Jan. 2 2012 05:44 PM

One of North Park's newest stops serves delicious bits of porcine greatness

carnitassnackshacknorthpark
The Pork Sand
Photo by Marie Tran-McCaslin

I received one of those letters a while ago—the one from my doctor that very politely told me to get off my ass and eat healthier because my cholesterol level needed improvement. Since this is my second consecutive column on pork, I clearly haven't cut it out of my diet. However, I do insist that it be excellent when I consume it, or else I'm wasting valuable aortic space on mediocrity.

In comes Carnitas Snack Shack (2632 University Ave. in North Park), where the pork is so good that it almost doesn't need to be seasoned. Located where Vo's Café used to be, it's a welcome replacement for the neighborhood stop that dispensed delicious Vietnamese takeout. Chef Hanis Cavin and general manager Sara Stroud revamped the small building, replacing the patio with a stunning wood-paneled seating area that includes tables and counter seating.

The menu features everything from a burger to banh mi. The Pork Sand(wich) is a delightful mélange of pork prepared three ways—breaded pork-loin schnitzel, bacon strips and pulled pork, piled between freshly baked buns. Crispy and flavorful, it's topped with a pepperoncini-pickle relish and served with the Shack aioli, a mayo-corn-tomato-pepper-cilantro mixture that I nearly ate alone with a spoon. The Carnitas tacos showcase the amazing Duroc pork sourced from family farmers in Iowa (vanderosefarms.com) and is an excellent repository for that aioli. The most devoted pork lovers should note that there's glazed pork belly on the menu. Pork belly speaks for itself, so I'll stop there.

Carnitas focuses on locally sourced and sustainably raised ingredients whenever possible, and it shows in the flavorful dishes. If you want a departure from pork, there's the Shack Burger and the Beef Sand. To break up the parade of protein, there are veggies on the menu. I happen to love the fact that they're two of my favorites: eggplant and Brussels sprouts.

What I really love about Carnitas is that it serves good food within walking distance of my home and between noon and midnight, meaning I have a tasty and close source for a late dinner.
With apologies to my doctor, of course.


Write to marietm@sdcitybeat.com and editor@sdcitybeat.com. Marie blogs at meanderingeats.com and you can follow her on Twitter at @MeanderingEats.

Calendar

  • Known as the ‘Official Scripps National Spelling Bee Watch Party for Adults,’ guests can cheer on kids in the Scripps National Spelling Bee on ESPN before competing in a spelling bee themselves
  • The renowned Mexican black and white photographer presents an exhibition exploring the principal themes within three groups: "Bestiarium"," Fantastic Women" and "Silent Natures."
  • Debunk some of the stereotypes surrounding cannibalism at this new exhibition that takes a hands-on approach to the subject. Includes video games and interactive activities where patrons will have to decide...
  • A mass action against the closing of the UCSD University Art Gallery. Participants will meet at the Silent Tree (located near the Library Walk) and march together toward the Gallery
  • Local science illustrator Melissa Walter presents new abstract works that are literal interpretations of astronomical theories
  • So Say We All invites listeners to hear stories about real life, the internet, the ways those places intersect or the way they don't intersect at all, told by seven locals
  • The author, comic book writer, and son of Stephen King will sign his new apocalyptic thriller, The Fireman
See all events on Thursday, May 26