Food & Drink

Where to Find LA’s Best Birria

This Jalisco-born dish gets its Instagram moment.

The beef birria trend began in 2016 with young, social media savvy entrepreneurs like Birrieria Gonzalez’s Oscar Gonzalez, and Teddy Vasquez of Teddy’s Red Tacos. The scene exploded in 2018 after continued success by vendors like Tacos Y Birria La Unica. But even the birria wars of 2018 couldn’t satisfy LA’s insatiable appetite for beef birria, as Birriamania continues to grow. 

There’s so much beef birria in LA that NYC and Chicago food writers cite and refer to LA as the origin of their beef birria trucks, as a national trend has caught on with Mexican communities across the USA. Beef birria in LA makes sense as we are less than three hours away from Tijuana’s Tacos Fito’s or the many other top birria de res stands in Baja California.

For the uninitiated: Birria is a stew usually made with goat, lamb, or beef, but has even more iterations in the Mexican state of Jalisco, considered the cradle of traditional birria, a dish that is also a definitive Mexican breakfast plate. It can be made with fish, pork, veal, chicken, deer, rabbit, and even wild animals like badger, but the cooking technique, to rub the protein in an adobo made with chiles, spices, herbs, and vinegar, then cook it in an earthen pit similar to barbacoa is pre-Hispanic in origin. You’ll find delicious goat birria in the neighboring states of Zacatecas, and Aguascalientes, but birria, like tequila, comes alive in all of Jalisco’s 125 municipalities where one could find subregional presentations in each community. 

In Jalisco, birria, which means something ugly or unpleasant looking, is pit-roasted, oven-roasted, cooked in a clay pot, pressure cooked, or steamed–it’s birria tatemada (oven roasted) in Cocula, beef head birria in Mascota, and in El Arenal lamb birria is steamed and has notes of orange blossom. Meat drippings from the cooking process are used separately to make the consomme, or clear soup broth, and the accompaniments are salsa brava (a spicy tomato sauce) made with chile yahualica (regional variety of chile de árbol), onions, cilantro, lime wedges, and sliced radishes, among others depending on the region. 

Birria jalisciense is sold all over Mexico regardless of whether local traditions call for it; the name simply commands authority for Jalisco’s dedication to this dish. In Baja California, beef birria stewed in a large pot where the stock and meat are cooked as one dish and it’s this rendition of Jalisco’s classic that has grown an audience in Los Angeles and throughout the US.
Nationally, a simple stovetop birria made with beef or other proteins is a common stew that’s akin to a juicy Mexican shredded beef pot roast, served in burritos like from the famous Zacatecan chain, Burritos La Palma, or on plate with rice and beans.  

Birria jalisciense has been served in Los Angeles for decades, as well as birria from other Mexican states at family restaurants like Birriería Jalisco in Lynwood, Birriería Chalio, and Birriería La Barca which have grown in local mini-chains. Saturday morning hangovers, and Sunday mornings after church in LA are big business for our local birrieros whether at stands, backyard birrierías, food trucks or brick and mortars, yet in recent years, Tijuana-style beef birria has become an LA pastime, with each neighborhood boasting dozens of vendors. 

Craving birria yet? Check out these ten spots in Los Angeles that serve goat or beef birria:

Birreria Apatzingan

Pacoima

One of the best goat birrias in town occupies one side of an Arleta convenience store; it’s cooked in a large pot and served as a rich soup perfumed with dried ginger, bay leaf, cloves, and cumin, representing Michoacan’s Tierra Caliente region. 
How to order: Call for pickup

Birrieria Calvillo Aguas

El Monte

The Landeros family opened an LA branch of Primos Landeros from the Mercado de Calvillo in Calvillo, Aguascalientes, highlighting Aguascalientes-style birria, which comes as a soup with a tomatoey broth finished with chopped onions, a fiery house salsa, and dried oregano. 
How to order: Call for pickup

El Jalisciense

Boyle Heights

Head to Hector Ramirez’s stand in Boyle Heights for a legit version of birria tatemada, or oven-roasted goat birria, with tender cuts of smoky goat full of char marks and well-browned flesh served with a light, tangy consomme made from the goat’s drippings. 
How to order: Order in-person at their stand (3436 E Olympic Blvd, 90023), open on Saturdays from 8am until they sell out.

Birrieria Jalisco

Pico Rivera and Lynwood

From a family recipe handed down to Don Bonifacio by his uncle, he opened this Guadalajara-style birriería--now a mini-chain--to create a familial environment to order heaping plates of mixed goat birria, and whole goat shanks served with a delicious consomme from a recipe that’s over 100 years old. 
How to order: Patio dining and takeout or delivery via DoorDash

Available for Delivery/Takeout

Birrieria Nochistlan ZAC

Boyle Heights

One of LA’s most respected families of birrieros, the Moreno’s from Nochistlán, Zacatecas, offer a goat-forward birria, simply seasoned, that’s best enjoyed as a plate of meat, bones, and consomme dressed with lime, chopped onions and cilantro, and lots of spicy salsa de chile de árbol.  
How to order: Call for pickup

Burritos La Palma

El Monte and Santa Ana

Alberto Bañuelos’s irresistible beef birria burritos are a typical guisado that’s like a Mexican shredded beef pot roast in a gravy of mild chiles, herbs, and spices that enhances the slow cooked beef, that’s complemented with brush of refried beans and wrapped in a fine flour tortilla.  
How to order: Call the restaurant directly for takeout and delivery

L.A. Birria

Central LA

Birria pizza, crispy birria tostadas, quesatacos (beef birria and melted cheese), beef birria tacos, and Birriamen (ramen in beef birria broth created in 2014 by chef Antonio de Liver) sold in an Arlington Heights strip mall celebrate LA’s flavorful world of beef birria trends.
How to order: Pickup and delivery through the restaurant

Tacos El Morro

Boyle Heights

It’s hard to beat the tacos dorados de quesabirria, or Guadalajara-style birria de res with dried cheese in birria-soaked corn tortillas seared crispy on this Boyle Heights food truck’s flat top, which is a wise choice if you’re looking for a quick shot of Sunday morning beef birria.  
How to order: Call for pickup

Taquizas Gilberto

La Puente

The barbacoa here is exceptional but birria lovers will flip over a pair of tacos dinamitas, or dynamite sticks, which are goat birria flautas, that are birria-basted, repeatedly, with consomme on a flat top grill until crispy and lightly blackened.
How to order: Call for pickup

Teddys Red Tacos

Various locations

Taquero and LA street luminary, Teddy Vasquez, helped empower Mexican food truck operators with his deft marketing on social media, and deluxe plate of assorted beef birria tacos stained red from a rich crimson broth that serves as both colorant and delicious commodity.
How to order: Follow their food trucks on IG or head to the DTLA location for outside dining