Each week on Destination: Food, Short Order pays tribute to the restaurants - dives and chichi joints alike - that serve South Florida's "go-to" meals. These are dishes that you think about when you're toiling at work; that you still taste in your mouth hours after you've finished them; that you'd be willing to drive for hours across this urban sprawl just to consume. Most of all, they're the eats that define the South Florida food scene. If you have a suggestion for our next Destination: Food, leave us a comment below.
Welcome to the first Destination: Food, everyone. We've got an oldie-but-a-goodie holding down the premier spot, the chicharron tacos at Lake Worth's Tacos al Carbon.
It's hard to settle on a favorite taco at Lake Worth's premier, late-night taco outfit, a group so serious about getting you the best, authentic Mexican food they can that they serve the stuff out of two edifices in the very same lot (one, a stand-alone building, the other, a decorated trailer). No matter which window you slide up to, you'll get a bevy of otherworldly taco fillings to choose from: the ever-popular, spicy/sweet al pastor; supple bits of stewed tripe; slow-cooked lengua (beef tongue) coming apart at the seams. You could make a case that any one of al Carbon's authentic originals are destination worthy, but I'm personally moved by the chicharron.
The soft, hand-made corn tortilla is piled with crispy, tubular chunks of deep-fried pig skin, then laced with onions, cilantro, and (upon request) a mound of tomato and fresh, Mexican cheese (queso fresco). How you eat it is your call - but I'm partial to getting the works, then pouring on a healthy enough slosh of al Carbon's spicy-as-hell orange salsa as to send my mouth into pleasurable shock. The crispy bits of pork rind are amazingly satisfying to bite through due to the hollow nature, like how breakfast cereal would be if it was made out of meat and served by the Gods. And they're perfectly fried without being greasy - and let's face it, a little grease after a midnight drinking binge never hurt nobody. Yup, these little puppies are emblematic of what makes honest, democratic Mexican "dining" so great: these artisan, working class cooks have taken the stuff the privileged of the world turn their nose up at, and transformed it, as if by magic, into eating at it's best. And wouldn't you know it, they're still thrilled as hell to share it with gringos like me.
Yes, Lake Worth is all the hell up there. But wouldn't you be willing make that hour-plus drive to get your hands on authentic Mexican food, hand-crafted by folks who live and breath the stuff? Shoot, I'd do it for a smidgen of al Carbon's super spicy salsa, let alone their fantastic chicharron tacos. Best of all: they cost less than $3 a pop. So set 4420 Lake Worth Rd. into your GPS, or call 561-432-8474. But do yourself a favor and make it up to Tacos al Carbon.