Carnitas at El Venadito in Mexico City

Basically every carnitas joint in Mexico claims they have the best carnitas. Who can blame them? To somebody, each place DOES have the best carnitas. One of my favorite places in Mexico City, El Venadito, is no exception. This restaurant, which is a neighborhood staple and has no other locations, has been open since 1950. Like many other places, they have a sign that says “super carnitas, las mejores de México.” I will say: They are pretty spectacular, and among my top choices when I’m craving carnitas in Mexico City. After all, what place could stay open for more than six decades with signs saying they have the best carnitas if they didn’t?

Although there’s a restaurant where you can actually sit down in the back, I prefer the charming, tiny curbside taco stand. The only thing separating me from Tomás—the taquero who has been there as long as anyone I know can remember—is a window that’s about five feet high with a counter on top, so I can watch my carnitas go from being chopped to tortilla, salivating while I watch.

I always order them the same way: Surtido, which is a mix of white meat, dark meat, other parts, skin and some crunchy bits of chicharron. Top it with fresh, raw salsa verde and it’s truly a heavenly taco. If you’re squeamish about eating certain parts of the pig, you can always ask for maciza, which is white meat only.

Mexico City eats: El Venadito carnitas, Av. Universidad 1701, Col.Agrícola Chimalistac (Coyoacán) | More recommendations on… 

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Wordless Wednesday: What to eat at Lotería Grill in Los Angeles

Since moving to Los Angeles in 2013, we’ve eaten a lot of tacos. There aren’t a lot of places where we’ve returned to eat twice, but one place I like is Lotería Grill—specifically their location at the LA Farmers Market. It has a taco stand feel, the hustle and bustle of an open air market, a whimsical lotería board wall and the tacos I’ve eaten there are consistently good. I recommend this taco de carnitas, pictured below, which is made with Michoacan-style carnitas, salsa de chile morita (which is really not that spicy—although it says spicy on the menu—but is perfectly smoky), and is garnished with a slice of avocado, onion and cilantro. A few weeks ago I enjoyed lunch here with some girlfriends and couldn’t resist snapping a few photos to share.

Tacos de carnitas with a smoky morita chile salsa at Lotería Grill in Los Angeles | More Mexican food recommendations in other cities at… 

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Tacos de longaniza en salsa verde

Quick and easy meals for weeknights are essential in most households, mine included. But if you’re like me, you still want to put something at least semi-homemade on the table to please your family at dinnertime. Longaniza en salsa verde is one of my go-to dishes that’s both easy and quick to make and can also use homemade or store-bought ingredients depending on how much time you’ve got to cook.

tacos de longaniza en salsa verde

If you have the time, you can make my salsa verde recipe from scratch (but I suggest that you leave out the salt until after it’s cooked; longaniza can be rather salty so you may find you don’t need to add any salt in the salsa). If you don’t have time to make the salsa, you can use your favorite brand of store-bought salsa verde. I often serve this dish with a side of black beans diced onion and chopped cilantro as garnish…. 

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Alambre de la Patrona

This taco de alambre recipe is a Mexico City-style taco made with thinly sliced pork, bacon, chile poblano, onion and cheese.

I haven’t written much here about my favorite taquería in Chicago, La Lagartija, but have always widely recommended the place to anyone who asked me in person, on Facebook or Twitter about where to get an authentic Mexican meal in my hometown. I wasn’t exactly trying to keep it a secret, but it’s definitely a gem and I always appreciated the neighborhood charm and the way that the meseras and owners always remembered us and greeted us like family. I have so many photos of memorable meals we ate there, and it was the only place in Chicago where we’d regularly eat tacos al pastor.

RELATED RECIPE: Slow-cooker carnitas

But one of my favorite standby meals there, the alambre, is both succulent and super easy to recreate at home. This recipe is my own spin on one of their alambres. The owners are from Mexico City, and the dish on their menu is actually a version of a popular dish at one of our favorite taquerías in Mexico City, El Charco de las Ranas. This dish is also sometimes known as alambre de chuleta and is best served with warm tortillas, but you can skip the tortillas if you like and just eat it with a fork.


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Happy National Taco Day!

Because we love you, and because October 4 is National Taco Day, here are some of our favorite taco recipes from The Other Side of The Tortilla and our friends.

See below the slideshow for the links on where to find each of these 10 recipes that will make you say “Que rico.”

Happy National Taco Day

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Rajas con crema tacos from The Other Side of The Tortilla


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Tacomiendo: Carnicería Guanajuato in Chicago

I’m always on a quest for a good taco in my city, and thanks to the fact that there are tons of Mexican immigrants here, it’s not too difficult to seek out the best changarros for the most authentic tacos.

A few months ago, my friend Steve told me he knew this awesome place for tacos. Given that I have an incredibly high standard for what meets my expectations for a “good taco” or an “awesome taquería,” I usually nod and say something nice when someone tells me they had a good taco somewhere. My circle of trusted taco advisers is admittedly small. Yes, I’m a self-admitted taco snob. I bet you are, too.

But he was persistent about these tacos inside a little Mexican grocery store in his neighborhood. I’d been there before because I liked the butcher but the produce wasn’t great, so I didn’t shop there very often. And I knew I’d eaten at the taquería inside the store but I couldn’t say that I remembered it one way or the other. So we went out one Saturday morning for tacos with Steve to give it a shot.

This was the taco I ate. (OK, I ate more than one…) Mmmm, carne asada.

While not perfect (I’m not a fan of the double tortilla, for starters, and their salsa was a bit weak for my taste), I can’t list any other complaints because this taco de carne asada really hit the spot.

Two other factors won me over this time, despite being underwhelmed by my previous experience eating here. First, they’ve renovated and expanded the eating area so it’s no longer terribly cramped trying to eat lunch there (which can get pretty busy). And second, although they’ve usually got several different kinds of aguas frescas to choose from, the grocery section sometimes carries glass bottles of Yoli, a beloved Mexican lemon-lime flavored refresco. I admit I’ve been back there several times just looking for Yoli and have grabbed a taco on my way out.

There are plenty of other tacos on the menu, of course, and we’ve tried most if not all of them. José really liked the cecina. But I personally only return for the carne asada.

Carnicería Guanajuato
1436 N. Ashland Ave.
Chicago, IL 60622

  • Have you been to Carnicería Guanajuato? What’s your favorite taco there?