If your town has a large grocery store, you can buy your meat in the meat section there, however, it will likely be fairly old meat. For the freshest cuts, buy your meat before 11 am at the carnicería.
Butcher establishments are often marked with a red flag rather than a sign.
If the carnicería does boast some signage, you can be sure both a pig and cow will be predominately featured just so there’s no mistaking what meat items can be found there.
Any and all pig or cow bits can be bought at the carnicería. Typically the animal is butchered at el rastro that morning and brought by meat delivery trucks. Our area is serviced by el rastro out by the sewage treatment plant. You can take your own pig or cow there to be butchered and come back with the entire pieced animal in buckets in the back of your truck. The Mexican government provides a guidebook for butchering meat at el rastro here.
Meat at the carnicería is bought by the kilo or by a specific price. You can ask to have it cut to a specific size. When my husband buys meat he tells the butcher what he wants to cook and he’ll get what he wants. For example, “$200 pesos de carne para menudo” and the butcher will give him pata, bufi, and panza, the meat ingredients for menudo.
Just like moo-cows, piggies came along with the Spanish conquistadores and were embraced by the indigenous Mexicans with open arms (or rather open mouths). Pozole, once reserved for the priests and elite, now became the dish of the common man since pork could replace the human meat used to make this delicacy. Apparently, they taste about the same.
These days, you can often find a bubbling vat of carnitas at every street corner and a line of hungry pork devotees lined up halfway down the block. Carnitas are a bit greasy for me first thing in the morning, but I can’t deny their popularity. Should you wish to eat a little pork, here’s a chart to help you get what you actually want when buying at the carnicería.