La Luna Voyages: Carnitas Uruapan in Chicago
Updated: Jun 26, 2020
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
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