LAGuide

The Best Birria In LA

Seven spots for chivo, res, questacos, and smoky consommé.
The Best Birria In LA image

Unless you've avoided the internet for the past five years (or left civilization to join a commune in the woods), there's a good chance you're already hip to the birria craze. This traditional Mexican stewed meat is a full-on celebrity in LA's food truck scene and a specialty at various restaurants across town, some of whom have been making it way before TikTok foodies had internet access. Los Angeles is home to a wide range of birria dishes, with everything from traditional Jalisco-style goat birria and Tijuana-style quesatacos, to contemporary creations like birria ramen. It's a lot to take in, but start with these seven places that do birria best.

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Matt Gendal

Mexican

Pico Union

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El Parian has a couple of "bests" under its belt, like some of LA's best pozole and (as this guide implies) some of the best birria. Goat is the house specialty at this Pico-Union classic, which you can order by the pound or as a stew—the superior choice. That's because the consommé the meat swims in is deliciously zingy and citrusy, rich in flavor but not greasy in the slightest. The fatty chunks of goat meat barely hang on to the bones in your bowl, making it easy to assemble some DIY tacos with their handmade tortillas. Cash only. 

photo credit: Stan Lee

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If we had to choose just one Tijuana-style birria spot—a decision we really do not want to make—it would be Birrieria Gonzalez. That's because this South Central truck adds multiple kinds of dried chiles to its consommé until it's dark and smoky. The piles of slow-cooked beef soak up the spicy broth like a fresh mop, and the tortillas are lightly stained like the napkins we use to wipe spicy birria drippings off our grubby faces. Eating curbside tacos dorados Birriera Gonzalez is the closest we've found to late-night birria in Tijuana, except without the hours spent in border traffic afterward. 


Tacos Y Birria La Unica is all about options. With both beef and goat versions on the menu, you can order their spicy, chile-braised birria as a taco, quesataco, mulita, or even in a cup of ramen while visiting this Boyle Heights destination (with a second location in Mid-City). We stick to the holy trinity, though: a goat taco, a beef taco, and a goat quesataco. When it comes to their quesataco, La Unica gently griddles housemade corn tortillas to a pleasant crunch before stuffing them with juicy meat and lots of molten white cheese. Pour on their habañero salsa for an extra dose of heat.


As you might've guessed from the logo's cute smiley cow, this local mini-chain specializes in beef birria—specifically Jalisco-style. That means traditional birria en su jugo is on the menu, a perfectly salted, just-spicy-enough soup full of juicy, shredded beef to get the cogs in your brain moving on a Saturday morning. The rest of the menu at this Van Nuys window, however, leans more Tijuana-style, like crispy cheese-lined quesatacos with a side of consommé for dunking. San Marcos consistently nails the ratios of meat, cheese, and oil in every order, which is why it's a reliable go-to every time we're nearby. 


The Best Tacos In Los Angeles image

LA Guide

The Best Tacos In Los Angeles

This might sound like a clue on a scavenger hunt, but you'll find our favorite goat birria in LA tucked between a convenience store and a recycling center. That's Birrieria Apatzingan, a small, six-table restaurant in Pacoima that serves big steaming bowls of slow-cooked goat. The Michoacan-style chivo here is stewed until it collapses into tender threads, and the broth is so well-seasoned with hits of cumin, cinnamon, and dried chiles competing for your attention. The warm handmade tortillas on the side are pillowy and plump yet sturdy enough to double as spoons for hot soup. 


Full transparency—not much will get us out of bed before 8am on a weekend. This goat birria tatemada is a major exception. Birrieria El Jaliscenece is a weekend-only goat roast that sets up at the corner of Olympic Blvd. and Spence St. in Boyle Heights. You don't have to be a morning person to feel excited to be here, especially once you get a whiff of the Jalisco-style chivo sweating inside the oven. El Jalisciense has a two-stage cooking process that's responsible for this birria's silky, fatty meat and wonderfully crackly skin (enjoy it with either fresh tortillas or as a taco dorado). This place only stays open until they run out, so come get it while it's hot. Cash only.


Arguably the most portable form of birria consumption, the birria burrito is what you need to order at this beloved Boyle Heights takeout window. Made with chewy, handmade Zacatecas-style flour tortillas, these tightly wrapped swaddles hold nothing except tender beef birria dripping in smokey consommé. That's right, no guac, cheese, or lettuce to be found—the birria is flavorful enough to stand on its own and pairs well with the buttery tortilla. Keep in mind that these burritos are small, so make like everyone else in line and order a few.


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