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Not the usual carne asada

Kennedy's Meat Co. updated with hybrid tortillas and choice beef

Larger tortillas made with both masa and wheat flour can hold a fair amount of carne asada.
Larger tortillas made with both masa and wheat flour can hold a fair amount of carne asada.

I don’t suppose many readers have occasion to go out in Escondido’s eastern sprawl for carne asada. I doubt most of us need to travel a mile to find a choice of spots serving it. But if you’re out that way, past the 78, look for the big sign: Kennedy’s.

Place

Kennedy's Meat Company

1766 E Valley Pkwy, Escondido

It used to be called Kennedy’s Karne, the expansion of a shop that opened in the early 1970s in the town of Heber, an even more way out burg near El Centro. More recently, the Escondido location operated out of a different, smaller location across the parking lot.

A butcher counter in back, taco counter up front, and taco-making supplies in the middle.

As of September it's Kennedy's Meat Company, now in the hands of the original owner’s grandson, has scaled up, selling prime and other top-shelf meats, and briquettes to grill them over. But, not to buck more than four decades of Soto family tradition, as a counter restaurant, grilling carne asada is its thing.

Despite the Cape Cod sounding name, Kennedy’s is a taco shop. And the thing that struck me on first glimpse of these tacos were the tortillas. They’re larger than typical corn tortillas — the diameter of old 45 rpm vinyl versus that of a CD — and thinner.

Turns out, that’s because it’s a tortilla hybrid: made with both masa and wheat flour. Flavor-wise, it loses a bit of that succulent nixtamalized corn nuttiness. However, the thinner hybrid turns out to be more durable than straight corn tortilla, able to maintain structural integrity with a larger portion of beef.

The carne itself is made with flap steak, a flavorful part of the bottom sirloin, and for taco meat it’s of pretty great quality: USDA choice. Between that and the size of the tacos, they go for $4.99 apiece. You can also spend $10 for a burrito or carne fries, or $9 for a rice bowl. But two tacos plus a couple of 75-cent sides did me well for $12 and change. Choice between black beans and refried pinto, Spanish or poblano rice.

That lightly flavored poblano rice was nice, but those tacos, garnished with fresh guacamole and pico de gallo, made the visit for me. The carne asada had very low gristle, but plenty of gnash, and only enough seasoning to accentuate the agreeable meat and char flavor of the choice steak. A splash of salsa is all it needed to make me stop wondering what I was doing so far from home.

Meanwhile, good news if you live on the exact opposite end of the county: another Kennedy’s location is in the works for Imperial Beach.

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Larger tortillas made with both masa and wheat flour can hold a fair amount of carne asada.
Larger tortillas made with both masa and wheat flour can hold a fair amount of carne asada.

I don’t suppose many readers have occasion to go out in Escondido’s eastern sprawl for carne asada. I doubt most of us need to travel a mile to find a choice of spots serving it. But if you’re out that way, past the 78, look for the big sign: Kennedy’s.

Place

Kennedy's Meat Company

1766 E Valley Pkwy, Escondido

It used to be called Kennedy’s Karne, the expansion of a shop that opened in the early 1970s in the town of Heber, an even more way out burg near El Centro. More recently, the Escondido location operated out of a different, smaller location across the parking lot.

A butcher counter in back, taco counter up front, and taco-making supplies in the middle.

As of September it's Kennedy's Meat Company, now in the hands of the original owner’s grandson, has scaled up, selling prime and other top-shelf meats, and briquettes to grill them over. But, not to buck more than four decades of Soto family tradition, as a counter restaurant, grilling carne asada is its thing.

Despite the Cape Cod sounding name, Kennedy’s is a taco shop. And the thing that struck me on first glimpse of these tacos were the tortillas. They’re larger than typical corn tortillas — the diameter of old 45 rpm vinyl versus that of a CD — and thinner.

Turns out, that’s because it’s a tortilla hybrid: made with both masa and wheat flour. Flavor-wise, it loses a bit of that succulent nixtamalized corn nuttiness. However, the thinner hybrid turns out to be more durable than straight corn tortilla, able to maintain structural integrity with a larger portion of beef.

The carne itself is made with flap steak, a flavorful part of the bottom sirloin, and for taco meat it’s of pretty great quality: USDA choice. Between that and the size of the tacos, they go for $4.99 apiece. You can also spend $10 for a burrito or carne fries, or $9 for a rice bowl. But two tacos plus a couple of 75-cent sides did me well for $12 and change. Choice between black beans and refried pinto, Spanish or poblano rice.

That lightly flavored poblano rice was nice, but those tacos, garnished with fresh guacamole and pico de gallo, made the visit for me. The carne asada had very low gristle, but plenty of gnash, and only enough seasoning to accentuate the agreeable meat and char flavor of the choice steak. A splash of salsa is all it needed to make me stop wondering what I was doing so far from home.

Meanwhile, good news if you live on the exact opposite end of the county: another Kennedy’s location is in the works for Imperial Beach.

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Nov. 19, 2018
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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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