Carnitas' Snack Shack Seen in USA Today

July 15, 2013

“Small, but mighty,” says USA Today about San Diego restaurant Carnitas’ Snack Shack….

How to eat well on a budget in San Diego

Your San Diego summer-vacation checklist:

1. High-octane sunscreen.

2. Boogie board.

3. Flip-flops.

4. Our guide to the locals’ favorite bargain restaurants.

After rejoicing that it isn’t 110 degrees and wearing yourself out playing in the cool Pacific Ocean, head inland to eat. These tips from San Diego foodies will serve you well and save you money.

These eight restaurants prepare good, honest food with surprisingly fair prices. Nothing we tried cost more than $20, and most dishes were under $10.

Carnitas’ Snack Shack

The restaurant scene in the North Park neighborhood is strong. Quite a few former white-tablecloth chefs have opened small places with limited menus catering to local hipsters, of which there are many.

Setting a high standard among these chefs is Hanis Cavin and his small but mighty Carnitas’ Snack Shack. Tasty, porky treats are served from a kitchen that seems impossibly small. Diners approach a sidewalk window in a building reminiscent of a World war II pillbox structure and place their orders. Line cooks standing cheek to jowl knock out more than 2,000 pounds of pork shoulder per week. That’s a ton of carnitas.

The BLT includes shaved ham as a condiment and is served on lighter-than-air brioche from a local baker. The Triple Threat sandwich combines a perfectly fried pork-loin schnitzel with pulled pork, bacon and peperoncini-pickle relish. And order the carnitas tacos so you can die happy.

Price: Less than $17 for two courses, excluding beverage, tax and tip. (Good luck getting past two courses.)

Details: 2632 University Ave., San Diego. 619-294-7675,