Essential T: Pig-Ear Tacos at Carnitas Los 3 Puerquitos

Authentic <em>carnitas</em> are getting easier and easier to find

The very best Mexican foods start with the letter T—tacos, tortas, tlayudas. Here we showcase the tastiest “T” bites from the streets of L.A. 

There has been a carnitas explosion here in L.A. over the past few years. The boiled pork, which is usually fried into a stringy, flavorless taco filler, has been replaced with authentic carnitas that are slowly cooked in a traditional large copper or stainless-steel pot, confit-style, and then fried in pork fat low and slow. Carnitas are usually head-to-tail affairs in Mexico, which isn’t always the case here in town due to the prohibitive cost of whole hogs for small businesses.  

True carnitas lovers have to travel around a bit to find some of their favorite cuts at stands like Carnitas Los 3 Puerquitos (3 Little Pigs) in the South Figueroa Corridor, where you’ll enjoy some of the best pig-ear dishes in town. You’ll have to get to here early to get the ears, which are cooked until they are sweet, sticky pieces that melt in your mouth. The carnitas follow the Michoacan-style preparation, which invovles a tub of dark, sweetened pork lard for frying seasoned cuts of pig, and they are very good. The Carnitas Los 3 Puerquitos trailer is parked in a corner lot with picnic-bench seating, an aluminum awning, and enough barbed wire atop the fence to keep away the big bad wolf. Carnitas Los 3 Puerquitos, corner of Wadsworth and Vernon Avenues, South Figueroa Corridor, 323-369-3111, Wednesday through Sunday (morning and afternoon)