omg those look 5/7 amazing. are they crisp afterwards or do they just appear so?
A Taco Journey: Carne Asada, Al Pastor, Pacific Spiny Lobster, and more - Leo's Tacos #2, Tire Shop Tacos, Revolutionario, Ricky's Fish Tacos, Guerilla, BS Taqueria and more!
Great breakfast burrito (pork ear and stomach).
Nothing like starting off the day with some cartilage and innards.
Is stomach ‘buche’? I LOVE fried strips of pork ear.
What kind of meat is that?
But this place also does beef/“res” as well
I might just hit this up this weekend
i finally tried mariscos jaliscos with the fried shrimp taco. i was underwhelmed. it was like eating a taquito (sp?).
it may not be worth a drive across town, but if you’re in the pasadena area, the arturo’s truck at fair oaks & bellevue (tire store parking lot) is one of my main go-to’s.
asada, buche & cabesa before (beans are complimentary)
and after the DIY salsa bar which includes radishes, cilantro, onions, etc.
The off menu Poseidon Tostada IMO is a must at Mariscos Jalisco. Very tasty.
Excellent, I drive past there everyday for work. Was wondering if they were worth a damn, figured they had to be alright at least. Will check out later this week.
A few of our friends had the urge to grab some Tacos, and so, another Taco journey was born. First stop…
A huge thanks to @JeetKuneBao for the early report, La Unica is a colorful, new Taco truck specializing in Birria de Chivo y de Res (Stewed Goat and Beef).
The place was very well kept and clean, and they featured 6 Handmade Salsas which were all delightful. My favorites were the Salsa de Arbol (with Chile de Arbol) and the Salsa de Aceite, which was very much like a Chinese Chile Oil style condiment.
Consome de Birria (Goat Consomme):
Their Goat Consomme was thankfully not overly salty, lightly spicy and spiked with plenty of Cilantro and Onions, with a delicate gaminess from the Goat base. Delicious.
Birria de Chivo Taco (Stewed Goat Taco):
We started with their basic Birria de Chivo Taco, and the Stewed Goat meat was very tender, lightly gamy and still meaty. Their Handmade Tortillas were medium-thick and it made a huge difference in the taste of these Tacos.
Cachete Taco (Beef Cheek Taco):
La Unica also features Stewed Beef Cheeks which sounded amazing! I love a good Beef Daube at French restaurants, and wanted to see what it was like in Taco form. The Beef Cheeks were soft, tender, moist and a nice change from the usual chewier Beef Tacos.
Birria de Chivo Quesataco (Stewed Goat Quesataco):
But it’s all about this awesome creation - the Quesataco - that is the reason to go to La Unica: @JeetKuneBao was right! It’s this incredible hybrid of a Quesadilla and a Taco, slightly crisped on the outside, for a subtle crunch, with a gooey, cheesy interior with tender Stewed Goat meat.
It was SO addicting!
They were incredible!
Birria de Chivo Vampiros (Stewed Goat Vampiros):
Lastly, we tried their Vampiros (a completely crisped up flat Tortilla, topped with melted Cheese and Stewed Goat). This was totally crunchy (a hard crunchy) giving way to the melted Cheese and the tender Stewed Goat. And it was also delicious!
Between all of them, we liked the Quesataco with Birria de Chivo the most, but they were all very good offerings.
(in front of the Dollar Tree store)
2850 E. Olympic Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90023
Tel: (323) 715-4025
Thanks to @Srsly, we decided to head over to try 2 other Birria specialists, the first being Birrieria Gonzalez, which makes a Birria de Res (Stewed Beef) Tijuana style. We were slightly disappointed to find out that this place only makes Birria de Res (Beef) and not Birria de Chivo (Goat), so it’s not really an apples-to-apples comparison with La Unica.
Consome de Res (Beef Consomme):
Their Beef Consomme was extremely salty. Nearly inedible, with La Unica’s being much more balanced and enjoyable.
Birria de Res Taco (Stewed Beef Taco):
This was juicy, tender, and thankfully nowhere near as salty as their Consomme that it was cooked in. It was still a touch salty, but also nicely savory and flavorful.
2524 Maple Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90011
Teddy’s Red Tacos
Another Birria de Res specialist, Teddy’s Red Tacos has no menu: You just walk up and order, and it seems everyone there ordered their Birria de Res (Stewed Beef) in either Taco or Quesadilla form.
Birria de Res Consome (Stewed Beef Consomme):
Teddy’s Red Tacos’ Consomme was much more balanced than Birrieria Gonzalez’ version, and between the 2, everyone liked Teddy’s Red Tacos’ Consomme more (and it was actually drinkable). The Oregano and Chile blend were the most prominent without overpowering each sip.
Birria de Res Taco (Stewed Beef Taco):
The Stewed Beef was quite tender, but it tasted a little flat / basic; we didn’t really taste any of the herb notes that we got from the Consomme itself. We all liked Birreria Gonzalez’ Birria Taco more at this point in the journey.
Birria de Res Quesadilla (Stewed Beef Quesadilla):
These were much better, the crisped outside Tortilla with plenty of gooey, melted Cheese with the Stewed Beef made each bite much more dynamic and enjoyable.
Teddy’s Red Tacos
731 Slauson Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90011
Barbacoa Estilo Hidalgo Stand
As we were heading to our next planned stop, this new stand caught our eye, Barbacoa Estilo Hidalgo. It was operated by a husband and wife team, and we were hopeful that this might be something nice.
This place specializes in Barbacoa de Borrego (Roasted Lamb), giving away the Lamb Consomme with each order of the Roasted Lamb itself. Unfortunately their Lamb Consomme was way too salty. As salty as Birrieria Gonzalez.
Maciza Taco (Lamb Shoulder Taco):
This was just really salty; to the point of being inedible, which is unfortunate because we were really hoping this would be good.
Costilla Taco (Roasted Lamb Rib Taco):
Like the Maciza, this was just extremely salty. There was no other way to describe it.
Barbacoa Estila Hidalgo Stand
Corner of Slauson Ave. & S. Central Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90011
Barbacoa y Birria Estilo Taxco Guerrero (Revisit)
After trying La Unica, we had to go back to our current favorite - Barbacoa y Birria Estilo Taxco Guerrero - to see how it compared.
Birria de Chivo y Consome (Stewed Goat with Goat Consomme):
You order by the pound (or half pound) and they serve whatever you order with their Goat Consomme. Taking a sip: So balanced, just enough gaminess, some nice hints of Oregano and a light heat from the Chilies, but not too salty or heavy handed. It’s just got a real, long-stewed taste to it.
Maciza Birria de Chivo Taco (Stewed Goat Shoulder Taco):
This was the leanest cut of Birria that we had from Barbacoa y Birria Estilo Taxco Guerrero, but it was still quite tender, moist and meaty.
Their Handmade Tortillas are on the thinner side, but still delicious.
Costilla Birria de Chivo Taco (Stewed Goat Rib Taco):
Their Goat Rib Taco was delicious! It lacked the soft cartilage that we love in the Barbacoa de Borrego Costilla or Carnitas Costilla Tacos, but it was still quite flavorful, moist and tender.
Pata Birria Taco (Stewed Goat Foot Taco):
Fantastic! There were nice pieces of juicy Stewed Goat meat, mixed with bits of soft cartilage.
Pancita Birria Taco (Goat Stomach, Organs Blend):
For all the Offal lovers out there, their Pancita Taco was potent! Earthy, funky, metallic (from the Liver), but also with a nice savory quality.
Everyone agreed that Barbacoa y Birria Estilo Taxco Guerrero was their favorite of the Birria Tacos we had this time, just perfectly seasoned, bright, gamy, juicy, tender.
Saturday & Sundays Only
7:00 a.m. - Until sold out (usually by 2:00 p.m.).
Barbacoa y Birria Estilo Taxco Guerrero
5609 McKinley Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90011
Unnamed Taco Stand
One thing we love about the City of Angels are the upstart eateries that sprout up all over the city. The ones from families just trying to make a living, who decide to cook up dishes based on their family recipes, which end up tasting like magic.
We were in the middle of a Taco journey with friends, when we suddenly spotted a new Taco Stand with a little flag waving in the wind simply stating “CARNITAS”.
Walking up, we saw a line of people and thought, “This might be good! If there’s a line, they must be doing something right.”
The Taco stand has no name. It is run by a family, serving their Homemade Carnitas on Saturdays and Sundays only. The friendly young man chopping up and slinging the Tacos is called George. He explains his mother cooks up the Carnitas based on family recipes. His father is the Chicharron maker, and his little brother helps collect the cash.
Looking at the menu, they serve 11 (Eleven!) types of Carnitas. This was exciting.
You can order Carnitas by the Pound (a mix and match and choose whatever you want from the 11 types of Carnitas), or get any of them in Taco form for $1.
Maciza Carnitas (Braised Pork Shoulder) Taco:
One interesting thing that George and the Unnamed Taco Stand does is finish off the Carnitas on the flattop, searing it before serving.
For the Maciza Carnitas Taco, it is touch dry (but still somewhat moist), but it’s perfectly seasoned, tasting really fresh and porky.
Buche Carnitas (Braised Pork Stomach) Taco:
Juicy with a nice gentle chew, the Buche Carnitas are some of the best Braised Pork Stomach Tacos we’ve had recently.
Cueritos Carnitas (Braised Pork Skin) Taco:
And then you get to the Cueritos Carnitas Taco: Luscious, fresh, pure porky goodness! These were absolutely delicious and not overly salty (like some places). Outstanding!
Oreja Carnitas (Braised Pork Ears) Tacos:
And it gets better: Their Oreja Carnitas Taco has the luscious, alluring qualities of the Cueritos Carnitas (Braised Pork Skin), but now with a little bit of tender, subtle crunch from the cartilage, slowly cooked to tender perfection!
This was my favorite of the Tacos this visit! SO GOOD!
On this 1st visit, they were sold out of most of their 11 types of Carnitas by 2:00 p.m. (when we arrived), so we had to go back and try some more and see how consistent they were.
We were greeted by a stunning sight, as George’s father was making a fresh batch of Chicharron (Deep Fried Pork Skin)!
@PorkyBelly and other Pork lovers, just look at that beautiful hue, fresh out of the fryer:
George was already busy chopping up and preparing orders for the families ahead of us:
Rinon Carnitas (Braised Pork Kidney) Taco:
This is the first time we’ve tried Rinon, let alone in a slow-braised Carnitas preparation, as we’ve never seen this offered around town (@Dommy or others let me know if you know of other places).
It was a bit funky, earthy, dryish but not as metallic as something like Liver. Speaking of which…
George was nice enough to include a few small pieces of Higado Carnitas (Braised Pork Liver)… which tasted just like Liver - metallic, earthy, funky - but one of our friends liked it (but then again they love Offal a lot).
Corazon Carnitas (Braised Pork Heart) Taco:
This was meaty, a bit denser than the Maciza (Pork Shoulder), but more tender than, say, Chicken Heart or Beef Heart dishes in general.
Trompa Carnitas (Braised Pork Snout) Taco:
Their Trompa Carnitas were fantastic! It has a bit more of the porcine flavor coming through than many of the other cuts, but it still has a bit of the lush qualities of Cuerito or Oreja, with some of the cartilage crunch. Everyone liked these and chose it as one of their top cuts here.
Lengua Carnitas (Braised Pork Tongue) Taco:
I love Lengua de Res (Beef Tongue) preparations in general, but this was a treat seeing Braised Pork Tongue Tacos. It was tender with some crispy edges due to the flattop searing, and probably as good as the Maciza in some ways.
Costilla Carnitas (Braised Pork Ribs) Taco:
Costilla is usually our favorite cut at most Carnitas specialists, so we were really looking forward to this. Unfortunately, due to the flattop searing, it stayed on the flattop too long, and was dryish, but with great flavor, not too salty, and it tasted really fresh.
Next time, we’ll ask George to just quickly take it off the flattop early, or just enjoy it without the sear, because the cut of Costilla we saw looked very moist and tender (pre-sear).
Chicharron (Deep Fried Pork Skin):
For all of you Pork Rinds / Chicharron fans, look no further than the fresh-fried Chicharron from George’s father:
Super crispy, light as a feather, crunchy and SO SO GOOD! It was just happiness in a bite.
For Chicharron, you can order whatever size piece you want, they’ll break it up for you.
Also the winning combination is asking George to crumble some of the freshly fried Chicharron on top of your Carnitas Tacos!
You get that magic of luscious porkiness (in cuts like the Cuerito or Oreja or Trompa) with some crunchy porky bits from the Chicharron.
Patas Carnitas (Braised Pork Foot) Taco:
We’ve only seen Patas Carnitas offered at 2 other places around LA / OC, so we were excited to get to try this on this visit (they were sold out last time).
First, there is only 1 size order: The entire Braised Pork Foot. They just give you this hunk of slow-braised Patas and you’re just going to get messy.
But it was delicious. I blame 2 of my Taiwanese friends in college for introducing me to Chinese-style Stewed Pork Foot preparations and from that point on, I was hooked. This slow-braised Carnitas-style Pork Foot is tender, gelatinous on the outer skin (so you get some Cueritos Carnitas basically), along with the morsels of lean Pork meat, and some tender cartilage. Delicious!
As we were eating we overheard some of the families ordering “Birria”(!). So we asked George if they served that, and he confirmed that they also happen to make some Birria de Res (Spicy Stewed Beef) on the side (another of his mother’s recipes).
With their Carnitas tasting so fresh and delicious, we had to give this a try as well…
Birria de Res (Spicy Stewed Beef) y Consomé:
First, a sip of their Consomé, and it was outstanding! Clean, fresh-tasting, balanced with medium heat (maybe some Chile de Arbol & Jalapeno level), it was the best Birria de Res Consomé that we’ve ever had. We were shocked.
They give you ample amounts of the Spicy Stewed Beef itself in each order, so we made some Birria de Res Tacos out of it. The Beef was tender, meaty, and just like everything else, tasting super fresh (made that day). Definitely our favorite Birria de Res that I can remember.
The Unnamed Taco Stand was a great surprise for us: A Carnitas specialist offering 11 types of Carnitas, with some rarer cuts you almost never see in many stands around the city. Our favorites were the Cueritos Carnitas (Braised Pork Skin), Oreja Carnitas (Braised Pork Ears) and Trompa Carnitas (Braised Pork Snout) Tacos, as well as the Patas Carnitas (Braised Pork Foot).
In terms of overall deliciousness, Villa Moreliana is still our favorite Carnitas specialist in the city, and their Costilla Carnitas (Braised Pork Ribs) and many other cuts edge out this Unnamed Taco Stand.
However, if you’re in the area, or just don’t want to fight the Grand Central Market terrible parking / crowds, then you might give this Carnitas specialist a try. The fact that George and his family serve some of the freshest, best Chicharron (Deep Fried Pork Skin) and Birria de Res (Spicy Beef Stew) that we’ve had in recent memory makes it more even more enticing.
Saturday & Sunday Only
9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. (or until sold out).
Unnamed Taco Stand
(Across from Northgate Gonzalez Market & CVS)
961 Slauson Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90011
Villa Moreliana (Revisit)
After trying out that Unnamed Carnitas Stand, we had to see how it compared with our front-runner Villa Moreliana at Grand Central Market.
Villa Moreliana finished a slight remodel, with a nicer sign and menu, and more countertop space. Curiously, they have hidden their best cut of Carnitas - Costillas (Ribs) - (it’s not listed on the menu), but they tend to sell out of it each day according to our server.
Chamorro Carnitas Taco (Braised Pork Picnic Taco):
We’ve never had their Chamorro Tacos before, but unfortunately this is the one bad cut at Villa Moreliana that we’ll skip from now on: The Pork Picnic meat is just super lean and dry.
Corazon y Oreja Carnitas Taco (Braised Pork Heart and Pork Ears Taco):
If you didn’t know, Villa Moreliana allows you to mix-and-match 2 different cuts of Carnitas in each Taco if you want. (Their Tacos are so large, there is ample room to try 2 types of meats and get enough of each flavor.)
We wanted to try their Corazon Carnitas, since it was a rarer cut. Their Braised Pork Heart was moister than the Unnamed Carnitas Stand on Slauson, tasting very fresh and meaty, with a slight chew.
But when mixed with their Oreja Carnitas (Braised Pork Ears), you get this incredible balance of slightly crunchy (from the soft cartilage), lusciousness from the Braised Pork Skin, and meatiness from the Corazon (Heart).
Patitas Carnitas Taco (Braised Pork Foot Taco):
Finally! Every single time we’ve gone to Villa Moreliana they have always sold out of their Patitas Carnitas, but this time, we showed up earlier, and they had it!
Hopefully the pics capture it, but just look at the gigantic glorious slab of Braised Pork Foot! Like the Unnamed Carnitas Stand on Slauson, they sell the Patitas as the entire Pork Foot. It is huge, but when you bite into it with some of the Cueritos (Braised Pork Skin) naturally surrounding it, then some morsels of tender lean Braised Pork meat, as well as bits of tender cartilage, it is… magic!
Villa Moreliana remains our favorite Carnitas specialist in LA/OC, consistently delivering tender, fresh, perfectly seasoned Carnitas (with 11 different cuts).
(at Grand Central Market)
317 S. Broadway St.
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Tel: (213) 725-0848
A big thanks to @ipsedixit for the info, we decided to visit one final shop on this journey, also specializing in Carnitas. They sell the Carnitas by the pound (or half pound). But they only offer 2 types of Carnitas here, with a 3rd type (Costillas) only on weekends.
Most of the week, they offer either Maciza Carnitas (Braised Pork Shoulder) or Buche Carnitas (Braised Pork Stomach). We asked them to do a mix of both for us.
The Maciza and Buche Carnitas blend was very tasty! It is prepared in a Michoacan style according to our server. There’s an incredible, long-stewed taste, with a deep savoriness, a nice balance of meaty bites with a soft, gelatinous quality (from the Buche (Braised Pork Stomach)), that even if you’re not an Offal fan (I’m not), it’s still quite enjoyable.
Taqueria Periban is a gem of a place, and definitely worth a stop if you’re in the area and craving flavorful Maciza & Buche Carnitas.
2129 Chico Ave.
South El Monte, CA 91733
Tel: (626) 444-6923
Where do people park when going to GCM? The few times I’ve tried going, I gave up after circling the blocks several times.
The attached parking garage
what??? where is the entrance to the garage?
Not sure off the top of my head but it’s on the webpage. Costs a few bucks but way better than finding street.
It’s easy to miss but it’s right next to the entrance to the market on hill street. There’s basically always parking.
this could be a game changer. Thanks!
a compact car would be best. those spots at the GCM are tiiiiight!
I have an office downtown, so I just walk from there.
Better just to Uber it.