If you’ve spent the past several months hungrily scrolling through TikTok’s “For You” page or getting inspiration from Instagram foodies, you’ve probably come across birria tacos. Birria is a Mexican stew traditionally made from shredded goat meat, though beef is a common substitute. There are plenty of variations, but the basic recipe is this:
- Cook the meat low and slow in a broth of water, spices and veggies.
- Then, add a blended sauce with some combination of chilies, tomatoes, spices, onions and garlic.
- Once the meat is finished cooking, coat tortillas in the remaining broth and fry them with meat, onions, cheese and cilantro until crispy.
- The crisp tacos are served with lime and the remaining broth for dipping.
It’s hard to know why certain foods suddenly surge in algorithm-fueled popularity, but the appeal of birria tacos is pretty obvious. They’re photo-ready, decadent and strike the right balance between unique and familiar: even if you haven’t tried this specific dish, most of the ingredients are probably in your pantry right now. Plus, who doesn’t want to try a new way to eat tacos? (Okay, birria tacos aren’t actually new, but they haven’t been a regular staple on Utah menus.)
If you want to make birria tacos at home, there are plenty of viral recipes to choose from. But if, like me, you’d rather leave it to the pros, the West Valley Mexican restaurant La Casa Del Tamal is one Utah spot serving this crispy, tender taco goodness. Their version is simple and effective—juicy beef, cilantro, onion, lots of gooey cheese and of course the stew for dipping, which is packed with flavor.
La Casa Del Tamal’s social media savvy is no accident. Owner Cristina Olivera’s daughter Frida Guerrero helped the family business stay afloat through a difficult 2020 by gaining followers on Instagram. According to The Salt Lake Tribune, Guerrero persuaded her mom to add birria tacos to the menu after the trend took off online. The restaurant grew a loyal following, and last November Olivera moved to a new, larger location. The updated modern space is a sleek revision of your typical mom-and-pop joint, but the family business atmosphere remains—as do the affordable prices. The restaurant’s other signature dish is $2 tamales, (they claim to make the best in Utah) and I tried each of the four varieties—verdes de pollo, rojos de puerco, rajas con queso and mole poblano. They are indeed delicious, and the portions are generous too, meaning you can leave fully satisfied for less than $10. That’s the kind of crowd pleasing that suggests La Casa Del Tamal will thrive long after the Internet finds a new cheesy obsession.
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