La Barbacoa Autentica de Borrego is a spot that specializes in delicious meats affordably sold by the kilo, served ready to be stuffed into high-quality tortillas. A fragrant pot of comsomé de borrego stews on a burner, filling the surrounding air with its delectable aroma of simmered lamb and vegetables. The eatery also offers antojitos such as quesadillas, tacos, and tlacoyos. However, what you want to order is the Lamb Mixiote, a bone-in lamb roast lovingly braised until it becomes wobbly and spoon-tender. As with the consomé, the meat and its brown juices are rich, flavorful, and bear enough muskiness to remind you that you’re eating lamb, but not so much as to overwhelm you with funk.
The Barbacoa de Borrego (Mexican lamb barbecue) is the house specialty, and it too has that feel of jiggly, sweaty meat, but leaner and more concentrated — more lamb-like. I prefer La Barbacoa Autentica de Borrego’s mixiote. Still, I’d gladly have the barbacoa meat in the tacos or taco dorados (what most “taco shops” in San Diego claim to be ‘rolled tacos’). The house’s excellent tortillas are hand-made out of fresh masa supplied by nearby Tortilleria Lily, who are rightly known for producing some of San Diego’s finest corn tortillas.
If you’re looking for a free-standing building, a street stand, or even a food truck, finding this under-the-radar operation will be difficult. The publically visible portion La Barbacoa amounts to a few banquet tables and folding chairs in a dulcería called “Candyland” in the middle of City Heights. Candyland is a well-trafficked tiendita frequented by nicotine fiends in the morning, kids from the nearby middle school in the afternoon, and connoisseurs of barbacoa on the weekends. As good as La Barbacoa is, it is not Candyland’s “money maker.” La Barbacoa is more a labor of love for owner Alfredo Teón, a humble and soft-spoken gentleman who is as committed to the quality of what comes from his kitchen as I am to eating all of it.
Taco Scores: Taco Suave de Barbacoa (90), Taco Dorado de Barbacoa (85)
Jay Recommends: Lamb Mixiote, Lamb Consomé
La Barbacoa Autentica de Borrego (inside Cenaduria de Candy Land); 3502 Fairmount Ave, San Diego, CA 92105; Friday through Sunday from 8:00am-2:00pm; (619) 516-1627