We’re not sure when it happened, but there was a pork belly awakening in America. Everybody seems to have stopped caring how fatty it is, and embracing how crazy delicious it is. Here are some of the best spots to find it in OC, LA, and beyond.
Citizen Kitchen has been rocking Hotel Fullerton with a slew of dishes that will fire you right up. Among them is their “Pork in a Comforter”, an awesome take on Pigs in a Blanket, with braised pork belly baked in pastry crust, roasted chile pesto aioli, and stout ketchup. You’ll be proud to be a citizen of this kitchen.
PIG PEN DELICACY
SANTA ANA, CA
In case you’re wondering, yes, 4th Street Market is still crushing it. Pig Pen Delicacy features, you guessed it, a pork-based menu. With dishes like their pork belly slider: crispy pork belly, pickled daikon, hoisin sauce, and creamy cilantro sauce. As well as their pork belly fries (!!), with said crispy pork belly, melted cheese, pico de gallo and creamy cilantro sauce. You want those things.
LA COUNTY FAIR'S BACON-WRAPPED PORK BELLY CORNDOG
If you’re a fried fiend, the LA Fair is where you want to be. They’re deep-frying everything in sight, including a bacon-wrapped pork belly corndog. Plus, things just taste better when you eat them off a stick.
Irvine’s favorite comfort food/Korean fusion has also been playing with pork belly in top-notch ways. Urban Seoul’s pork belly tacos will blow your mind, as they’re loaded with dressed lettuce, kimchi, queso fresco, gochu jang aioli, and house hot sauce. If tacos aren’t your style (but really, who doesn’t like tacos), perhaps you might go for the chorizo kimchi fried rice, with chorizo, pork belly, pickled red onions, kimchi, garlic rice, and a sunny side up egg. Or, you could always get both.
KITAKATA RAMEN BAN NAI
COSTA MESA, CA
It’s almost as fun to eat the chashu at Kitakata as it is to say the word, Kitakata. When you inevitably finish your chashu ramen and find yourself in need of more pork, get in on their aburi chashu bowl for even more piggy goodness. Ramen life is the only life.
MULTIPLE LOCATIONS, CA
Despite the fact that it’s a chain, Angelinos have opened their arms to Mendocino Farms more and more over the years. They’ve got a multitude of knockout sandwiches, including seasonal specialties, but their real prize is the Kurobuta Pork Belly Banh Mi. Braised and caramelized pork belly comes with traditional pickled daikon and carrots, jalapeños, and cilantro as well as not-so-traditional chili aioli on a not-so-traditional ciabatta. It’s one of the best sandwiches in LA, period.
OI ASIAN FUSION
Filipino eats are making a comeback in a big way. This super casual East Hollywood spot is serving up absolutely killer rice bowls and burgers. Their Adobo Bowl comes with rice, scallions, a soft boiled egg, adobo sauce, and some of the most outrageously tender pork belly you can find in LA. And trust us, try the hot sauce.
NEW YORK, NY (& SUNDAYS IN LOS ANGELES, CA)
Do you love tacos as big as your face? Of course you do. Goa Taco combines Indian and Mexican cooking in a perfect, flaky, croissant-like tortilla, which they call a “Paratha taco”. They’ve got a multitude of amazing tacos, but you can continue your pork belly quest with a Paratha taco stuffed full of slow-roasted pork belly, pickled red onion, and chipotle mayo. Though the main location is in New York, you can also grab one at Smorgasburg in DTLA’s Arts District every Sunday until September.
MICKLETHWAIT CRAFT MEATS
In East Austin, Mickelthwait is whipping up craft meats the likes of which will blow your mind. Every meat is a grand slam, but you definitely want to get in on the pork belly andouille sausage, which is a beautiful, holy union of two of Earth’s most wonderful meats. You’ll want to take advantage of their incredible sides too, like the lemon poppy seed coleslaw or the jalapeño cheese grits. Meats be praised!
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Wilder Shaw is a Los Angeles based food writer who is probably eating poke right now. Argue about the pronunciation with him on Twitter at @WilderShaw_ and Instagram at @wildershaw.
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