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Carnitas de Lares

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Nothing out of the ordinary here.

In an unassuming little part of Santa Monica lies Lares, a Mexican Restaurant with an old-timey Mexican look and feel on both the outside and inside. It has the kind of wide menu I’ve come to expect from unassuming Mexican restaurants around LA, but I had heard that of all their options, their carnitas were the bee’s knees. Carnitas are like Mexican pulled pork and usually not my first choice in Mexican food, but I figured I would be a fool to not try them at Lares.

So try them I did. I ordered them in a burrito, which also came loaded with pinto beans, cilantro and onion. I wanted no part in the onion, but the rest was fair game. But before I got to the burrito, I first had to destroy their chips and salsa. The chips were actually pretty fantastic in both their freshness and thickness. The salsa was good to be sure, but nothing amazing.

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Oh, there’s the cream filling.

And the carnitas burrito? I must give props where props are due. The carnitas themselves were great, being juicy, tender and flavorful without tasting too oily like carnitas often can. Yet, I didn’t exactly fall in love with the whole burrito. It wasn’t bad by any means, but it really wasn’t special either.

I can certainly see Lares as being incredibly popular in its neighborhood, but this is LA and there is Mexican food up the wazoo. I would certainly eat at Lares again and enjoy it just as much, but I have plenty of awesome Mexican food closer than Santa Monica and I’m a lot more likely to eat those instead.