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Feb 2, 2009 03:20 PM

El Borrego de Oro - get your goat on!

El Borrego de Oro, which means “The Golden Sheep”, sits rather unassumingly in little strip mall on the northeast corner of Soto and Whittier Blvd. in East LA, directly across from the landmark Carnitas Michoacán. The small, family-owned restaurant specializes in Barbacoa estillo Hidalgo, that is, freshly slaughtered lamb, slow-cooked with hardwoods and mesquite for 8-10 hours in a pit built into the ground, covered with Maguey leaves then buried-over with dirt (see website video). The result is a wonderfully delicious, mouth-wateringly tender Barbacoa possessing a subtle, unique flavor that is almost intoxicating as it sends your culinary senses reeling. Other traditional Mexican fare is on the menu but the Barbacoa is served up fresh on Saturday and Sunday only.

Upon my Saturday morning arrival, the tiny restaurant was packed to the gills, including a sole Mariachi making his rounds. To-go service was very prompt and efficient. A couple of pounds of regular Barbacoa and a pound each of the red and the green chile Pancita (stomach and internal organs) along with rice, beans, fresh handmade tortillas, salsas, onions, cilantro and horchata and I was set to impress.

The Barbacoa was phenomenal, consisting of various cuts of meat from the ribs, legs, shoulder and head. Each cut retained its own character and flavor, some lean, some fattier, a bit of crust here and there. The flavor was mild with barely a hint of smoke or spice. That, by tradition, is how it should be. Spices/salsas are added upon eating. Truly, food for the gods.

The red chile Pancita was cooked in a plain yet rich chile paste, spicy with just enough heat not to overwhelm. The green chile version was akin to a spicy tomatillo with onions, cilantro and other spices. Hands down my favorite. Degustatory delight!

The rice was excellent, a loose grain cooked to perfection with just a few peas and carrots for added flavor. Beans were cooked and refried with Manteca (lard) for that fabulous fat flavor. Yes indeed, that’s how we like ‘em.

The salsas were absolutely outstanding, some of the best ever, a deep dark chile rojo and a zesty chile verde. I have tough time deciding which I prefer. I probably tend toward the rojo since I virtually drank a couple of ounces of it straight. Delish!

The handmade tortillas and accompaniments were fresh and excellent as was the horchata. Service was first-rate. Fast, friendly and with a bit of due humor given my first, but certainly not my last, visit. Well worth the 50+ mile round trip drive.

Overall, I’d say that the folks at El Borrego de Oro are masters at what they do. If you like lamb, goat, mutton and/or Barbacoa, run, don’t walk on down and pick some up or eat in. They have two locations, less than a mile apart. I was told by the manager, a really cool guy, that the Washington location is larger with better parking.

What a find!

Here’s the link to their website:

El Borrego de Oro #1
2403 Whittier Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90023
(323) 780-4213

El Borrego de Oro #1
2808 E. Washington Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90023
(323) 780-1132

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  1. Im thinking of a Chowhound Roadtrip.. Sounds good. mmmm anyone up for it..

    4 Replies
    1. re: Foodandwine

      Mmmmmmmaybe! Sounds to me like a match made in heaven. Love me some sheeps and goats, whether alive or barbecued.

      So there's another Carnitas Michoacan as well? The one we've gone to is on N. Broadway, just east of the 5. Related, or just the same name?

      1. re: Will Owen

        OMG!, this sounds so frigging good!. I want to try this place in a bad way NOW!

        1. re: Will Owen

          Supposedly, they (Carnitas Michoacan #3 on Soto) are under the same ownership as the original N. Broadway location. There's also a C.M. #2 in Van Nuys that I have yet to try. I've been a devotee of the original for many years. Awesome tacos de tripas - tender with just the right edge of crunch for my tastes. Their salsas are superb as well.

          1. re: degustateur

            Some Nashville friends of ours have a house in Patzcuaro, and when the guy was visiting us last year we took him to CM on N. Broadway. He just went nuts for it, swearing it was exactly like the street food he and his wife had become addicted to. As an artist, he also loved the murals! Now we gotta go back...

      2. Great place touted by Eat Nopal in the past and recently reviewed by Kaire Raisu.I believe barbacoa here is daily while only pancita is served on the weekends.And, there is no chivo(goat) at this mutton specialist, a whole other animal, literally.Thanks for reminding me that I need to try this place for myself one of these times.Do they serve it with beans and rice?Not really part of the program.It should just be barbacoa, consume, tortillas, pancita, and salsas for those dining who want the authentic and balanced experience.Looking forward to it.

        1 Reply
        1. re: streetgourmetla

          You definitely need to try it! I went back yesterday morning for a repeat, albeit smaller order. Consistently wonderful. I checked with Norberto, the manager, and yes, they do serve fresh barbacoa everyday, pancita et al. Their website implies that it is served only Saturdays and Sundays. Everything is sold a la carte. On my first visit, I ordered the rice and beans only to audition them. In my mini-review, I forgot to mention the consomme - a wonderfully rich yet light broth with hominy, some veg and a rather large lamb bone with delicious marrow on the inside and shards of meat and fat still attached outside.

        2. i just tried this place on friday. it's about 50 feet away from Rodriguez Liquor, in case anyone here wants to get some tequila and lamb in one trip.

          i ordered the 1-lb boneless meat order for $13. it comes with freshly made thick corn tortillas. one can instead opt for the $12.50 "combo" which also comes with rice, beans and consomme, but getting the all-meat order for the same price seems like a better deal. the meat itself was excellent and rather plentiful. one order is enough to make about 8-10 hearty tacos, more than enough for two people to share.

          my only gripe is that the $13 order doesn't come with consomme. the large consomme is an extra $3.50 or so. being charged for consomme seems a bit weird, but it was still a good deal overall. the two of us stuffed ourselves for about $20, including one mexican coke in a bottle. the consomme had garbanzo beans, which was a nice touch.

          2 Replies
          1. re: ceviche

            I wouldnt worry about the consomme -its pretty poor

            1. re: kare_raisu

              You're right, the consomme at My Taco (which I ate at later that same day) was way more flavorful. But still, being charged for cooking liquid kinda sucks.

          2. Pardon my ignorance, but do they serve goat or lamb? I promised my wife I would find a really good BBQ goat restaurant. Maybe it's because I got a B- in Biology, but I"m a bit confused.

            It does look really good, but she doesn't like lamb.

            5 Replies
            1. re: bsquared2

              If she doesn't like lamb then she will not be pleased with barbacoa de borrego, which is lamb.There is no goat at a barbacoa de borrego place.

              There is no goat BBQ in LA. In Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas, Mexico goat BBQ, or kid(cabrito)is popular, but we don't have that here.

                1. re: Servorg

                  You are full of puns lately. Keep 'em coming. :)

                  They also do a 7 courses of goat down in Little Saigon if that sounds interesting. Not BBQ in any way though.

                  1. re: Servorg

                    Here's another great GOAT place in ECHO PARK area if interested.


                2. re: bsquared2

                  There is a big sign inside the restaurant advertising goat catering service for parties. Feeds 25-30 people. Hmmmm....