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The Best Carnitas Served in Los Angeles Today

Who's getting my Sabrosa Estrellas rating?

By Laurelle F. Johnson
Published on LatinoLA: March 8, 2010


The Best Carnitas Served in Los Angeles Today


Carnitas in Los Angeles

As a child in Mexico City I was served every style of Mexican food cooked in our kitchen: empanadas, pollo, carne asada, rice, beans, plantains, etc. But NOTHING and I mean NOTHING compared to the taste of fresh tortillas from the tortilla factory around the corner from our apartment. Our criada would carry a cloth-covered basket and a small black coin purse, grab my hand (I was only 5) and take me to the corner tortilla factory. While we stood in line I would watch in wonder as the tortillas were placed on a conveyor belt after being 'slapped' by the strong hands of the 'fabricantes.' The belt would carry flat, wet tortillas up towards a hole near the ceiling, disappear behind a wall, through the stove and then back down towards us, hot, puffy and delicious. It was magic!

Our criada would take 2 out of our basket and have the local food cart fill each with carnitas. One bite into the tortilla and I was transported to heaven. This is the experience I look for every time I enter a Mexican food joint in Los Angeles and give their carnitas a try.

Here are two of my favorites:

Poquito Mas - Sherman Oaks - Dos Sabrosa Estrellas

I often skip lunch just so I can bee bop down to Poquito Mas in Sherman Oaks, order to go and eat on the way to picking up Daughter #2 at school. When she gets in she can smell the wonderful smell and says, "Hey, where is my burrito?" I hand one over to her and she smiles in extreme pleasure. Puts her in a good mood the rest of the day.

Hot fresh Mexican/American food is their pervue and they cook it up fresh everyday. The carnitas are tender, well-cooked and not too greasy. SABROSA is the word I use as they are not mixed with lots of salsa or other some such cover up sauce. Several all over LA.

La Luz del Dia - Olvera Street - Tres Sabrosa Estrellas

My mother loved Mexico with all her heart and when not traveling through the country, she would trek down to Olvera Street, with us in tow, for a bit of authentic Mexican food. After trying all the various restaurants on the street she declared "La Luz Del Diaz" the best. The atmosphere was 'very public Mexican marketplace' and the food home cooked.

It became a habit that we would go there every Sunday night. We had the place to ourselves, the owner would flirt with my mother and we would gobble up the extra portions he served us along with the best rice, beans and guacamole going. We would leave the place beyond full and drop into a deep sleep on the drive home.

A recent trip to Olvera Street showed me the the place nor the food has changed. The carnitas are still the juciest, cooked slow overnight. They are so tender that the women behind the glass counter serve them up by hand as a fork makes them fall apart - as carnitas should be. The tortillas are thick and warm and puffed up as in Mexico. TRIPLE SABROSA is the rating on these puppies. Ordered with or without beans, rice, salsa and guacamole.

About Laurelle F. Johnson:
Laurelle is a foodie who explores her native Los Angeles from a sabrosa point of view. She has developed her own Uno, Dos, Tres Sabrosa Estrella rating for her favorite foods and eateries.
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