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Jan 30, 2009 10:36 AM

Crispy Carnitas??

I know this subject has been hit before.. but can anyone recommend their favorite carnitas in SF or down the peninsula? My preference is that they are crispy (fried) and, of course, flavorful.

The best place I've found was actually the taco truck by the court house on Bryant but that is typically closed during the off business hours. El Metate was decent, but it has been hit and miss.


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  1. La Tapatia in downtown SSF

    1. La Bamba in Mountain View. They put it on the griddle to reheat it before putting it in tacos. It's like pork hash...but way better.

      7 Replies
      1. re: ML8000

        I'll second that... plus there's a Richmond La Bamba location which is much closer to me.

        1. re: kc72

          Are the carnitas really "worth driving 15 minutes out of my way" delicious? (referring to the Richmond location.) What dishes (in addition to tacos) are the carnitas good in? (I know some places don't grill them prior to putting them in certain dishes.)

          1. re: lmnopm

            I've always had them in a burrito or quesadilla. They were closed for a few months for remodeling (I believe RW said they've reopened recently) -- I havent't been back yet.

            1. re: kc72

              I think the carnitas at the MV location is slightly better. Re: tacos vs. burrito, I always get the plate which is pretty much pork crack cocaine.

              1. re: ML8000

                Thanks for the tip.. will try the plate next time -- what's it come w/?

                1. re: ML8000

                  I tried the carnitas plate at the MV location of La Bamba, based solely on these recommendations (because the place looks like a dive). The carnitas were wonderful, both tasty and crispy. The best that I have found in the South Bay and/or peninsula.

                  1. re: boopa

                    i agree with that. I usually get the carnitas when I'm down in the South Bay. It's actually a little similar to the Al Pastor at Taqueria San Jose.

        2. Los Altos Taqueria is kitty-corner from La Bamba in Mountain View. Also crispy and well-spiced. And, you can sit and enjoy your food.

          There is a sense, among patrons if not shops, of friendly competition among Los Altos, La Bamba, and La Costeña -- all at the intersection of Old Middlefield Way and Rengstorff. Try them all and choose your favorite.

          Los Altos Taqueria
          2105 Old Middlefield Way Ste E, Mountain View, CA 94043

          6 Replies
          1. re: anyhow

            Has La Costena improved, gotten new owners or are there specifics to order? Because back in the day their tacos and burritos weren't all that good, actually a bit frightful. (yes I know it has a following) I might not have order their specialty but never occurred to me to go back, esp given La Bamba is basically next door.

            1. re: ML8000

              Taqueria Guadalajara is the only place that I know that does true authentic fried carnitas.

              I've lived on 24th and Valencia for 5 years and this is the only place I've found that does it the best. Delicious!

              1. re: ML8000

                I don't know much about La Costeña these days. They still do a lot of business, based on the lines and the parking, at the original grocery store + served buffet burrito station. A few years ago, they opened a restaurant two blocks West on Rengstorff (in the nation's worst strip mall) named Tapatio's. Same food, new surroundings.

                I have returned to La Bamba occasionally, but I like Los Altos Taqueria for the tacos, but also for the dozens of plated meals, shrimp cocktails, chiles rellenos, and futbol on TV.

                My only unfulfilled taqueria desire in the bay area is a shredded beef taquito, topped with guacamole and salsa cruda. I have tried for the 15 years I've lived here. I just want it plain and simply delicious. For reference, not to start a war, if you have had taquitos at Manuel's "El Tepeyac" in East LA, you know.

                I will follow suggestions and be grateful for help finding el mero taquito. Gracias.

                1. re: anyhow

                  Thanks for the info on LC. I don't hang out in the area like I use to, so if I'm there I go with what I know. I think I was a Los Altos but didn't know what to order.

                  You might try La Fiesta in Mountain View for beef taquitos or flautas. There are better ones but these are pretty good.

                  La Fiesta Restaurant
                  240 Villa St, Mountain View, CA 94041

                  1. re: ML8000

                    If you come back to Los Altos Taqueria, you will find big color photos of many, but not all, menu items. New items added either seasonally or on demand. Posole was added recently. The counter staff are bi-lingual and very helpful.

                    On Yelp, little things like free chips and salsa are deal-makers for taco shops. Of the 3 shops on what Jatbar calls "the burrito triangle," only L.A.T. gives them and refills the baskets and bowls. The chips and salsa are fresh and good and I would pay for them if asked.

                    I hope you enjoy it if you try it.

                  2. re: anyhow

                    The last couple of times I went to La Costena, the wait was intense. Not because the line was long, but simply because the burritos took so long to make. At 15 minutes a burrito, I'd die of old age. I've taken my business elsewhere - lots of taquerias within a mile.

              2. I adore carnitas--always order them if they're on the menu--and my favorite spot is La Pinata on Park Street in Alameda. They're always crispy and just what I like. The carnitas place comes with beans of choice (I prefer black beans), Spanish rice, a little grated carrot salad. a dab of guacamole on some pico de gallo and a rather strange-looking whole jalapeno I've never dared to try. And they give you a lot. It's a full plate. Sometimes I take food home. Their margaritas are not as good as Tommy's in San Francisco. They insist on using tyheir own citrus sweet & sour mix which just seems strange. Last night I had the bartender make me one with just limes, and he charged me an arm & a leg--delicious margarita though!