly encourage you to treat your friends to Vallarta's marinated Carne Asada & become a culinary hero in their eyes.

Now, that I live in Santa Monica it is seldomly convenient to make the trek up to the valley to buy Vallarta's marinated Carne Asada in bulk.

I am hoping that someone on this site can tell me if they know what ingredients Vallarta Mart is using to marinate their meat with to make that uniquely delicious Carne Asada that I so sorely miss.

I would also love to know of any Mexican markets in the Santa Monica/Venice area that have a particulary tasty marinated Carne Asada.

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  1. As I have never experienced Vallarta's carne asada, I can only say that I buy marinated meat, Carne Asada, from Don Felix on Sawtelle, and either flash grill it indoors or over coals outside, and I have been satisfied. I also buy their marinated chicken breasts, but ask that they be sliced filet style, thinner. They are very accommodating. And while there, go next door and get a Carnitas taco! Yummmmmm.

    1. Vallarta Mart Mexican -- where located? I googled and couldn't find. tnx

      1 Reply
      1. You might want to email the SOS column at the LA Times. They successfully answered one of my queries years ago.

        1. Thanks so much, Porterhouse! I must have googled wrong --

          1. Can you describe any "juices" and the flavor of the meat so we can guess?

            I've eaten enough carne asade in my life to at least make an educated guess, IMHO.

            BTW, I LOVE this chain of stores. Have you had their prepared carnitas? They're awesome.

            2 Replies
            1. re: ozzygee

              So I remembered they have recipes on their website.


              This may be close.

              It's similar to the best carne asada I've ever had was made with a dry rub (adobo) and an orange/lime marinade with onions and cilantro. The meat was dry rubbed in the butcher case, then they ran it through a meat tenderizer and only added the marinade when they bagged it.

              1. re: ozzygee

                This sounds right to me. I recall red powder (maybe ground chile?) and the juice of a fresh orange squeezed on the meat, after it was placed in a plastic bag.

            2. That Carne Asada is delicious, I have a friend that is addicted to it as well. Why not ask one of the butchers what they use, the Vallarta near me on Victory and Woodley has super super nice staff in that dept. Next time I go, I'll ask as well.

              1 Reply
              1. Try Mojo Criollo by Goya. That's what the butcher showed me at a local carniceria. Its a base of orange & lemon juice, garlic onion. Its delish'. This marinade is available in most latin american supermarkets.

                1. Try El Camaguey Market on Venice (between Sepulveda and Overland).

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: vinosnob

                    I love the taste of El Camaguey's carne asada, too. When I asked them what they use in their marinade, they pointed to the carne asada seasoning by Chef Merito (which they sell and which, unfortunately, contains MSG). Chef Merito is also what Pico Ranch Market (on Pico and Meadowbrook) claims to use, although I don't think their carne is quite as good as El Camaguey.

                  2. Here you go. If you ask for it fresh, you can watch them do it:

                    Fresh white onion, sliced
                    tons of cilantro
                    garlic powder
                    lemon juice
                    lime juice (mexican sweet limes are best, but green limes will pass)
                    chili powder
                    a few jalepenos.

                    If you ask, they'll add some beer, which I reccomend. A cheap cerveza is fine. Dos Equis, etc.

                    layer the meat with bits of the marinade in between. Put into a plastic bag and pour marinade remains over. Seal bag, let sit for a few hous if you can in fridge. Grill a few minutes on a side (look for just a little char)

                    You gotta buy the thin thin beef for it. But you can use the marindae for chicken, pork, lengua, even firm fish and shrimp. You can also use it for a yummy crab salad. Just shred the cooked crab meat and pour the marinade over. Then serve on tostadas (real ones) with a little mayo and another squeeze of lime (mexican sweet lime!)

                    Carne Asada Ranchera Preparada.

                    All the ingredients can be found at mexican markets really cheap!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Diana

                      Diana is almost right. The chilie powder is a jar of carne asada powder that they sell at the vallarta. They do not us Jalepenos. The expensive meat 4.99.lb is the best carne asada as the meat has alot to do with the tenderness.

                      This is my marinade that you can try which many people love it.
                      Italiian dressing, garlic, cilantro, green onion, salt, carne asada powder, and lemon juice all blended in the blender. pour over the meat and let meat soak overnight. this is a very good marinade and gives a great flavor.

                    2. I have grown up with Carne asada all my life and must admit I think Tresierras markets Carne asada is far juicer and has an incredible marinade.

                      1. I love their stuff . .

                        1. i went there this morning and asked them.it's chili powder an sunny delight.

                          1. Of all the Carne Asada I've consumed over the years, Tresierras has everybody beat when it comes to their marinaded Carne Asada (Flap Steak) and Beef Ribs. If you like Vallart's marinade, that fine but I've been to Vallartas and it just doesn't compare.

                            If you haven't had Tresierras' Carne Asada, you guys are missing out. It will change your mind on what Carne Asada could or should taste like. First of all, Tresierras uses USDA Choice meat - that's a huge plus. Vallarta, on the other hand, uses Select - an inferior cut of meat (less marbling and not as juicy or soft). The difference in textue is immediately noticeable. To my tastebuds, Vallarta's marinade is salty and just plain funky. Tresierras marinade is just right, not salty, not overly citrus and always consistently good.

                            If you haven't already, check them out.
                            I shop at their Newhall location at:

                            24316 San Fernando Rd.
                            Newhall, CA

                            They have other locations too but I live in Newhall so this is the one I go to. It's a small store but they have everything you need to put on a great BBQ. I wouldn't go anywhere else for beef, pork or chicken. The quality and price are just right.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: GretaMom

                              What do they put in their marinade?

                              1. re: vinosnob

                                Exactly, I don't know but you can tell it's based off of orange juice...not sunny delight, that's for sure. As for the vegetables, the only visible are cilantro but there's definitely some other things going on in there that I can't pin point eithr by tasting or by looking. It's really good and their marinade is consistent...it's always good! I've purchased Vallarta's once for myself out of curiosity and the other two occasions I had it, were at someone elses BBQs. I've had their chicken too and Vallarta's marinades just don't hold a candle to Tresierras, in my opinion. The kicker for me is that Tresierras sells Choice beef for most of their cuts and Vallartas sells Select yet still charges you the same price. Tresierras sells Prime cuts too but the Ranchera meat or Carne Asada is Choice - that's the right decision.

                              2. re: GretaMom

                                Thank you SO MUCH for recommending Tresierras Asada. Based on your post/this thread, i picked up a couple pounds of it and broiled it and oh man... it was amazing. Seriously, I don't think i can go back to Vallarta's asada. I gotta say though, I don't regularly go to Pacoima (closest to me) but it was a tad scary, both the neighborhood and the store itself but i think I will be back. its that good.

                                Vallarta Restaurant
                                563 W Ventura St, Fillmore, CA 93015

                              3. Can't speak to Vallarta Mart, but most places use oranges (green Mexican if you're lucky) and bulk chili powder. Sometimes it is already mixed with salt. I add to it by pouring a lager into it for extra umph. I like a place called La Tapatia in El Sereno, but that's a bit far from Santa Monica.

                                La Tapatia
                                3319 N Eastern Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90032

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: ohdaylay

                                  This is in reply to La Tapatia in El Sereno..It is one of the best places to purchase your Carne Asada. They will put that meat thru the meat grinder prior to marination which happens to be one of the tastiest Carne Asada I've ever had

                                  1. re: Gonzalez

                                    Concur on La Tapatia. Very fine stuff.

                                    1. re: Gonzalez

                                      And while in El Sereno, stop by the Red Hot Kitchen on Valley Blvd. (about 2 blocks West of Eastern) for a place that has a nice take on the Asian/Mexican fusion thing. Really good and nice size portions w/friendly prices. Start w/the tacos....one spicy pork and one short rib.....you'll be happy.

                                  2. There is a small restaurant in Wilmington that all the longshoremen in the area go to for carne asada. It 's called Issac's and it's in a neighborhood on Fries Ave. I remember when it was just a building without even their name printed anywhere. From there it's grown to accomodate some seating but not much. Their carne asada burritos are excellent. But sometimes they're not as juicy as other days so hopefully you get it on a good day. They also have a "Jones" burrito that is a red chile burrito with avocado and cheese. Very tasty!!!

                                    1. Hey Patrick, I know what you mean trying to find a GOOD mex. meat market is almost impossible, I grew up in the culver city area and was raised on carne asada from Sanchez meat market, a little pricey but well worth it, I now live in Lakewood and no luck finding a market with good meat so I make the trek to Sanchez, well worth it, they are on Inglewood blvd just s. of culver blvd.
                                      Killer to go food too. Enjoy

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: fvalencia

                                        If you have never tried Luis Meat Market in Bellflower before then it would be worth your while to try it and see what you think. It would certainly cut down your gasoline bill and drive time to get to Sanchez if it ends up scratching your carne asada itch.

                                        Luis Meat Market
                                        10308 Artesia Blvd
                                        Bellflower, CA 90706
                                        (562) 461-1111

                                        1. re: Servorg

                                          Thanks for the recommendation but I have tried it and I'm sorry to say it does not come close to Sanchez, I'm not promoting Sanchez I have had times when I have bought meat and there would be pieces that were tougher than leather, but that may happen 1 out 10 times, a co-worker told me about a market in Downey that I still have to try.
                                          The search shall continue, I won't give up.