the spot: Carnitas El Momo 2411 Fairmount St, Los Angeles, CA 90033
the eats: Carnitas tacos
the bucks: $2.50 a taco
the full nelson: Carnitas so juicy and full of pure porcine flavor that you don’t need salsa . . .
When it comes to great tacos, you can reinvent the wheel but you sure don’t have to. Case in point: Carnitas El Momo in the historic Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles. Masters of simmering pork in lard filled copper pots for hours, Carnitas El Momo has been long considered the spot to get carnitas in Los Angeles, ever since Bill Esparza aka the Street Gourmet LA shared this find back in 2013. The internet hype train soon followed.
Finally, I got my chance to see what the buzz was all about.
Even better than crossing a legend off your Taco Bucket list is when a legendary taco addict joins you for the fun. Memo Torres, known by his social handle El Tragon de Los Angeles is part of L.A. Taco, the blog where Bang for your Burger Buck got its start. His Twitter/Instagram feeds make me miss LA even more and Carnitas El Momo is a perfect reason why.
Heaping succulent tacos for $2.50 a pop. Honestly, two will suffice but the carnitas are so good that on your first visit, I suggest getting three and taking full advantage of the Carnitas El Momo menu.
Carnitas El Momo specializes in carnitas exclusively save the weekends when they make birría, that savory meat stew that seems to be all the rage at LA Taco trucks. The column on the left breaks down the carnitas by cut. Macisa is pork shoulder aka Boston Butt, the typical cut one finds when ordering carnitas. But carnitas is not limited to that cut. It is a nose to tail affair, probably the gateway to eating offal. Buche is pork stomach and one of my all time favorite tacos. Cueritos(listed as Cuero) is skin and one incredible exercise in shameless gluttony.
Ok, you have met the players. Now it’s time to watch them play.
The first taco pictured, Macisa aka the pork shoulder is pretty much everything you would expect from pork slowly cooked in its own fat until bronzed and fall apart tender. I realize that eating eating organ meats ain’t for everybody so if you wanted to play it safe and stick with this cut at Carnitas El Momo . . . you wouldn’t be totally missing out.
The second and third tacos, Buche and Cueros, aren’t too freaky either in the grand scheme of offal eating. Buche tastes like carnitas but with a texture that has a touch of calamari chew. The Cueros is just a fattier version of the carnitas but make no mistake, you are gonna need to consider statins if you make Cueritos tacos a regular habit.
Word to the wise: go real light on the salsas. The flavor of these meats stand tall on their own. This was the first taco where I would suggest using salsa sparingly. Like bbq sauce on Texas brisket, you want the flavors of the meats to shine.
I came, I saw, I ate. And then Carnitas El Momo conquered. I now have an instant go to for the best carnitas taco when the question is ever brought up.
Pro move tip: get mixto, where all the meats are combined into one taco and dress it only with pickled jalapeño. Carnitas translates into “little meats” and true carnitas fans will begin salivating when the word is brought up. You just need to get a taste of the real deal and Carnitas El Momo is that plus at $2.50 a pop . . . some damn straight Bang for your Taco Buck.