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Jul 22, 2014 05:44 PM

Carnitas Snack Shack Wait Time Sunday at noon

We're coming down on Sunday from the OC. Starting at the zoo at 9am then heading up to Del Mar. We'd like to grab lunch and wanted to see if the lines would be long on Sunday around noon?

We have 2 little ones (4 and 2 year old) so not interested in waiting on line with all our travels. The other options we're looking at in the area are Pizzeria Bruno and Pizzeria Luigi. I've been to Luigi a bunch of times and it would hit the spot. Not as good as Vito's in LA but still a good NY slice. Anybody have other good suggestions near the Zoo?

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  1. Well, if you get there right at noon when they open, their won't be much of a wait.

    But on the weekends, the wait generally varies from 30-45 minutes.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ipsedixit

      Thanks we'll try to go there right when it opens. We're anticipating a decent amount of Del Mar traffic. We realized Comic Con was this weekend so we're going to give it a go this weekend.

      Pizza is an easy choice with the kids but Hillcrest looks good.

    2. You can always call ahead and order to go! Love the food but have never once eaten at the shack (of course I only live a mile away)

      There are a million great places near the zoo - ie: Hillcrest! Want a great fish taco? Try Mama Testa's (won Bobby Flay's throwdown) - I think they are over priced but you're on vacation and its a nice causal place for kiddos.

      Heard good things about Bruno's but never actually been .. Born in NY so don't really eat pizza in Cali. Stick with the Mexican food ;-)

      1. Great Maple is a good breakfast/lunch place for kids. It's loud so it drowns out any misbehavior :) And the food is good. You can make a res on Opentable too so no waiting.
        (parent of a toddler, so I get it)
        If you're thinking Luigi's, Alchemy nearby is also good-- not as good as it used to be, but generally solid and you can actually sit down and chill. They love kids there. Bueno Forchetta too, but I can't remember if they have lunch on the weekends or not. Station Tavern is the classic kids spot in South Park (with play area) but they only have burgers, really. Good beer though.
        Make sure you leave plenty of time for Del Mar traffic, ugh.

        1 Reply
        1. re: strideam

          Make sure you leave plenty of time for Del Mar traffic, ugh.

          Or just downtown traffic in/around Balboa (and the zoo).

          Apparently, there's some sort of convention in town this weekend, I hear. Something about comics ...

        2. Generally, you're better off showing up around ten or fifteen minutes before they open to keep the wait down (to ten or fifteen minutes). The food is awesome, but I'm not sure that CSS would appeal to kids - the portions are too big. That said, the seating will work for kids.

          1. We went today for lunch (Monday). We arrived at 11:50 and there were exactly 12 people ahead of us in line. We ordered at 12:15 and received our first plates around 12:20. Since they have a very small menu it didn't take long for the dishes to come out. It also looked like they have 8 or so people in that kitchen which has to be a fire hazard. We left at 12:40 and the line was 15 people. If anybody finds a San Diego Zoo commemorative penny book please let me know. My 2 year old daughter lost it and we have no idea where it went.

            There is much more outdoor seating than you think when you first walk up. We liked the outdoor seating area.

            The food was excellent. The carnitas tacos for $7.50 was a steal considering how much meat was in each taco. I felt like this was more pulled pork than taco but splitting hairs. Moist, delicious and porky without being greasy. The guacamole and salsa were a perfect pairing.

            My wife loved the beet terrine with goat cheese, radish and frisee. She said it was the best beet salad/appetizer she has ever had. She literally orders a beet dish at almost every restaurant menu we see beets and we've been to a lot of restaurants so take it for what its worth. A nicely composed salad that had a good portion of goat cheese in every bite. Beets alone were delicious.

            The burger was a tad over cooked but had great flavors. Not too fussy with a great char on the outside. Still juicy and easy to eat. We enjoyed the cheddar and bacon jam. I didn't notice the aioli for better or worse.

            As others have mentioned the fries were just ok. With all the effort they make with their own ketchup and all the other great cooked meat I was kinda expecting some excellent thick cut double cooked fries in duck fat but this is just a shack.

            1 Reply
            1. re: js76wisco

              Great review, js76.

              Too bad about losing that special penny.