LAReview

photo credit: Jessie Clapp

Birrieria Apatzingan image
8.5

Birrieria Apatzingan

Mexican

Pacoima

$$$$Perfect For:LunchBreakfast
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Since you're here, we're going to assume that you're as excited by LA's vast array of amazing Mexican food as we are. Perhaps you've even tasted its delicious variety around town, from uni-topped tostadas, to fancy soft-shell crab tacos, to high-end spots where plates of duck carnitas are put together with tweezers. We're into all that, but there's a time and place for the basics, too. So when we want the simple joys of dunking fresh tortillas into a steaming bowl of goat birria, we head to Birrieria Apatzingan in the San Fernando Valley.

At this Pacoima favorite, the Michoacan-style cooking is comforting and consistently exceptional, which is the reason why—even if you're driving across multiple freeways to get there—it belongs on any respectable list of the best Mexican restaurants in LA.

Birrieria Apatzingan image

photo credit: Jessie Clapp

Birrieria Apatzingan image

photo credit: Matt Gendal

Birrieria Apatzingan image

photo credit: Jessie Clapp

Birrieria Apatzingan image

photo credit: Jessie Clapp

Birrieria Apatzingan image

photo credit: Jessie Clapp

Birrieria Apatzingan image
Birrieria Apatzingan image
Birrieria Apatzingan image
Birrieria Apatzingan image
Birrieria Apatzingan image

The lunch rush is the best and worst time to come here. This place is tiny. Birrieria Apatzingan is sandwiched between a convenience store and a recycling center, leaving enough room for just six tables. But there's something comforting about a cramped meal here. Families with kids and coworkers wearing scrubs pour in for a quick lunch, filling the room with needed chatter. Sitting here in silence means listening to static-y reggaeton on the radio, as pots clank in the kitchen and industrial refrigerators roar louder than your dad's snoring. There's not much else going on here besides dangling mini piñatas and the wall mural of the chef's hometown, and that's perfectly fine. The regional dishes coming out of the kitchen are so good everything else blurs away into irrelevance. 

Part of why we love this place is that some of its best dishes aren't commonly found elsewhere. Take the morisqueta—a Michoacan specialty of fatty, cartilage-y pork spare ribs stewed in a spicy salsa roja, poured over soft white rice then blanketed in queso cotija. There's also something called an aporreadillo that looks like a salsa-drenched egg scramble with softened dried beef that keeps its crispy edges. But if you're coming here alone or simply want one thing from the relatively long menu, get the goat birria en su caldo. The chivo, juicy and tender after letting loose in bubbling consommé, absorbs the fragrant red broth. This soup has layers—cumin, a sweet smooch of cinnamon, and lots of smoke from dried chiles that bleed red. It's a casual birria experience made special by all of the high-quality ingredients, including the kitchen's pillowy, plump tortillas on the side. 

Heads up: Birrieria Apatzingan is cash-only. But other than this mild inconvenience, this small restaurant is easy to love. Even in a place with enough noteworthy Mexican spots to overwhelm a sophisticated AI chatbot, this six-table spot stands out. It's refreshingly gimmick-free and the perfect place to lose yourself in a steamy bowl of birria on a lunch break.

Food Rundown

Birrieria Apatzingan image

photo credit: Jessie Clapp

Morisqueta Con Costillas

Everything about this dish is comforting. The fatty spare ribs are hydrated in warm salsa roja, the rice is tender and slightly chewy, and there's a nice hit of salt from the avalanche of cotija on top.

Birrieria Apatzingan image

photo credit: Jessie Clapp

Aporreadillo

On its own, this wet, salty egg scramble is good. But inside a warm, chewy corn tortilla, it's a fantastic breakfast taco. The salsa brings heat and softens the eggs, and the chunks of dried meat are perfect little bursts of beefiness.

Birrieria Apatzingan image

photo credit: Jessie Clapp

Tacos Dorados

If you want something crackly and fried but not too heavy, these tacos dorados are perfect. They're tiny two-bite taquitos, not too greasy, and come filled with either mashed potatoes or shredded chicken. Our suggestion: get two of each.

Birrieria Apatzingan image

photo credit: Jessie Clapp

Birria en Caldo

This is our favorite goat birria in Los Angeles. If this goat (RIP) could talk, the word “gamey” would not exist in its vocabulary. It’s luscious and juicy, and soaks up the beautifully seasoned broth. There’s just the right punch of salt and subtle smoke from the chiles, which means it’s hard not to finish the entire bowl even once the meat and tortillas are gone.

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FOOD RUNDOWN

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