Carnitas’ Snack Shack

If you find yourself wandering along the Embarcadero between the Cruise Ship Terminal and Broadway Street Pier, you may want to check out the Carnitas’ Snack Shack right on the waterfront for an informal lunch, happy hour, or dinner.

I had never been there before, and I wondered if it catered to the tourist crowd, with the quality and value suffering a bit. I was pleasantly surprised.

I stopped there for lunch on a Tuesday, and had my eye on the Smokey Pig Sandwich until the young woman at the window reminded me it was Taco Tuesday. Normally, you would get two carnitas tacos for $13, but on Taco Tuesday, they bump it up to three tacos for the same price. A fountain soda or iced tea to accompany the meal was $4.

The tacos were corn tortillas generously stuffed with carnitas, Pico de Gallo, and homemade guacamole. They served salsa in a container on the side—and it packed some heat. Overall, the tacos were flavorful and the pork was tender without being dry. They were quite filling and ended up being my main meal of the day.

The majority of the seating is in open sun, so make sure you have a hat and sunglasses to enjoy your meal. The only downside to the location right now—and this is beyond the restaurant’s ability to control—was nearby pier construction with a pile-driver installing a new pier piling. The noise was excessive and it would have been difficult to carry on a conversation. (It likely stops at the end of the workday, so Happy Hour and an evening meal would be fine.)

The staff were helpful and friendly; the food was good and plentiful; and it’s likely that I’ll explore more items on their menu in the future.

Explore San Diego and beyond.

Click photos to enlarge.

What You Need to Know

Location:1004 N Harbor Dr., San Diego, CA 92101
Transit:MTS Buses 923 or 992; walking distance to the Santa Fe Depot and its transit connections
Hours:Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.
Phone:(619) 696-7675
Cost:$$ ($20)
Tips:There is metered parking along Harbor Drive near the San Diego Maritime Museum.
All seating appears to be outdoors, some in direct sun, and some in shade. Dress for possible cool breezes off the water.
Date Visited:16 May 2023

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