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Best Carnitas in S.D

Nate Apr 23, 2002 02:00 PM

I'm looking for a place in San Diego that makes their carnitas like it's done in Baja (whole pig cut up and fried in a large copper container).

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  1. g
    Gayla Apr 23, 2002 03:28 PM

    I have no clue how they prepare their carnitas, but you might want to check out El Cuervo at 1st and Washington in Hillcrest. They even have a parking lot in a neighborhood in which it is difficult to find parking.

    I've been doing the carnitas search too, and so far El Cuervo are the best that I've found. Mind you, they may not really be the best in the County, they're just the best version that I've found so far. Soft and crispy at the same time, with a pleasant pork flavor. The perfect foil for a fresh corn tortilla or salsa fresca.

    One of the things that has really struck me since moving back to San Diego are the number of Mexican restaurants that have NO pork on their menu at all!! How can a restaurant proclaim itself to be Mexican and not use pork? Hopefully, I've just been looking in all the wrong places. Please post if you find the definitive plate of carnitas in San Diego, my inquiring mind would like to know too.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Gayla
      howbouttacos May 6, 2007 12:15 PM

      El Cuervo has excellent al pastor also.

    2. d
      Dumpling Apr 23, 2002 07:33 PM

      This was posted by Thi N. on the L.A. board last week:
      "...can't remember who, but someone on this board recommended, on the California board, a tortilla factory place right in Barrio Logan for the best carnitas ever. To that person, I say, Thank You, my life has changed."
      What's the name of this place? Maybe we can squeeze it out of Thi. I do remember driving past a place that looked like a restaurant that was called something like the Tortilla Factory, but I'm not sure where I was.

      He also said that he found a gread panaderia, in "Barrio Logan. Right off the 5, at Logan and Carson."

      2 Replies
      1. re: Dumpling
        Cathy Jun 15, 2007 04:29 PM

        El Provenir makes and sells tortillas and ony does carnitas. On National Avenuejsut off 5 and Cesar Chavez.

        1. re: Cathy
          cgfan Jun 15, 2007 06:17 PM

          Love El Porvenir... Thanks to mmm-yoso (http://mmm-yoso.typepad.com/mmmyoso/2007/01/another_taco_sh.html ) for the discovery. According to their sign, they've been operating since 1910!

          Sometimes the carnitas is very moist and succulent, other times parts of it obtains an almost translucent amber color where the fat has saturated it turning it golden and almost crispy. (I particularly like it when it's like the latter...) But it's always been excellent.

          I particularly like the small size of the flour tortillas that they use for their burritos. Perfect size for me, as I find that burritos everywhere else are way to big. It may mean that sometimes I'll be ordering 2 due to the smaller size, but somehow it makes it all taste better... Makes for a better balance between the protein and starch components, I'd say...

          I never was one to be bothered by the looks of small ethnic eateries such as El Porvenir, and in many ways I see it as a good sign. (http://www.chowhound.com/topics/331324#1923827 ) So if you can handle having your lunch while a strip of flypaper hangs overhead, generously loaded, might I add, then this is the place to go!

          Here are some pictures that I've put up on Flickr... (http://www.flickr.com/photos/akatayam... ) [shows up even better if you click on the slideshow link...]

      2. b
        buzznutter Apr 24, 2002 11:01 AM

        A couple of thoughts:

        Old Town Mexican Cafe: Yes it can be a tourist trap (especially in summer) but their carnitas are excellent, as much for the accompaniments as the carnitas itself. They give you homemade fresh flour and corn tortillas, sliced avocados, onion, cilantro and larded refried beans with better than average salsa. Once put together, the melange of flavors is fantastic, one of the best gut plugs going.

        Porkyland: Two locations, one in La Jolla and the other in Barrio Logan, do an excellent job with carnitas. They also make excellent tortillas, which you can buy at the restaurants (calling them restaurants is a bit of a stretch,they are more like storefronts)and at the Price Club. This is likely the tortilla factory from the previous post.

        4 Replies
        1. re: buzznutter
          chilepm Apr 24, 2002 12:13 PM

          Quatro Milpas in Barrio Logan.
          A carnitas taco and a bowl of the best beans in the city; as good as a steak dinner anywhere.
          Trust me.

          1. re: chilepm
            buzznutter Apr 24, 2002 06:35 PM

            Thanks for the tip. I have eaten there many times, but never had the carnitas.

            1. re: chilepm
              zenduck Apr 30, 2002 07:57 PM

              Sounds like heaven - howzabout an address for the next time I get down to SD?

              1. re: zenduck
                phee May 2, 2002 01:22 PM

                I'm not sure if you ever got a response from the person who recommended it but check out the link below. The address is there, but if you can't get to the link, it's at 1857 Logan Avenue.

                Link: http://sandiego.citysearch.com/profil...

          2. c
            cristina Jul 6, 2002 11:11 PM

            DO NOT MISS Carnitas Uruapan on Jamacha Road. This is the genuine article, straight out of Mexico. Ordered by the kilo, the carnitas is FABULOUS. Ask for maciza rather than surtido, and prepare to grin your way home.

            4 Replies
            1. re: cristina
              ibstatguy May 5, 2007 04:05 PM

              Time to update this thread. BTW, although I've not been there and did read a good review of it, I have been told that the SD outpost of Carnitas Uruapan is not as good as the one in TJ

              1. re: ibstatguy
                Josh May 5, 2007 09:28 PM

                I've heard the same, but to me that's kind of like saying not to eat Italian food here because it's better in Italy. Carnitas Uruapan in San Diego is owned by the brother of the owner of the TJ location. People I know who have been to both generally say the TJ location is better, but that the San Diego location is still very good.

                1. re: Josh
                  ibstatguy May 6, 2007 08:54 AM

                  I guess we each need to make visits and form our own opinions then; 8035 Broadway in Lemon Grove according to Google. BTW - there seems to be one up in Santa Ana now as well

                  1. re: ibstatguy
                    DiningDiva May 6, 2007 09:19 AM

                    It may or may not be related. Uruapan is a city in the Mexican state of Michoacan. Carnitas are one of it's claims to fame. While it is entirely possible for the Carnitas Uruapan in Santa Ana to be related to the one in Tijuana, it may be more likely that it was opened by ex-pats from Michoacan or Uruapan, there is a growing community of them in OC.

            2. b
              bythenumbers May 5, 2007 04:18 PM

              I second El Cuervo. Damn fine carnitas. I have also discovered excellent carnitas at Loma Bonita. It's a small place on Scott street in Point Loma, a few blocks south of Point Loma Seafoods. Soft and crispy deliciousness. Stay away from carnitas at Santanas, they cut them into blocks which, more often than not, are mostly fat and they are always greasy. Years and years ago, Hotel Bar right under the "Gaslamp Quarter" sign made a very interesting version of carnitas cooked in a tomato based sauce that I was told was more central Mexico inspired. I really miss that place!!!

              1. h
                howbouttacos May 6, 2007 12:13 PM

                Jimmy Carter's Mexican Cafe is my favorite Mexican food at the moment. Try their daily specials. You can't go wrong. Salsa there is not my favorite but the tortillas and the carnitas poppers make up for it. Have a glass of water or milk on stand by if you opt for the poppers.

                1. d
                  daimyo Jun 15, 2007 02:05 PM

                  tried carnitas uruapan for the first time today and was disappointed. great portions, but thought the carnitas were pretty bland. i liked the texture with some crispy portions, but missed out on flavor and was a bit dry. maybe a bad day?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: daimyo
                    Cathy Jun 15, 2007 04:31 PM

                    Bad day. Go on a Sunday-most of the people who work there are Catholic and don't eat meat on Fridays and for some reason, don't cook it correctly on Friday...happened to me twice- not as good- on Fridays.

                  2. m
                    MrKrispy Jun 18, 2007 03:40 PM

                    if you are in North County check out El Nopalito just off the I-5 in Encinitas. Damn good, ask about the family platter if you have several people.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: MrKrispy
                      ibstatguy Jun 18, 2007 06:37 PM

                      which exit and east or west of 5?

                      1. re: ibstatguy
                        cgfan Jun 18, 2007 10:00 PM

                        El Nopalito is just east of I-5 at the Santa Fe exit, though I'm not a very big fan of their food. I find everything sort of lackluster, and anything that gets fried I taste the evidence of a fryer that is run too long before cutting in fresh oil...

                        1. re: cgfan
                          MrKrispy Jun 19, 2007 03:36 PM

                          they don't fry the carnitas, and that is the only thing I have ever had there so I can't comment on the rest of the food. My work dept. often has 6-15 people going and we get 'order familia' and gorge on carnitas. I definitely would love to hear about better places though!

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