Sahuayo Primo Offers Pig By the Pound

They sit there at Sahuayo Primo in SanTana all the time: golden sheets or strips of chicharrones, fried morning, noon and night, slowly baking under hot lamps. The stacks of pork rinds are visible even from across the street—at night, its yellow glow acts like a beacon, cutting through the sickly orange haze of Main Street—and greet you when you enter the taquería. And if you still aren't impressed by this spectacle, consider the bronze cazuela (pot) that's either bubbling with lard on the stove or drying at the sink, so huge an adult could comfortably take a bath in it.

Sahuayo Primo specializes in pig by the pound, one of many such spots in SanTana, which I declare the pork capital of OC. This city teems with residents from Michoacán, the Mexican state credited with inventing carnitas, perfecting chicharrones and giving due respeto to chorizo. A menu on the marquee breaks the offering down to the cut (aldilla, skin-on pork belly deep-fried until the skin and meat collapse onto each other) and pig part (trompo, the snout of the pig that Sahuayo cooks into a jellied slab of quivering fat), with everything in between. Ask, and they'll put those bits into tortillas (provided by local favorite Tortillería Rubén) for tacos, but most people take bags home to prepare. In fact, the only folks I usually see there are the drunks from the shady next-door bar, so shady it doesn't even have a name. The tacos here are good, if not as distinct as the puerco offerings: the usual carne asada or chicken or suadero selection given to you just with the meat and tortilla, the better for you to doctor according to taste at the salsa bar. Added bonus: the pickled purple onions speckled with habaneros, reeking of fire. Only drawback: Ask for limes, and they'll give you lemons due to the record-high prices affecting the lime industry right now.

Little else is sold besides the pig and the tacos: really, just good burritos and menudo on weekends. The weekends also bring moronga, the amazing blood sausage of Michoacán that is rarely seen up here, even in the michoacano restaurants. Biting into one is like having one of Sahuayo Primo's chicharrón slabs shoveled whole into your mouth: porky, sanguinary, yet delicate, making chorizo seem as hefty as a Communion wafer. Put that in a tortilla, and behold the best taco in OC you've never heard of.

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