For those not in the know, carnitas is a very popular way to cook and serve pork throughout Mexico, but particularly in the states of Jalisco and Michoacán. The pork is usually simmered, spiced heavily and then braised or roasted for 8-10 hours, making the meat very tender and easy to pull apart. They can be eaten by themselves, but are most frequently enjoyed in tacos, and garnished with homemade salsas of varying degrees of spiceyness, and a bit of freshly-squeezed lime juice. Carnitas are usually sold by the kilo at restaurants and mercados, and all the trimmings (tortillas and salsa) are often included, making this a great take-home option if you don’t feel like cooking. That said, the best way to enjoy tacos de carnitas is at a taquería, or restaurant that serves them. And even better than that, there is nothing like savoring them standing up, at a taco stand (tacos parados, or standing tacos, we call them!).
Ever since I remember, Joel Hernández has been serving amazing tacos de carnitas at this stand on the intersection of Lázaro Cárdenas and Aguacate, in my own neighborhood. He is only open during the daytime, starting before noon and going until he runs out of meat, which usually happens by 1:30 pm, particularly on Sundays. In a recent visit, I enjoyed two tacos and a soda for less than $30 pesos, making this a very affordable option. It is also possible to purchase carnitas in bulk here, in case you wish to take them home.
What to get?
It is often said that when a pork is cooked to make carnitas, no part of the animal is wasted! If this sounds daunting, asking for tacos de maciza or tacos de carne will ensure that you will get meat portions of the pork you are familiar with. On the other hand, tacos surtidos or tacos combinados are served with… well, all sorts of pork body parts!
Tacos de Carnitas, Joel Hernández
Aguacate & Lázaro Cárdenas, Col. Emiliano Zapata