Top

dining

Stories

 

Carne Asada In OC

[Hole In the Wall] Northgate Gonzalez Market, Rubalcava's and all the other places to buy our favorite Mexican meat

Get with the Reconquista, people: This is carne asada country, so stop trying to slow-roast 'cue in some overpriced contraption, only to get results not worthy of a Memphis trash heap. It has been since the Californios ruled cattle empires, since the Americans who overtook the state would pretend to be Mexicans by cooking beef all day next to the beach. As with the breakfast burrito and bacon-wrapped hot dog, the meat is now so ubiquitous that Southern Californians with not a drop of mestizo blood line up at supermarkets all summer long to buy carne asada for the grill.

You can try to marinate carne asada on your own, but why not just let a Mexican do the job, just as you do with everything else? Living in Aztlán gives us the benefit of many markets that sell carne asada preparada—pre-marinated so any silly gabacho can just throw it on the grill and char it to chewy, tender, succulent success. In fact, so many markets now dot OC that I can split them up into three categories:

  

Northgate: Nice to gabachos and wabs alike!
Northgate: Nice to gabachos and wabs alike!

Location Info

Map

Marina Ranch Market

34146 Pacific Coast Highway
Dana Point, CA 92629

Category: Retail

Region: Dana Point

La Bodega Market

259 S. Tustin St.
Orange, CA 92866

Category: Grocery Stores

Region: Orange

Rubalcava’s

506 W. Chapman Ave.
Placentia, CA 92870

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: Placentia

Related Stories

More About

THE BEHEMOTHS

The past decade has seen an explosion of Mexican supermarket chains overtake Orange County, from the Carlos Slim-owned El Super to the Korean-owned Superior to even outposts of the San Fernando Valley-based Vallarta chain. But as someone who has lived in Orange County his entire life and grew up in Anaheim, it has been amazing to see the growth of Northgate González Supermarket from a singular dive off Anaheim Boulevard to a 37-store behemoth that spans Southern California—and I don't say this just because my pops is a truck driver for the company. What's coolest about Northgate is that despite the massive expansion over the past three decades, its quality has never dropped. The carne asada, in particular, is still great, adding profound doses of onion and chiles that make placing it on the grill a fragrant, sonorous triumph. And lest folks think I'm playing favorites here, a plug for the loyal opposition: Local labor is planning a campaign to unionize Northgate's workers, with a protest already having happened May Day in San Diego and more to come soon in la naranja. Should be fun! Find your nearest Northgate at northgatemarkets.com.

*     *     *

THE MOM-AND-POPS

Despite the rise of Mexican supermarkets, a chingo of mom-and-pops still rule the OC carne asada scene. Go beyond the ones gabachos have long lionized—El Campeón in San Juan Capistrano, Lake Forest's El Toro Gourmet Meats, the El Metate mini-chain, all good—and try other spots. Marina Ranch Market (34146 Pacific Coast Hwy., Dana Point, 949-496-4669) impresses with carne asada heavy on the chile; La Bodega (259 S. Tustin St., Orange, 714-633-7978) marinates and slices its asada so it nearly looks like sashimi, so translucent and beautiful it is. Roland Rubalcava over at Rubalcava's (506 W. Chapman Ave., Placentia, 714-524-0117) is the nephew of the Rubalcavas who run the excellent La Reina Markets in Orange and Anaheim (which also sell great carne asada), but the cabrón adds his own twist by never freezing the meat and marinating it adobo style, so it turns into smoky, spicy bliss upon hitting the grill. And while a lot of people swear by El Toro Meat Market in SanTana, the owners aren't fans of this paper, so fuck 'em.

*     *     *

THE BEST

But I cannot lie: When I grill, I drive all the way to La Venadita (22035 S. Main St., Carson, 310-830-7099). What I wrote about them a decade ago in this infernal rag still stands: ", this carnicería isn't located in OC. But I'd drive to the black center of [former racist Newport Beach council member] Dick Nichols' soul if La Venadita relocated there. La Venadita's carne asada is peppery, laced with jalapeño seeds, and so tender even after cooking it should be illegal." I don't know what I was trying to do with that last slice of the sentence, but my recommendation remains. Sorry, OC: LA beats us this time. Now, drive out to Carson already!

 
My Voice Nation Help
54 comments
dsdellaccio
dsdellaccio

Has @GustavoArellano  or anyone else ever visited El Campeon on Wilson/Harbor in Costa Mesa?  Been very interested since spotting a few weeks ago.  If so, what's the must buy's there?

ExoticMoments2You
ExoticMoments2You

Why waste time just ask a neighbor you will get a better recipe. Can beat what I cook up at home.

medinatherapy
medinatherapy

La Venadita now has a store in Whittier. Same meat from the Carson store.

medinatherapy
medinatherapy

La Venadita now has a store in Whittier. The meat there is by far the best, so tender you don't need teeth.

Raquel Ariaz
Raquel Ariaz

Vascos Meat Market in Downey.....ranchera preparada (ternera) jugosa y tiernita

Teo Huerta
Teo Huerta

Con el Arabe, 1St and Sullivan next to Mexicanisimo.Santa Ana

James McDonald
James McDonald

In SW Utah, that would be El Bolson in Cedar City.

Lorraine Vidal
Lorraine Vidal

El Centro Carniceria in East Los on Kern & Whittier.

Cathy Gutierrez Barraza
Cathy Gutierrez Barraza

Pastor's Meat Market in Pico Rivera. Their ranchera preparada is the best hands down! Even though I moved to Hemet, I STILL go to Pico to buy meat there.

Nabor Solano
Nabor Solano

Primo. Believe it or not holmes, but Costco has some tender delicious carne asada (flap meat) if you know how to prepare it yourself. Try It. Leykis, saving every pennny

Sergio Serrano
Sergio Serrano

I will be paying a visit to my brother in Torrance this weekend, but I will make a pit stop at La Venadita! Thanks Gustavo.

Fernando Hernandez
Fernando Hernandez

First and gage the best tin cut for fast cooking y preparada como la kieras

Liliana Martinez
Liliana Martinez

La Reyna on East and Sycamore in Anaheim is pretty good.

Heide Castañeda
Heide Castañeda

In Florida, this usually means a trip to a local Puerto Rican or Cuban carneceria for the right cuts and prices

José-Ariel Cuevas
José-Ariel Cuevas

Up here in Nor Cal, I wish there were a mom and pop carnercería, but since there isn't, the next-best spot to get carne asada is at Chávez Supermarket.

Chino Negrete
Chino Negrete

La venadita in Carson. I only go there for the cut, nice trim. I marinade it myself though. Their prepared chicken is delish as well.

Luz Maria Encinas
Luz Maria Encinas

Patricia's Meat market in La Puente....grew up going to that place. And b/c i live in SD, you're right...big props to Northgate for still having great quality :)

obedsilvaj
obedsilvaj

Northgate, really? Not only is the meat there cut too thick and laced with a lot of fat, but it's packed with onions and peppers that don't really add much flavor--if anything they only add weight. The good meat's at Guadalajara Market in Anaheim on the corner of Beach and Ball. It used to be Los Hermanos. Meat there's thinly cut and full of flavor. It's run through a marinating machine while you wait. No onions and cuts of chiles are necessary. Cheaper than Northgate too.

STOPTHERECONQUISTA
STOPTHERECONQUISTA

Gus....can you help me find a proper Donner Kabab....England style (yeah, turkish immigrants are the Mexicans of Europe). but man.....goooooood. horrible..but good.

DANC.
DANC.

Wow, this is interesting. We usually go to a GREAT authentic Mexican place to get our Carne Asada: it's called CHIPOLTLE. They are easy to get in, well decorated and the staff speaks English.

If you go to other cities (outside IRVINE) you have to deal with people who are hard to communicate with.

WE LOVE CHIPOLTLE, it is to Mexican food to what Olive Garden is to Italian: TOP NOTCH AUTHENTIC!

Dwayne Takeda
Dwayne Takeda

Bernardo: I'm no Mexican, but I believe it's Carne para asar.

Bubba
Bubba

Great article, but I have to ask... why do you always have to include political comments in every article you write.  Just a wild guess that you're a Democrat?  I won't state my opinions here, but you know what will happen if Northgate unionizes, right?  That good 'ole carne asada will go up in price by a few bucks a pound.

Diana Maldonado
Diana Maldonado

I have to try this place in Carson! Best so far for us is in East los Angeles. We drive to La princesita off of Brooklyn. Yummers! Thanks for the recommendation!

Bernardo Andrade
Bernardo Andrade

Is not "carne asada" until you grill it! Before that, is just "carne"

RonaldMexico
RonaldMexico

I drive up to El Monte for my Carne from HB, so yeah it is that good. El Gallito market is worth the drive, and while there try their market good stuff, but more Nicaraguan then Mexican.

TylerDurden
TylerDurden

Hell yeah!  No more going to Albertsons for expensive cuts of Carne Asada!  Now I know where to go

vegandawg23
vegandawg23 topcommenter

Au Lac's Carne Seitan (Carny Satan) is much better than anything in Santa Ana. 

Mohe
Mohe

The carniceria inside carlos market on flower and edinger in santa ana has the best carne asada! Its a humble carniceria but the meat is delicious.

LKLK
LKLK

El faro meat market should be in your next review... It's off 17th and roxey in Santa Ana, ca. It's between harbor and fairview. I gotta try the bodega...

Btw... Don't worry about the college speaking thing... Pendejadas happen!

nenav1
nenav1

Hi Danc, this article is about were to buy the raw meat you can grill yourself at carnicerias. Not chain restaurants where you get the pre cooked stuff

GustavoArellano
GustavoArellano moderator editortopcommenter

@Bubba Why not? And, as Groucho Marx once said, I would never belong to a party that would have me as a member, so I am affiliated with no one.

Dave_Lieberman
Dave_Lieberman

@vegandawg23 You're right. There is absolutely no Mexican-flavoured fake meat worth eating in Santa Ana. I'm hoping that'll change with the flurry of vegetarian restaurants opening in SA.

m.e.
m.e.

yup - el faro is my families' fav too!

STOPTHERECONQUISTA
STOPTHERECONQUISTA

@GustavoArellano @STOPTHERECONQUISTA I promise not be racist....but the moron thing is kinda inbred (if you get my drift). 


I'm not a racist. I just hate the reconquista. I ran a little league team and the latino announcer used a thick latino accent for the latino kids and an 'american' accent for everyone else. one latino kid (totally americanized) asked, "why does he do that". ..another said 'because you're latino (with heavy accent)'. then said...'hey, this is the latino side of the dugout, that's the white boy side'. He then told the sole black kid on the team to sit in the corner on a bucket. ...and they all did it True story. ...and I knew if I told the announcer to stop doing that, he'd scream racism. They were short stops, pitchers, outfielders....but once the announcer pointed out their race differences, they weren't a team...they were tribes based on race. I'm really concerned 'latino pride' will tear this country apart. I don't want 'white pride' to be o.k. ...but that's the logical response. (and I don't need racist skinheads or newport rich punkasses as friends) Why can't we all just be Americans?


anyway...may I please have a donner kabob?

Dave_Lieberman
Dave_Lieberman

@sgbrown10 @GustavoArellano @STOPTHERECONQUISTA Wow, even by the standards of these comment sections you're a special kind of idiot.

There's a difference between celebrating your food and heritage (for example, Oktoberfest, Festa di San Gennaro or St.-Jean-Baptiste) and pretending you're the only race that matters.

And you've obviously only seen Mexico on the Internet or been to the northern part of Tijuana on some 18-year-old drinking binge trip... you've never been to Ajijic, San Miguel de Allende, Cabo San Lucas or Puerto Vallarta, where more English is spoken than Spanish, all the signs are in English, and they have bagel shops and all the comforts rich retired suburban white people "braving the frontier" (*massive eyeroll*) require in order to live.

sgbrown10
sgbrown10

@GustavoArellano @STOPTHERECONQUISTA gustavo wetback when gabachoes celebrate their european food and heritage you denounce them as racists...if mexiucan culture is so superior why is teh country such a dump? you dont see white women fleeing to mexico to pump out anchor babies in mexican emergency rooms do you? 

GustavoArellano
GustavoArellano moderator editortopcommenter

@STOPTHERECONQUISTA And that somehow indemnifies ALL Mexicans? That reminds me of the woman who once told me she hates Mexicans because one once stole her car; when I replied a gabacho stole my car but I don't hate all gabachos because of that, she shut up. Anyhoo, your best bet for a doner kebab is Al Tabayet in Anaheim.

Dave_Lieberman
Dave_Lieberman

@DANC. @GustavoArellano @LKLK Birria de borrego is not a TJ thing... everybody in TJ eats birria de res (though a few places make birria de camarón that's out of this world).

I can't make any recommendations for birria de borrego but the best birria de res I've had is at La Cocina de Mi Abuelita on Bristol near South Coast Plaza.

 
Loading...