Thursday, July 8, 2010

Wednesday Dinner - Porque No? Carnitas Tacos

I will start with a caveat - I have no aspirations to be a restaurant (heck, I even have trouble spelling the word restaurant) critic. Please take my words with a grain of salt and try it for yourself. Also, a word on Porque No? - I've listed it as one of my favorite restaurants right over there ---> That's not to say it's amazing or delicious or a must-try. It's super convenient for me and the ONLY thing I ever eat there is the guacamole, chips, salsa and the carnitas tacos. If you don't like carnitas tacos, you're out of luck today. Okay, here I go:

Porque No? opened up on Hawthorne right when we were moving in to our house two years ago. Here's what I'll say about it (just kidding, I'll say a lot more) - my neighbor recommended the Bryan's bowl when I was raving about the Whole Bowl down the street. He said it was even better than the Whole Bowl. And that settled it, I went the next day to get my Bryan's bowl. I was sick for a day afterwards. Not a fan. In fact, I refused to go back to Porque No? for almost a year until Trey convinced me to try the carnitas tacos. And now I eat them every week. Sometimes twice a week.

Porque No?, as you will read on or any other review site, has a great atmosphere if you're dining in. It's fun, funky, colorful and they make a mean (read: strong) margarita. Truly, besides the carnitas tacos, that's all its got going for it. Oh, and the guacamole is fantastic. Really the best guac I've had since Austin. A lot of the times the food is very touch-and-go. I think it depends on who is cooking that night. One of these times I may do some stalking to find out who the best cook is...Anyway, sometimes the guac is too salty, sometimes the chips aren't fully cooked, and sometimes the carnitas are greasy. My advice is to go back another night if you have a bad experience with the carnitas - because when you get a good one you, too, will be hooked.

Here's another thing about Porque No? it's ALWAYS crowded. Always. I kind of don't get it. It's a great spot to catch a drink on a hot day - sit outside with your dog and take it easy. Don't worry - you won't wait long. You have to order first and then sit down, you'll get a table. They have a ton. If you do eat there, relax and enjoy it. I try not to eat there physically unless I have a real hankering for a strong margarita or I want to sit outside with Zane (my dog). It's right around the corner so I usually get it to-go and eat it at home. Normally it's pretty quick - you call in your order and they'll have it ready for you at the second counter when they say it'll be ready. Last night, however, I had to wait a few extra (okay, 15 extra) minutes. It was worth it at first to watch the chefs in action. There's the guy rolling fresh tortillas by hand, the sous chef prepping and taking care of pretty much everything else, the grill guys grilling up the meats and doling out ceviche and salsas, putting together the plates and handing them to the servers. After 10 minutes of observing, though, I was just hungry and tired of spying. Plus, it's gotta be hot. That's pretty much what I decided - I don't think I can work in a restaurant, it's hot, the grill is going, you're sweaty and people are hungry. Too much pressure! I'll just take my food and go home, thank you very much.

To speak to the carnitas for a moment, they are simply delicious. The pork is (usually) cooked to perfection, they (usually) give you the right amount of pork, onion and cilantro. I wish they'd give you one slice of lime per taco - but when you order two tacos they only give you one. But, if you squirt the lime on top of the taco and devour it makes it oh so much better. I sometimes order one or both of my tacos with the crema - a light sour cream-like sauce and it is also good - as long as they don't overdo it. I think when they are busy they just kind of throw everything together without much thought to the diner...however! don't let my critique deter you from the carnitas tacos. I want to make it clear that I love the carnitas tacos, I do have some complaints about the place overall but like I said, once you get that one perfect carnita taco you will be back to roll the dice for another one.

Bon appetit!

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