What You Didn't Know About Birria Tacos

Birria tacos are the ultimate winter comfort food. What more could you ask for than warm beefy stew and crisp veggies piled atop bright red crispy tortillas and dipped in more glorious red stewy sauce? They might not have made it to the top of every taco trucks' classic lineup of carnitas, carne asada, pollo, and the rest, but this twist on the classic taco out of Tijuana is making a splash (literally) in hungry mouths across the US (via Eater).

So first: what exactly is in birria tacos? For the sake of simplicity, let's look at the version that's been appearing at trucks and takeout joints in America. Birria is a type of stew that's traditionally made with goat but transformed into beef slow-cooked in adobo, a mixture of chiles, onion, garlic, vinegar, and spices, according to Claudette Zepeda of Food & Wine. Birria tacos typically serve up that stewy beef in crisped-up tacos that have first been dipped in the adobo liquid, then topped with onion and cilantro and served with a side of — yes — more birria liquid. The red birria gives the tacos their signature bright orange-red hue, and they can be crunchy, almost like a hard shell taco (via Eater).

The origins of tacos de birria

Birria may have originated in Tijuana in the '60s after a man named Don Guadalupe Zárate moved there from a town south of Mexico City and switched the recipe from goat to beef, adding more liquid and selling the stew at his street stand, according to Eater. By the '80s, birria tacos had gained some popularity at taco stands in Tijuana — although, interestingly enough, these tacos were served only for breakfast. By the early 2000s, young Mexican-Americans like Omar and Oscar Gonzalez and Teddy Vasquez had tried them and knew they had something their community in the US would love.

The pioneering Gonzalez brothers brought birria to Los Angeles in 2015 with Birrieria Gonzalez, and Vasquez started Teddy's Red Tacos a year later. They made a splash in the food truck scene, selling the classic tacos along with Americanized versions that added in cheese (called quesabirrias) but stayed true to birria's Poblano roots, per Eater. Instagram helped them gain devoted followers and fueled an explosion in popularity for birria across the country. Now, birria is a comfort food go-to. You can even find birria ramen, birria pizza, even birria pho — if you know where to look. So go forth, taco lovers, and birria.