I’ve chronicled the birria de res trend in Texas since it first began to take off about two years ago. I’ve sussed out birria’s earliest practitioners in the Lone Star State and documented how the style traveled from its birthplace in Jalisco, Mexico, to California and into Texas via immigration and social media. I’ve documented its increasing importance to the survival of taquerias, including Maskaras Mexican Grill in Dallas, as well as how birria can be found in surprising locales, such as the burritos and crunchy tacos stronghold of the Permian Basin. I’ve reviewed a food truck that serves birria de res in ramen and explored how the meat came to be mixed with the instant noodles. Even pitmasters have taken a shine to it.
You can expect to see this massive trend continue to grow and evolve. Texas chefs are integrating birria into grilled cheese sandwiches, putting it on pizza, wrapping it in griddled costra tacos, and even stuffing it in wontons. These new iterations are exciting, but you still can’t go wrong with a classic birria taco. Below are three of my favorites from across the state.
1. King Kups
This three-year-old food trailer, parked outside an Exxon gas station, initially sold only cups of elote, the Mexican corn treat, but it soon expanded the menu to include tacos, enchiladas, and desserts. Like many taquerias across Texas, King Kups recently added popular birria, a meat-based Mexican stew, to its offerings. Its birria de res tacos (above) are filled with shredded beef (res) cushioned by a melted quesillo-cheddar combo and are then crisped up on the flattop griddle. The cheddar, says owner Frank Hernandez, adds a salty, fuller flavor to the taco, which is served with a vermilion consommé of birria broth. Save room for an order of wontons also stuffed with the birria mixture. 202 N. Central Expy; 214-994-6304
2. La Tunita 512
When Gerardo “Jerry” Guerrero, a native of San Luis Potosí, Mexico, opened his taco trailer in November 2019, the birria, then a weekends-only offering, was made with goat. Sales were slow, but when he switched to a luscious chile guajillo and brisket birria a month later, customers began lining up. Birria de res is now the focus of his menu. Order the quesotaco (one of several names for a birria taco with cheese), which features juicy chopped beef inside a griddled-cheese shell atop a corn tortilla, making it sturdy enough to handle a good soak in the consommé. 2400 Burleson Rd; 512-679-0708
3. Birrieria Aguiñaga
Though newer taco operations have gone all in on birria de res, birria was originally made with goat or lamb in the Mexican state of Jalisco, the birthplace of the dish. The Aguiñaga family has been serving classic birria de borrego (lamb) since 2006, first at the original Birrieria Aguiñaga restaurant, in Dallas, and now at all six North Texas locations. Brimming with tender meat, these tacos are Texas’s gold standard for the traditional style and protein. 2829 W. Northwest Hwy; 214-353-2773
This article originally appeared in the March 2021 issue of Texas Monthly with the headline “Dunkin’ Tacos.” Subscribe today.