Carnitas Snack Shack

I love this restaurant. I have been coming here since it opened and I live in North County, so it’s a drive. They have a Del Mar location now, but nothing beats the original location, right?! I also know the owners Hanis Cavin and Sara Stroud, Executive Chef and badass business lady extraordinaire. I love them with all my pork filled heart. That they put there. So much love. I met them when I used to work in the industry doing events with Hanis and I still get to see them when my husband does events with them. It’s usually a situation where my husband will ask if Hanis is there and then he will do it, seriously. Bro-mances… Gotta love them. This power couple though are such amazing people that have made an equally amazing place for people to come and eat. They are also opening a new shack in the Embarcadero, if all goes well in March 2016, to feed more of our growling bellies. I look forward to visiting the new place, it sounds like it’s going to be beautiful!

Here are the details on the place:

Executive Chef: Hanis Cavin

Home: 2632 University Ave

San Diego, CA 92104

Phone: 619-294-7675

Hours: 12-12 Sunday through Saturday

Del Mar: 12873 El Camino Real M-4

San Diego, CA 92130

Phone: 858-350-7675

Hours Sunday- Thursday: 11-9 Friday and Saturday: 11-10

Carnitas is one of my favorite places to come get fat and eat some good grub. Going along with my previous blog of loving yourself and following the anti-resolution, this place is definitely the spot to go love yourself a little. My husband and I have a rule that we can’t go to North Park without each other to eat because it wouldn’t be fair to the other to enjoy all the love alone. That is how good it is.

Now let’s talk décor. I adore how it’s set up. Totally unassuming. You walk up, order and around the corner you walk into a cool garden patio area to find a table to sit at. In the far back they have what they call the pig pen that is open on the weekends that they have beers on tap and specials to order from. Very yummy and local. Heaters are set up everywhere so if you go in the evening times you won’t be cold, but as always bring a jacket… They also have patio lights set up everywhere so it’s really cozy wherever you sit. Great place to go if you want to have a good meal and some beer for some adult time. HOWEVER, if you decide to bring the children, it’s very kid friendly. Highchairs are available and the minions do love it here. The entire staff there is really friendly and you might not know this but you might be getting served your food by one of the owners. They take a lot of pride in their shack and check in on it regularly, so if the shit hits the fan they step in when needed. 2016-01-02_0002

So, let’s talk food… we have been here enough times that I have had everything on the menu. Including the specials. I think there are MAYBE one or two that we haven’t had but, we have literally had everything else. Let me tell you, there is not one thing that is bad on the menu. NOT. ONE. THING. So here is what we got on our trip…

Pork Belly App– braised duroc pork / sweet-spicy glaze / frisée salad / apples / radish / lemon vinaigrette. What can I say about this dish? Well, what I can say is it is my favorite thing on the menu, and I order it every time I come here. It’s so freaking good. It’s like, the biggest piece of belly you have seen in ever, slathered in the heavenliest sauce known to exist, which is both sweet and smoky but also caramel all at the same time, accompanied by this refreshing salad that has apples and radishes and this light vinaigrette. It’s such a plate cleanser/ pork balancer this little salad that could. Can you believe they serve this as an APP?! Uh, no I’m NOT sharing this with someone, although I should because I can NEVER finish it. So…much…love…


Carnitas Tacos (2) Guacamole / tomato / cilantro / onion / radish. If I am feeling like I need my pork fix but not a champion, this is also my go to dish, when we bring the kids we get them this too. Straight up wholesome goodness. Nothing beats a well-made Carnitas taco. Its simple straight forward goodness. Just whole lot of it. But let me tell you the Carnitas, I don’t know what he does to them, but they have gotten better and better each time I try them. They get crispier, jucier, softer, porkier, just better. Again, this place is magic and it begins with the taco.

Triple Threat Pork Sandwich pork loin schnitzel / puled pork / bacon / pepperoncini relish / shack aioli. This beast of a sandwich is what my husband loves. The schnitzel is crispy, the pulled pork is smoky, the bacon is thick, the relish is crunchy, and the aioli is out of this world (I will discuss this with the fries…).When I asked my husband to describe or give me his opinion of the sandwich he said, “It’s crispy, it’s soft, it’s crispy again. You eat it and like it!” So I guess you gotta be a man about this sammich because only real men can eat this beast.

Seasoned Fries w/ Bacon Ketchup. I love French fries. I blame my mother for this. It all began with McDonalds fries and if you put a fry in front of me, I’m gonna eat it. Steak fries don’t count though, those are potato wedges and if you call them fries you are a liar and we can’t be friends! That being said, shack fries are awesome. You must eat these fries. No matter what you order, you must order fires with it. It comes with House made bacon ketchup. That’s right BACON KETCHUP. Its retarded good. BUT, if you know about the aioli and you feel like taking a flavor journey, come with me down the rabbit hole once more and ask for a side of shack aioli. It’s ridiculous. I can’t tell you what’s in it, you’ll just have to trust me on this one… But it is worth the risk.

Shack Chicharrons crispy pork skin / spicy avocado hot sauce. If you don’t like skins you are un-American! Ha-ha. Ok not really, but these things are so good you can’t just have one and then you’ll wonder what happened to the plate… What I love about them too is that they come out hot so they are still pooping at the table. The sauce that comes with it has a nice creamy bite to it as well so it’s a contrast of crispy, cool, fire all in one bite. So viciously good.2016-01-02_0003

There it was! Our Date night to The Shack. Please take time to visit this local business. It’s worth the drive with or without kids. Date or not. Take out or dine in. (Yes, you can take this awesome-ness home, if you can wait that long!) Carnitas puts a spell on you, and it’s all about the love. P.S. if you are REALLY lucky you might even get to see Carnitas himself! (Yes, the owners have a pig called Carnitas. He’s is a gentleman and a fine pig indeed! Just like his daddy.) Until next time my friends, have a very merry un-birthday to you!

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