Besides being trendy and highly Instagrammable, birria tacos are damn delicious. Part of the novelty of the trending dish is the use of a rich consommé that the tacos are dipped in before eating. The broth adds a delicious blend of chile, garlic, and oregano flavors. Birria tacos are also distinguished by their dark crimson tortillas.
“Birria tacos come from Jalisco, Mexico,” said Chef Angel Fuentes, who has been serving up birria tacos at his Riverside restaurant Mariachi’s Dine-In on and off since March. “It is a celebratory dish and not traditionally served like a taco. The original dish is served in a bowl like a pozole. Somehow, it transformed into a crunchy taco. I saw it first in California, then it exploded everywhere.”
Fuentes said authentic birria tacos are made with barbacoa, goat, and lamb.
Variations of the culinary newcomer are common in taquerias across Fort Worth. Chefs in Fort Worth are experimenting with various cheeses, consommés (which can vary by the type and number of peppers used), and cooking techniques. While some chefs hand-dip the tortillas in the consommé before grilling them, Fuentes uses a ladle to drizzle the rich, red broth over the tacos as they grill. The chef also offers a vegan birria taco made with jackfruit, vegan cheese, and a vegan consommé.
The decision to make birria tacos a permanent fixture on Mariachi’s menu has boosted sales as overall revenue continues to take a hit from the COVID-19 pandemic, Fuentes said.
The tacos “gained some traction” before the pandemic, said Ashley Miller, Mariachi’s owner. “It blew up on social media. Everyone is like, ‘Where are these?’ So we decided to bring it back as a special.”
The bump in revenue from the birria tacos has been a “Godsend,” she said. Fuentes’ list of local restaurants that serve superlative birria tacos includes Birrieria y Taqueria Cortez (2220 E Rosedale St, 817-600-0127), Caliscience (3318 E Belknap St), El Tamaulipeco (3650 Altamesa Blvd, 817-793-3549), and Panther City BBQ (201 E Hattie St, 682-499-5618).
Fuentes and Miller said the dish isn’t just a trend. Taquerias across Fort Worth have made the California import a permanent fixture on local menus. Fuentes provided this recipe.
2 lbs barbacoa or suitable meat substitute
4 cloves garlic
4 tbsp oregano
1 diced onion
Several dried chiles (guajillo is recommended)
Several bay leaves
Boil ingredients for two to three hours or until the meat begins to fall apart. Scoop the oil off the top of the consommé and place the layer of rendered fat in a bowl. Remove and chop the barbacoa. Take a double layer or corn tortillas, dip in the set-aside oil, and place on a hot skillet. Once one side has browned, flip the shells and place cheese (Monterey jack and/or mozzarella) and meat on the crispy side of the tortilla. Once the other side has browned, fold into a taco and serve with diced onions, chopped cilantro, and a bowl of consommé.