Where to Find the Best Carnitas in Los Angeles

Where to Find the Best Carnitas in Los Angeles

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  1. Is your favorite Mexican restaurant a big place that serves watered-down fishbowl margaritas and mounds of gratis salty tortillas and bland chunky salsa, where three nights a week you’re serenaded by mariachis who stand three feet from your table and blow out your eardrums with blaring trumpets, where your waiter speaks with a idiosyncratic Southern Californian accent, says, “Dude,” a lot and is constantly brushing his sandy blonde hair back from his face, spilling beach sand picked up from his last session of surfing all over your table and where you can order a decent hamburger if you don’t feel like having banal enchiladas?

    If you said “yes”, you’re a sucker.

    Like with most types of ethnic foods, if you want to find the place that serves the best, most authentic food, find yourself a hole-in-the-wall filled with people of the same ethnic persuasion as that of the food.

    You may find this hard to believe (especially if you’ve ever read any of my articles, as I have a propensity for overt exaggeration if not confabulation), but my wife and I live in a predominantly Latino community not far from Downtown LA, yet we drive all the way to Pasadena whenever we want really good Mexican food. Now, this is not to say that there aren’t any great Mexican restaurants in our neighborhood, but considering that there are about five on every block, I might eat my way into an early grave before I finally locate one.

     Fortunately, a friend turned me on to Puebla Tacos restaurant years ago, and while it’s a long way to go for Mexican food, I have yet to complain even once.

    The place has six booths, three tables, no restroom and the best carnitas this side of Heaven. The pureed red salsa is fresh, spicy and delicious and the refried beans and rice are… well, refried beans and rice. I don’t know too many people who get excited over refried beans and rice (I’m sure there are a few, distinctive in that they all go by the nickname Pinto and suffer the noteworthy effects of having too much fiber in their diet), but mix them together with some of that salsa and it’s a party for your mouth. I usually order a burrito, but the carnitas combination plate—which you won’t find on the wall-mounted menu, but will get if you just ask for it—is fantastic: a generous serving of the best carnitas in this region of the Milky Way Galaxy along with cheese-covered beans and rice and garnished with sliced lettuce, raw onions and avocado. I just mix it all into one diarrheal mass that looks disgusting (I guess the word “diarrheal” conveyed that without my having to elaborate) but tastes fabulous, then drown it all in the pureed red salsa and apologize to my lower intestine for the misery it will doubtlessly face the following morning.

    Located at 700 N. Lake Ave, Pasadena, CA 91104, in a small strip mall, with the phone number of (626) 797-6884, this is a dining experience you won’t want to miss if you love great, authentic Mexican food. My one bit of advice is to get your food to go, just in case you’re overcome with the need to pee partway through your meal.

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