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Boyle Heights

The Top Five Carnitas in L.A.

Carnitas El Momo

Quick Summary1. Carnitas El Momo -- Master Artisan

2. B.S. Taqueria -- Quality pork : tortillas : salsa: soul

3. Los Guichos -- Weekend Warriors

4. Los 5 Puntos -- A Boyle Heights staple

5. Metro Balderas -- Traditional D.F. Carnitas w/ a variety of pig parts.

1. Carnitas El Momo

If you want the best carnitas in LA, drive, bike or crawl over to Carnitas El Momo. The first bite of these moist, succulent, Guanajuato-style carnitas will put you in a trance, where your eyelids shut involuntarily and everything around you, including your mind, goes silent. You'll then ride waves of anger and regret after realizing how and why it took you so long to experience something so magical and yet so close by. Finally, you'll be blanketed with a warm, euphoric feeling upon recognizing that you've struck carnitas gold, and that you can get it by the pound for you and your loved ones year-round.

Carnitas El Momo (5)
Carnitas El Momo

What makes these slow-cooked cuts of pork so special and unique is that they're made in large traditional cazos (copper pots) by carnitas artisan Romulo "Momo" Acosta. The only other places that I've heard/know of where you can find this expert-level of craft carnitas are in Guanajuato, Michoacan and surrounding states in Central Mexico. Early weekend mornings and pork--it doesn't get much better.

There's gold in them there cazos.

What to order: The 'Aporkalypse Taco', a mix of macisa (pork shoulder), buche (hog maw) and cueritos (pig skin).

Note: Although they do offer some killer red and green salsas, may I suggest trying at least one combo taco with nothing but a pickled jalapeno on the side to get the full carnitas experience.

Locations:

61st St. & Avalon Bl. - Saturdays and Sundays, 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Alameda St. & 132nd St. (Saturdays only) 9 a.m. to 3:30p.m.
12th St. & Stanford Ave. (Wednesdays only) 11:30 to 3:30 p.m.

2. B.S. TAQUERIA

Listing the best places to get carnitas in LA would be impossible to do without including B.S. Taqueria--funny since it's only been open since April of this year. Despite their brief history in Downtown LA, these carnitas by Chef Ray Garcia have already made a lasting impression on my taco life.

BS Taqueria (4)
Tacos at BS Taqueria

These tacos are aesthetically easy on the eyes, have incredibly moist, tender and stewy carnitas. Combine that with the most highly addictive salsa verde ever and these are some seriously memorable tacos. Having all that piled high on imported, Non-GMO handmade tortillas doesn't hurt either.

These carnitas tacos simply make me happy to exist... in LA.

Note: Try one of their specialty cocktails.

514 W. 7th St. Downtown Los Angeles - Lunch 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. M-F, Dinner 5:30 to 11 p.m. nightly

3. Los Guichos -- (Weekends Only)

Tacos at Los Guichos
Tacos at Los Guichos

Another stand that's been serving some really good, slow-braised Mexico City-Style carnitas in LA is Tacos Los Guichos. It's not difficult to spot their two giant, stainless steel cazos (vats) bubbling with a medley of pork parts like macisa (shoulder), costillas (ribs), oreja (ear) and cueritos (skin) on the southwest corner of Slauson and Avalon. If you arrive early enough, around 8 am, you can witness these insanely tender cuts being chopped up (not too finely--which is perfect) and served to the hungry crowds patiently waiting around picnic tables.

Note: Los Guichos' carnitas at E&D Car Wash/Window Tinting shop only sets up on Saturdays and Sundays.

584 E. Slauson Ave. Los Angeles 90011 (8 a.m. until they sell out).

4. Los Cinco Puntos (A Boyle Heights Staple)

As soon as you walk into Los Cinco Puntos, the first couple of things you'll notice is the chopping of succulent, slow-cooked meats and fresh, thick, hand-formed corn tortillas being made on an enormous flattop.

Los Cinco Puntos (6)
Taco at Los Cinco Puntos

Their moist, rich and tender carnitas are braised in a large traditional cazo (pot) -- unlike a lot of places throughout LA where they boil the pork (shoulder-only), then fry it to achieve somewhat of a golden color. You can either get the more well-known macisa(shoulder), or cuertios (skin) and buche (hog's maw) tacos or order by the pound.

Note: The best way to enjoy these carnitas tacos is by having them topped with their hottest salsa, guacamole and nopales (cactus).

3300 E. Cesar E Chavez Ave (Mon-Sun. 8 a.m - 6 p.m.) -- Closed Wednesday

5. Metro Balderas (Weekends Only)

Metro Balderas
Tacos from Metro Balderas

If you're in the Northeast L.A. area and are craving some traditional, slow-cooked, ridiculously tender carnitas made in a cazo Mexico City style, this is the place to go. Arrive early on Saturday or Sunday, as I hear they sell out rather quickly. Their surtido (mix) of salty, tender skin, snout, ear, stomach and shoulder can be ordered in taco form or by the pound.

Note: Also try their Huarache surtido (Fried oblong-shaped masa topped with an assortment of carnitas)

Tacos from Metro Balderas
Tacos from Metro Balderas
Tacos from Metro Balderas
Los Guichos
Los Guichos
Los Guichos
Tacos at Los Guichos
Tacos at Los Guichos
Tacos at Los Guichos
Los Guichos
Los Guichos
Los Guichos
Los Guichos
Los Guichos
Los Guichos
Cazo at Los Guichos
Cazo at Los Guichos
Cazo at Los Guichos
Taco at Los Cinco Puntos
Taco at Los Cinco Puntos
Taco at Los Cinco Puntos
Taco at Los Cinco Puntos
Taco at Los Cinco Puntos
Taco at Los Cinco Puntos
Taco at Los Cinco Puntos
Taco at Los Cinco Puntos
Taco at Los Cinco Puntos
Tacos at Los Cinco Puntos
Tacos at Los Cinco Puntos
Tacos at Los Cinco Puntos
Taco at Los Cinco Puntos
Taco at Los Cinco Puntos
Taco at Los Cinco Puntos
Tacos at Los Cinco Puntos
Tacos at Los Cinco Puntos
Tacos at Los Cinco Puntos
Carnitas El Momo
Carnitas El Momo
Carnitas El Momo
Carnitas El Momo
Carnitas El Momo
Carnitas El Momo
Carnitas El Momo
Carnitas El Momo
Carnitas El Momo
Carnitas El Momo
Carnitas El Momo
Carnitas El Momo
Carnitas El Momo
Carnitas El Momo
Carnitas El Momo
Carnitas El Momo
Carnitas El Momo
Carnitas El Momo
Your order is ready at Carnitas El Momo
Your order is ready at Carnitas El Momo
Your order is ready at Carnitas El Momo
Holding a taco from Carnitas El Momo
Holding a taco from Carnitas El Momo
Holding a taco from Carnitas El Momo
The main event at Carnitas El Momo
The main event at Carnitas El Momo
The main event at Carnitas El Momo
Tacos at BS Taqueria
Tacos at BS Taqueria
Tacos at BS Taqueria
Tacos at BS Taqueria
Tacos at BS Taqueria
Tacos at BS Taqueria
Tacos at BS Taqueria
Tacos at BS Taqueria
Tacos at BS Taqueria

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