Despite my best efforts, I was forced to return to the same lard-filled well for this week’s Dose of Vitamin P. On June 22, the Highland Park link in Abraham Guzman’s Mexico City-inspired chain delivered Costillitas en Salsa Verde. However, the dish on the photo menu that had us drooling was only available on weekends: carnitas.
On August 8, Aztec suns shined on us inside the Northridge branch of Metro Balderas as I split a massive Orden de Carnitas Estilo Balderas ($7.50) featuring tufts of crisp-edged shoulder meat that had been cooked in its own fat. Everybody who’s ever eaten carnitas has seen that cut, but I also received smaller portions of buche (stomach), trompa (lips), lengua (tongue) and oreja (ear). The double-lined strips of tan stomach were nice and tender, the cuts of tongue were melt-in-your-mouth and the hacks of lip meat were gelatinous, infused with hog fat and not for the meek. Only the ear offered any resistance. The tile-cuts featured an inner lining of crunchy cartilage. So I could form my own tacos, Metro Balderas included diced onions, cilantro and a stack of thick corn tortillas that wouldn’t win any prizes.
I raided the salsa bar, which featured a trio of vivid salsas: somewhat spicy tomatillo-jalapeno, tangier, smokier tomatillo-chile de arbol, and the mildest salsa yet, featuring pico de gallo mixed with chile de arbol.
Was this the best carnitas of my life? No, and it didn’t come close to matching the best Southern-style pulled pork, but the order was still flavorful and offered amazing value.
Dose of Vitamin P spotlights my favorite pork dish from the previous week.