If you’re all over the latest food trends on Instagram and TikTok, you might have noticed a few viral videos of particularly scrumptious looking tacos begin to pop up around this time last year. But these weren’t your average tacos—they were griddled to a crisp, overflowing with fall-apart tender meat, and dunked in a rich, crimson-colored flavor bath. The Internet took one look at the mouthwatering dish and overnight, it seems, the birria craze was born. Let’s start with the basics, and then we’ll tell you where you can go to satisfy your cravings.
What is birria?
Birria is a flavorful Mexican stew that originated in the state of Jalisco. Traditionally, birria is made with goat, but the dish was adapted to its shredded beef taco form by way of Tijuana before gaining stateside popularity in Los Angeles. Today, most birria tacos are made by filling corn tortillas with the flavorful stewed and shredded beef, onions, and cilantro, then crisping the tacos on a griddle in the fat from the birria stew.
Some versions add melty, stringy Oaxacan cheese and are listed as quesa birria tacos. The art of the birria taco is really all about the dunk. All birria tacos are served alongside a consommé, a broth or soup made from richly flavored stock—in this case the drippings from the beef stew. Think a French dip in taco form…only way better.
Where can you find birria tacos?
Though birria tacos have been popular in several U.S. cities—from L.A. and D.C. to New York City—for almost a year now, they’re just now gaining popularity in Alabama. If you’re looking to get in on the trend, head to one of these taquerias, food trucks, or restaurants scattered across our state.
Grande Mexico (Birmingham)
Located in a Shell gas station on Highland Avenue in downtown Birmingham, Grande Mexico is an unassuming but exceptional purveyor of birria tacos. Listed on the menu as “Birria Quesatacos” Grand Mexico adds melty Oaxacan cheese to their griddled tacos, creating the perfect symphony of meaty, crispy, velvety goodness that all dissolves into flavorful bliss when dunked in the accompanying consommé. For a fun twist on the dish, try Grande Mexico’s birria chilaquiles, birria meat served over fried corn tortilla pieces topped with salsa verde and covered in cheese.
La Colonial Supermercado Y Taqueria (Huntsville)
This combination Latin grocery store and taqueria is your one-stop-shop for authentic eats to enjoy now and later. La Colonial uses fresh, housemade corn tortillas for its birria tacos that also include cheese, diced white onion, and cilantro. While you’re there we suggest trying other popular snacks like Mexican street corn or a refreshing slushie drink known as the mangonada.
Chinito’s Food Truck (Oneonta)
This food truck travels throughout Alabama but can most commonly be found in Oneonta. Other popular stops include Ragland, Odenville, Moody, and Birmingham at Good People Brewing Company. In addition to traditional birria tacos, the street food truck also serves a truly legendary creation known as a Birria Pizzadilla. The dish is made by sandwiching birria meat and cheese between two oversized tortillas, then cutting the hefty quesadilla into eight pieces pizza style. It’s made to be shared with a few friends, but we won’t judge if you polish it off on your own.
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Roosters has long been a favorite spot for locals craving Mexican and margaritas in downtown Mobile, but the eatery really took off when it introduced quesa birria tacos as a weekly special in January. Since then, the eatery has remained faithful to the birria craze, serving it each Wednesday as a special. Their version includes a crispy corn tortilla cooked in chili oil and filled with slow-cooked beef, onion, cilantro, tomato, and cheese. Of course, they serve it alongside rich consommé that they advertise as great for “dippin’” and sippin’”. If you go warned, be warned Roosters is known to sell out before the day’s over.
La Calle Tacos & Snacks (Trussville)
If you’re looking for an authentic end-to-end Mexican dining experience, look no further than La Calle. On the birria front, the colorful Trussville eatery sells birria tacos as well as a birria plate. Other traditional stews like menudo, pozole, and caldo de pollo also are available, as are specialty snacks like papas locas (chips, cabbage, cucumber, jicama, pickled pork skin, hot peanuts, sour cream, hot sauce) and cuculoco (cucumber filled with hot peanuts, sweet and sour candy, chamoy, and chili powder).