Metro Balderas, named for a Mexico City subway station, is well-known in the tacovore community for the D.F.-style carnitas it serves on weekends – carnitas made from not just the usual pork shoulder, but from ears, snout, stomach, tongue and every other possible component of the pig, including uterus, seethed to a luscious ripeness in bubbling vats of lard. You should really stop by for a taco or two some Saturday afternoon. If you fear the offal, you can always ask for maciza, which is like the carnitas you are probably used to, only better.
But sometimes it is not a weekend afternoon. And even if it is, you may not be in the mood for carnitas. Or you may surmise, probably correctly, that ordering maciza at Metro Balderas is like striding up to the counter at Sweet Rose Creamery, asking for tastes of bay-leaf ice cream with roasted jujube and walnuts; brown sugar butternut squash ice cream with salted sage brittle; and passion fruit froyo, then settling once again on vanilla. The choice is honorable, but it is occasionally difficult to explain to your friends.
This is why Metro Balderas also sells tacos de longaniza – a couple of honest tortillas, a sprinkling of diced onion, and generous handfuls of crumbly, well-browned pork sausage, undoubtedly made from the same pigs as the carnitas, that are well-flavored with cumin, salt and spice. Splash on a bit of the thick, green salsa, grab a bottle of Manzana Lift, and you are in your own, equally delicious taco universe. 5305 N. Figueroa Blvd., Highland Park, (323) 478-8383.