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Jan 6, 2009 03:18 PM

Carnitas special at Otaez, Alameda was giving away $10 gift certificates, so I rounded up a friend and headed over to Otaez for lunch.

Friend had the #1 combo plate. It was a combo plate. It was huge. He enjoyed it (and he's pretty picky about his Mexican).

I had the carnitas, which is a regular special Fri-Sun. I've had it before and it was even better than I remembered: the pork is moist and yet well carmelized. Comes with a small green salad, rice and beans, plus all the warm housemade tortillas and chips and salsa you can eat. Maybe the best $7.95 plate of food you can get in a "real" restaurant.

1619 Webster St, Alameda, CA 94501

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  1. Thanks, Ruth. I remember trying to find a place that had exactly that on the Peninsula, but nobody had any suggestions. I was hoping for good carnitas plus housemade tortillas, so you have got my mouth watering.

    1. Sadly I find the food at the Alameda Otaez not nearly as good as the one in East Oakland, I think its so huge, that they are really, really inconsistent.

      2 Replies
      1. re: jason carey

        I agree that I've found them to be inconsistent -- the more "homestyle" the dish, the more it seems like whoever is at the stove cooks it his own way. I think that's true at the Fruitvale location as well, though.

        I still think the carnitas is an excellent bet.

        1. re: Ruth Lafler

          They can be inconsistent, but I've found that if you avoid the standard combination plates and order the daily specials such as the carnitas plate or the soups and stews it is usually excellent. And the weekend brunch buffet isn't bad at all.

      2. Is there still a way to get the $10 gc from

        1 Reply
        1. re: sydthekyd

          The free $10 gc were through their "feeditforward" program for the holidays. They have other promotions going on, though. Might be worth it to set up an account and be on their email list. I used one of the $25 gift certificates I bought for $2 last night.

        2. You know, I was really disappointed by the carnitas here. They were flabby, lukewarm, and ridiculously underseasoned the one time I had them. Ruth's reference to "well caramelized" makes me wonder if it was an off night. Worth another try?

          3 Replies
          1. re: Hunicsz

            Yup. As noted, they're inconsistent. I should say, though, that IMHO, good carnitas is not highly seasoned -- it should taste like essence of pork!

            1. re: Ruth Lafler

              Yes, Ruth, I agree that carnitas shouldn't be overly seasoned. However, IMHO, they require some salt (not much, mind you, but some). It was very bland, and somehow didn't have much pork taste at all. I will try again.

              On a side note, I recently had carnitas at Guadalajara and thought they were great---perfectly crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside, and super porky.

              Guadalajara Restaurant
              1001 Fruitvale Ave, Oakland, CA 94601

              1. re: Hunicsz

                Ah, yes. I've always loved the carnitas at Guadalajara's taco truck (El Novillo), and I've been meaning to try it in the restaurant. The one time I ate in the restaurant I wasn't impressed, but I think I ordered wrong.

          2. We also tried this restaurant under the same circumstances and were HUGELY disappointed since we, like another poster, had tried the International Blvd. place a few times and found the food authentic and service very good.
            The waiters at the Webster Street place firstly, took ten minutes to get to us, even after informing the hostess, and then, brought the wrong dishes.
            To add insult to injury, what we did order was god-awful - salty beyond belief and swimming in grease.
            If you want great and authentic Mexican food head to International Blvd - Huarache is fabulous!