Carnitas Uruapan in Santa Ana Is Pig Heaven

You say you like pork—you live for bacon, you shudder over belly, you have a tattoo of a Berkshire on your ass? You're a pretender. You probably haven't been to Carnitas Uruapan, the Valhalla of pig production in Orange County. Forget its delicious namesake product for a bit, and stand in awe at the offerings on its big-screen menu (complete with photos that resemble a delicious autopsy) that meets you upon entering the place almost as fast as the smell of frying pig skin. There's pig eye, pig snout, pig cheeks and pig chitlins. Pig liver? Strong, but silky. Pig blood sausage? Of course. Pig heart? Maybe the best part. Pig uterus? Called nana, and it's probably the most sumptuous rubber you'll ever eat.

Puerco is taken seriously at this SanTana factory—and not just because of the pig frescoes in the front of the restaurant, the large picture of the restaurant's founder as a kid carrying a pig carcass on his back or the epic mural inside, perhaps Orange County's most detailed piece of folk art, featuring hundreds of anthropomorphic pigs living life in the rancho, from cops to lawyers to drunks to even pigs—a happier Animal Farm. In a city full of michoacanos, Carnitas Uruapan must always be on top of its game, so the place is more butcher shop than restaurant. Seating is made from cheap plastic, the better to wipe down as soon as someone finishes. Orders get fixed within seconds, drawn from bubbling trays of pork that's been chopped, steamed, fried, grilled and sautéed. Most folks get their meat by the pound with a stack of tortillas to make quick tacos. Dress them up with Carnitas Uruapan's house salsas, none for the faint-hearted.

More pork? Kidney. Ear. An entire leg stuffed with more pork. Or try a taco de canasta with pierna adovada: a sort of wet taco in which the spiced meat turns into a confit—as great a taco as la naranja has ever seen. And then look again at the portraits of Carnitas Uruapan's owners as pigs, at the catering specials that can feed 100. Beans and rice? What are you—ISIS?

Carnitas Uruapan, 2106 W. Fifth St., Santa Ana, (714) 953-0295;

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