Cafe Chihuahua is pregnant with possibilities
My wife's carnitas de puerco plate was no less satisfying. The shredded pork glistened with its own fat and was tender enough to cut with a fork, yet firm enough to distinguish itself from the damp, mushy mess common in the world of slow-cooked pork. So often, carnitas are little more than lumps of stewed pork or flavorless dry shreds, but this shoulder was clearly given just the right amount of heat, time and fat to yield sublime results.
Between the burritos, stolen bites of carnitas and a sizzling cast iron skillet of queso fundido studded with chorizo, I could barely conceive of the concept of more food. But there at the checkout counter was a glass case filled with fruit-filled empanadas. These were destined to become a late-night snack, with the pineapple and pumpkin versions the stars.
I can't blame anyone for wanting to seek out a replica of that perfect meal they had while on vacation in Puerto Vallarta, or for wanting to repeat the experience of that first taqueria taco -- in a part of town that they had been told was "sketchy" -- that forever changed their concept of what Mexican food could be. But sometimes the word "authentic" can be a shibboleth, a wink to fellow restaurant hoppers or world travelers who have discovered the holy grail of a specific ethnic cuisine. Sometimes they're right, but sometimes you just have to go with your gut.