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East Hollywood’s New Carnitas-Only Taquería Confits Pork in Copper Cazos for Hours Until It Falls Apart in Your Mouth

[dropcap size=big]A[/dropcap] wise carnitas master in the rural town of Huandacareo, Michoacán, once said: “Hacer carnitas no es para los huevones.” (Making carnitas is not for lazy people.) A taco truth that makes Steve Livigni chuckle as he finds himself hovering over 100 pounds of pork gently confiting in its fat to give away to 50 back-of-house families via No Us Without You. They plan on providing 50 family meals to them every week.  

It’s yet another test batch of carnitas at Flaco., a new carnitas-only taqueria slated to open on the tree-lined stretch of Hollywood Boulevard east of the 101 freeway on November 2nd. 

It’s the latest venture by bartender-turned-restaurateur-turned-taquero Steve Livigni, who is also the Food and beverage partner at Hotel June, and partner in Dama and Old Lightning. This is his pivot to a sustainable restaurant concept in a city still fighting its way through a pandemic and its bureaucracy. However, where many operators are trying their hands at failproof cost-effective staples like fried chicken sandwiches and pizzas, Livigni is trying his luck with tacos. 

Livigni is not claiming to be a carnitas master or that his carnitas is more authentic over any other carnitas specialist in Los Angeles, he’s a just taco lover who has roots in the neighborhood and saw there was a need for proper, slow-cooked carnitas in the area. The carnitas style is Michoacán-meets-L.A. Livigni respects the purity of the painstaking traditional Michoacán cooking processes, meaning no boiling or roasting the meat before, and minimal ingredients to flavor the meat. 

The carnitas style is Michoacán-meets-L.A.

The recipe took him about a year and a half. He shipped all his handmade cazos, molded one hammer hit at a time from raw malleable copper from Michoacán.   

Livigni reveals that he depends on Mexican Coke and orange juice to help with the meat’s meat’s caramelization, two ingredients that are also commonly used in Michoacán. The L.A. element in these carnitas appears in the form of using black lava salt “to create a crust,” Livigni shares. He also only uses pork shoulder, pork butt, and pork ribs instead of cooking the animal’s organ meats in the same pot, with extra pork skin. This offal-and-cueritos-free product produces cleaner-tasting carnitas, known as “carnitas lite” around Michoacán. Like any good carnitas nerd who loves to obsess over its parallel with its French cooking technique of confit duck, Livigni also will offer an ultra-savory option of topping your carnitas with confit whole garlic cloves.

The minimalist taquería with an inviting hand-painted blue facade replaces an Armenian rotisserie concept. Before that, it housed an Armenian bakery that was open for 30 years. Livigni’s partners in the idea are Bart Tassy, Brandon Smith, and Jeffrey Kushon. Flaco. will have tables outside if you are eating there and will offer $40 “Flaco Box” taco kits available for take-out or delivery via Apps, including enough carnitas and guacamole to “make four people pass out.” The menu will only offer carnitas by the taco or by the pound, as well as a vegan option of purple potatoes crisped in coconut oil with a vegan cilantro crema.

Their tortillas are from Kernel of Truth Organics in Boyle Heights. 

“I think the thing that makes carnitas interesting is the dedication you have to make to the process. It’s an all-day affair with technique and finesse, and tricks and experience,” Livigni tells L.A. Taco. “I don’t have the experience, but I’m learning and working on it.” 

Flaco. is located at 5652 Hollywood Boulevard, and it is slated to open on November 2nd for service. Follow them on Instagram to find out more. They are popping up for a “Carnitas and Pineapple Highballs” event at Thunderbolt in Echo Park from 6 to 9 PM on Tuesday, October 20th.    

For the first two months, Livigni informs L.A. Taco that he will be sharing the spacious counter and kitchen at Flaco. with his friends at Stretto, a sandwich shop in downtown.   

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