carnitas uruapan / la mesa – san diego, ca

Jake gets to take credit for this find – a little taco shop in La Mesa that he wasn’t even sure of the name of when we were headed over to check it out.

“How will we find it then, if we don’t know the name of it?” I asked.

“We’ll find it,” he insisted.

Sure enough, there it was in the distance – Carnitas Uruapan – and it was definitely the place. We’ve been twice already and I still keep forgetting the name. My desire to call it “Uhura” instead is quite strong.

The other day I asked Jake, “if I said can we go to that Uhura place, would you know what I meant?”

He did. He’s the best.


This is the menu. This place is not very big. There are less than 10 tables and sometimes all of them will be full. If you’re eating in, you can grab a table and someone will serve you. Otherwise, you can wait in line for to-go orders and they have a drive-thru.

On weekends, they have this set up outside in the parking lot:


A spit with adobada! They only do this on Friday, Saturday and Sunday after 5PM and the mini tacos cost a mere $.99 cents.


We sat down and got service both times and we get served this lovely basket of chips. They taste quite fresh and are served with a very nice, medium salsa.


[1lb. of carnitas]

On our first visit, we ordered a variety of things, including 1lb. of carnitas. This would be part of the “Dinner for Two” and is served with tomatoes, cilantro, homemade tortillas, rice and beans – all for $11.

The carnitas were tender and pretty good – though I prefer it at another place, these were still quite good. Very juicy with a few crispy bits here and there.


I couldn’t decide between flour and corn, so we got some of each. The tortillas were hot and fresh and of the two, I preferred the flour tortillas.


Rice! It was okay.


Refried Beans! I actually liked this… funny, since I usually don’t like to put beans into my mouth. But these were pretty yummy. They were creamy and didn’t have as many beans in whole form (which is one thing I don’t like).


[5 carnitas rolled tacos – $4.25]

Rolled tacos! You got to choose what kind of filling you want for your rolled tacos – one of which is carnitas (or beef or chicken)! I’ve never had carnitas as an option for rolled tacos before.


The rolled tacos were very fresh and super crunchy. You could tell these were not premade, frozen, from a box. Each one was oddly shaped – a sure sign of freshly made! I don’t know if I could necessarily tell the different from beef and pork when it was all fried up like this, but what I do know is that these were damn delicious.


[3 potato tacos – $2.99]

We also ordered these on a whim. I haven’t had the best luck with potato tacos before – most of the time they turn out less than stellar but I’m happy to report these were better than my dreams.


The filled was super creamy and flavorful – it tasted a lot like having really delicious mashed potatoes stuffed into a fresh, crispy taco shell. I loved these so much that I made Jake take us again the following week just so I could have them again… I just love how much flavor they packed into the potatoes and along with the fresh taco shell… man, it just can’t be beat!


[mini tacos – $.99 cents each]

These are the mini tacos that they offer only on the weekends. Getting them with “everything” involves a whole MESS of guacamole, onions and cilantro. I highly recommend you ask them to go light on the guacamole, or maybe even ask for it on the side as too much of it takes away from the flavor of the meat. They’re very good though – the meat is well seasoned and it’s on the sweeter side (not super spicy like they do at Tacos el Gordo). For $.99 cents, these little tacos are a great deal!



We also finished our meal with churros that first time. These are more of the frozen-cream-filled variety but not bad for what it is. They were cooked just right and were pretty good, but Jake and I are forever spoiled by Churros el Tigre!


[adobada (or al pastor) burrito – $4.99]

On a second visit, I had my potato tacos again (SO GOOD) and Jake decided to get an adobada burrito in addition to getting a few of the mini tacos for me and his son.

Jake thinks the adobada here is pretty damn good – only second to Tacos el Gordo! I admit I probably like this one a bit better since it’s sweeter and less spicy.


[pork tamale with salsa and cheese]

We also tried one of their house made tamales. I had tried to order one on our first visit, but they had sold out that day! They only offer pork tamales and they cover theirs with an enchilada-like sauce and cheese. I honestly did not care for the sauce – I tried it since that’s how they do it here, but I’d rather have it sans sauce and cheese. Because of that, I just thought this was okay. I thought the sauce covered up too much of the masa and it made hard for me to tell if I really liked it or not.


All in all though I was very pleasantly surprised by this little shop’s offering of Mexican food. Everything tastes so fresh and homemade – you can tell in everything they make that’s it’s made with love! We’ll definitely be back to try more things – and for my potato taco cravings.

Carnitas Uruapan
4233 Spring Street
La Mesa, CA 91941

Carnitas Uruapan on Urbanspoon

9 thoughts on “carnitas uruapan / la mesa – san diego, ca

  1. I seriously admire the way you and Jake handle your food excursions. I’m envious (kinda like w/ the mom/dog thing huh).

    That first visit looked amazing – I can’t believe the carnitas meal was $11.

    I hate corn tortillas – they always taste so gritty to me for some reason. And I concur with your sentiments on beans – blech. So I’m glad you actually liked the refried beans here.

    The adobada is my unicorn for Mexican food – trying to find THE best one here in SD has been impossible (same w/ the al pastor too). Every time I see the adobada on a spit, I lose my mind from excitement . But then I try it and get all defeated b/c it never tastes as good as it looks (at least in my experience).

    The churros looked good! Did they come out piping hot (even if it was frozen, a deep fry bath helps these suckers out) ? I can only get my fix of hot churros from El Pollo Loco – how sad is that. And I’ve wanted to try the Churros el Tigre but can’t fathom the drive at night to find them.

    Have a good weekend 🙂

    1. Hi Faye! Have you tried Tacos el Gordo for the adobada? That one is Jake’s favorite. He’s always, always looking for good adobada, too. I’ll be sure to report future findings just for your sake 🙂 The churros were quite hot when we got them, so they were actually good. I’m just a snob haha. Churros el Tigre has a permanent stand down at the border in the shopping center at Las Amercias, if you ever feel like driving all the way down there. They’re also at the swap meet in Spring Valley on the weekend! Hope you have a good weekend too – I read you’re going on a trip soon (yay!)!

  2. Hi Mary,

    Yes – please keep me in mind for my adobada and al pastor ‘unicorn’. I tried the adobada at Tacos el Gordo (National City?) but thought they were just ok. I’m not great w/ Mexican food but there’s something about al pastor/adobada that makes me kooky (I had al pastor in Cancun few years back and haven’t found anything close to that good since).

    I’ve never been to Las Americas! So that’s another reason for me to jump in car to try el Tigre – thanks for the tip BTW on their locations 🙂

    Yes I’m leaving for Taiwan in a few days – it’s a short trip but I’m anticipating on gaining an extra 12+ lbs during that short trip – you know, for the *sake* of having something to write about (*wink wink*) for my lil’ blog …

    Oh – I forgot to tell you – when I read your Uhura comment, I blinked a few times in confusion. Not sure why it confused me. But then I scrolled back up to look at the name of the restaurant. And you know what I read the name as – Ureapan. I do not know why. I think I replaced the 2nd ‘u’ with my ‘e’ b/c I was confused (at the time) about your Uhura comment? Hahahaha – i thought you and Jake might get a laugh outta that one 🙂

    1. Have fun on your trip! Excited to hear about you have over in Taiwan! Will definitely keep you posted about any adobada places. Maybe we just need to have an adobada crawl and see if any of them are worth it 🙂

  3. I’ve given up on rolled tacos since they always seem to be the premade, frozen variety but I’ll try them here. What a great deal on a carnitas dinner for two!

  4. Always fresh and good here. If you *really* want decadence…look at the left side of that menu, 3rd and 4th items from the bottom- chicharon $3.50/half lb, $7/lb. Order it with your food and when you are done eating, you’ll get a bag of fresh fried wonderful when you are leaving.

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