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Las Morelianas (3645 University Avenue, 619-521-2891) is just into City Heights, but it feels much more removed than that. Everything is rough around the edges, from the construction to the service to the clientele. Not rough as in dangerous, rough as in working class, unpolished, or homegrown. It’s like the contrapositive to a chic yet humble barbacoa place like Aqui es Texcoco or El Borrego.

With that roughness comes a low price of entry for excellent carnitas. The house special is a one pound serving for about $9, which makes an awful lot of tacos. Not wanting to eat an entire pound of fried pork, I went for a carnitas plate ($8) that included some rice and refried beans. The huge portion of carnitas that got set down in front of me was almost intimidating. Almost.

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A similarly enormous plate of fajitas was an excuse to eat a huge pile of steak and chicken, griddled on the plancha with peppers and onions.

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I definitely didn’t need the adobada gordita ($3.50) I added to the order, nor was the garden salad ($3.75) strictly necessary. Although, there’s something to be said for adding at least one green, leafy vegetable to a meal at Las Morelianas. The cilantro and onions for topping the carnitas don’t really count.

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Morelianas makes no pretense at being healthy or fancy, but a few people could satiate themselves for $30 and it’s sometimes rad to throw caution to the wind and engulf huge portions of meat with naught but a tortilla and some chopped cilantro to balance out the protein. For those days, Las Morelianas Carnitas Estilo is just about perfect.

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