Metro Balderas is a family operation with four locations in Los Angeles, each run by a different member of the family. exilekiss visited the Highland Park branch, run by Jasmine Guzman. Every Saturday and Sunday, Metro Balderas offers eight types of pork carnitas in the Distrito Federal style for a barrage of carnitas taco glory.
There’s buche carnitas—braised pork stomach—with a good, light chewiness and a bit of elasticity that gives way to a soft, braised quality. It’s the best buche taco exilekiss has had in LA.
The cuerito carnitas—braised pork skin—is satisfyingly salty and unctuous. Trompa carnitas—braised pig snout—is even juicier, showing off its four hours of braising time with “ultra juicy, fatty, sultry pieces of super tender pork goodness,” says exilekiss.
Costilla carnitas—braised pork ribs—is very fresh and lean. There’s a nice crunch from the cartilage, and a wonderful brightness and clarity to the flavor, says exilekiss. And then there’s nana carnitas—braised pork uterus. It is intense, thick, chewy, and amazingly earthy.
But the greatest thing here according to exilekiss is oreja carnitas, braised pig ear. It has just the right balance of fat and delicious cartilage crunchiness; it is “at once wonderfully porky, succulent and crunchy,” says exilekiss. It has the “moist, sexy fattiness” of pork belly or bacon, but it’s not quite so overwhelming.
Be aware: If you arrive late, you may find that all the carnitas has sold out.
Metro Balderas [Highland Park]
5305 N. Figueroa Street, Los Angeles