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La Luna Voyages: Carnitas Uruapan in Chicago

Updated: Jun 26

Chicago is home to the second largest population of Mexican immigrants in the U.S., and lucky

for the windy city that means you can find real deal carnitas. In Chicago Carnitas Uruapan has

become synonymous with Michoacán’s taco gift to the world. It was founded in 1975 by

Inocencio Carbajal aka “El Guero”, and has since been expanded to a second location with the

help of his son Marcos.

Carbajal has been making carnitas since he was eight years old, taught by his father in

Uruapan. Like other Mexican immigrants who made Pilsen home, El Guero came to Chicago in

the 50s and 60s. While Carnitas Uruapan now has lines out the door from people all over the

city (go early!), it still serves the same community.Every layout comes with the latest social features built in. Readers can easily share posts on social networks like Facebook and Twitter and view how many people have liked a post, made comments and more.


For those of you that haven’t experienced this crispy, crunchy, juicy, fatty porky goodness,

carnitas is made by basically slowly frying a pig in its own fat until you get little brown crisps of

caramelized meat. Just like in Michoacán, the birthplace of carnitas, at Carnitas Uruapan the

whole pig is cooked and offered up (there’s a handy diagram on the menu to display all the

parts of the pig that you can order). If you order a plate of mixto you’ll be able to sample cuertio

(skin), ribs, and other golden bits. Like most carnitas spots, the meat is the centerpiece of the

menu but sides include nopales, guacamole, tortillas, chicharrones and beans.



When the pandemic hit Marcos began using the hashtag #FeedFirstResponders to inspire other

restaurants to donate food to healthcare workers— a strategy that would also keep his staff

employed. The campaign took off and with individuals donating and local non-profit Frontline

Foods getting involved, Carnitas Uruapan has been able to expand to serving the elderly and

other vulnerable populations sometimes with up to 900 meals a day.


Typically both places are open during the day for carnitas, but just like the pandemic has forced

many of us to do business in different ways, the Gage Park location will soon be opening in the

evening as a cenaduria serving pozole, enchiladas, atole and other comfort food. If you haven’t

been to Mexico, a cenaduria is an informal restaurant often in someone’s house where the

menu is whatever homemade dishes the cook wants to make that day. For people not from

Mexico, Marcos said he hopes the cenaduria will introduce people to Michoacan’s traditional

dishes.




Stay tuned for a special collaboration (or might we say distillation) between La Luna and

Carnitas Uruapan! To make a donation to help feed first responders you can do so by visiting

Frontline Foods and mention in the notes that you would like the funds earmarked for Carnitas

Uruapan. For those of you now craving carnitas, we got a special cocktail recipe coming up just

for you.

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