The “Shack,” as I lovingly refer to it, is one of my go-to North Park eateries. It sports a simple, hipster-sheik decor, with a hole-in-the-wall ordering window, and a quaint patio dining area. The roof of The Shack is resident to a giant pig statue, beckoning its patrons for miles around. Beyond that, the focus is all on the food. The flavors, as suggested by their alluring name, are a delicious blend of fresh, Mexican-inspired spices and good ole fashioned, messy, American BBQ. To date, I’ve eaten at Carnitas Snack Shack at least twice a month, and I don’t plan on stopping.
The menu is small, but full of potent amalgams of shredded pork, melted cheese, and tri-tip. Of course, as is customary in most quality North Park restaurants, the ingredients are all fresh and prepared from scratch. If it’s your first time, go straight for the “Steak Sando.” It’s a mass of sliced ribeye, coated in a chipotle aioli, smashed in between two pieces of freshly baked, cheese-crusted jalapeno bread.
The first time I ate it, I swore to my girlfriend that I felt a divine presence in the empty seat next to us. It wasn’t classy, or couth, but the only response I could muster after the first bite was a resounding “Unh.” It’s creamy, spicy, messy, and an altogether singular experience. I have yet to find a steak sandwich ANYWHERE as creative, or as satisfying as The Shack’s variation. Naturally, I washed it down with a Ballast Point, Sculpin IPA and (somehow) managed to finish a side of their crispy fries and freshly-made ketchup.
My girlfriend, Jessica, had the “Triple-Threat Pork Sando”. If you aren’t in the mood for beef, go for this one. They jam pork loin schnitzel, pulled pork, and BACON into a menage a trois of flavor explosion. If I wasn’t so full from the Steak Sando, I might have stolen more from her plate. After her first bite, Jessica’s reaction was even more dramatic than mine. She paused for a moment, and looked up at me with a certain vulnerability, as if to suggest the flavors had arrested her ability to control her own body. It was a testament to the quality of the Shack’s food. You can do no wrong when selecting from their menu!
Trust me when I say, that if you venture to the greater San Diego area and don’t stop here for lunch, you will be punished in the afterlife. In truth, my first dining experience at the shack was transcendent. I can’t think of a time in recent memory that I was as impressed with a restaurant. So please, do yourself a favor and eat here. Get their early though. The line to order has a tendency of wrapping around the corner.