Birria de Res, Estilo Baja California: It's What's For Breakfast

Categories: Tijuana Sí!
Bill Esparza
Birria de res

Birria is something you'll find in every part of Mexico, and the most famous versions come from Jalisco and Zacatecas (where our jefe comes from). In those states they roast the goat in a natural or conventional oven, using the drippings to make a rich cumin-laced stock and serve every part of the goat imaginable. Birria means an ugly mess, but staring into a bowl of goat floating in a brick-red sauce is truly a thing of beauty--especially after a night involving bottle of tequila chased by a case of beer at a local bar in Talpa de Allende, Jalisco.  

But birria is just the name of the dish, and any protein can be used: goat, lamb, or beef are the most popular preparations, but even seafood is an option. In Baja you'll find goat birria from Jaliscans, and Chef Javier Plascencia's Erizo Fish Market even has fish birria, but the stew pot version of birria de res, or beef birria is king in Baja California. Every Tijuanense has their favorite, to try to persuade them otherwise could end a friendship. You can find birria stands all over the city, and in Baja in general, but Tacos Fito's and Birrieria La 5ta are two Tijuana street veterans that deliver Baja breakfast tradition, fast and hot. 

Bill Esparza
Birria de res en caldo

Tijuanenses have their birria de res two ways--in tacos, or in caldos, or soups, poured into a Styrofoam cup served with a stack of corn tortillas baptized in the crimson waters of the slow cooked soup. 

Bill Esparza

Birrieria La 5ta (5th St.), which has confusing signage from when they were Birrieria La 4ta(4th St.) starts their day just like all other competitors, with a large stock pot full of their secret recipe which cranks our birria de res until the vessel runs dry. Tongue in a rich broth is their other offering. Most of these vendors have a second choice which can either be had by itself or campechano (mixed).

Bill Esparza
Tacos of birria de res and lengua at Birrieria La 5ta, Tijuana

Weekends are made for birria de res in Tijuana--it's one of the privileges of the working class, available in the pinche madrugada (dawn) for those on their way to work; it's a headache-resistant dose of nutrition for the drunks on their way home, and something for the whole family in the late morning. 

Their taco de birria was well-seasoned on its own, but needed a bit more wetness--this is achieved in the cup-of-soup version.

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