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The L.A. TACO Guide to the Best Birria de Chivo (Goat) Tacos in Los Angeles, Mapped – Birria Week

Taco Trio from Goat Mafia. Photo by Cesar Hernandez.

Taco Trio from Goat Mafia. Photo by Cesar Hernandez.

Welcome to L.A. TACO’s Birria Week! Birria in Los Angeles is limitless, with some birrierías open for close to 50 years. Even though there’s a heated debate between birria de res and chivo. AT L.A. TACO,  we celebrate both, and the folks doing new things altogether. We’ll be exploring the many ways to find and eat birria in L.A. all week long, so make sure to check back every day this week.

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What is a birriería if not a temple to preserve and celebrate tradition and culture (...and goats?). In my family, even the mention of birria was enough to inspire excitement. My mom is from Jalisco, the famed state of birria de chivo’s origin. But I grew up eating birria on a plate or in a bowl of consomé.

Before beef took over the birria conversation, birria de chivo was long the remedy for hangovers in L.A. Growing up, the only birria tacos I ever had were the ones I would make when eating a plate—instructions are as follows: grab a piece of juicy goat, wrap it in a tortilla, and take it to the dome. But today, there are plenty of goat birrierías that serve it in taco form. The benefit of a birria de chivo taco is that it’s a faster delivery system and for people scared of bones, the goat meat is deboned (mostly).

Goat birria tacos, while not as widely available as their beef counterparts, can be found throughout Southeast L.A. and East L.A.

These are the birrierías that offer birria de chivo as a taco.

Taco Trio from Goat Mafia. Photo by Cesar Hernandez.
Taco Trio from Goat Mafia. Photo by Cesar Hernandez.
Taco Trio from Goat Mafia. Photo by Cesar Hernandez.

Goat Mafia

Juan Garcia, a fourth-generation birriero, has the mantra of “si no es chivo, no es birria,” if it's not goat it’s not birria. For Garcia, birria is personal, it’s an act of preserving his family’s history and traditions. But Garcia’s birria is not only informed by respect for his family, he adds elements he picked up in culinary school. Additions to his family’s recipe like ginger for aromatics and pork to combat the goat’s gaminess. Garcia’s birria is dark red from the copious chiles in the adobo, along with orange juice and toasted animal crackers. In the fall months, Garcia adds Narwhal Imperial Stout, to create “Beer-ia,” which aids the cooking process and adds a chocolatey taste. Each taco is built on a plancha over Kernel of Truth tortillas, first goes the birria, then a ladle of his concentrated consomé, and topped with pickled onions and cilantro. Catch them at Smorgasburg every Sunday or look out for their other pop-ups on Instagram.

Smorgasburg on Sundays: 777 S Alameda St, Los Angeles, CA 90021

Birria taco from Barbacoa y Birria Los Cuates
Taco from Barbacoa y Birria Los Cuates. Photo by Cesar Hernandez.

Barbacoa y Birria Los Cuates

Started by Daniel Torres in Compton, this birriería and barbacoa specialist learned to cook barbacoa when he was 12 years old. Torres has a background in construction and used that to create his special weapon: a concrete oven he built at home. This oven houses hundreds of pounds of goat and lamb, slowly roasting over coals, dripping all of its fat and essence into a huge stockpot, creating a potent consomé filled with rice and garbanzo beans. You can order them by the pound or as tacos. The birria (and lamb) is hit with a ladle of adobo and salt before being dispatched. Catch them in their lonchera on Alameda and 129th street in Compton. 

Alameda St &, E 129th St, Compton, CA 90222

Taco dorado from Birrieria Barajas
Taco dorado from Birrieria Barajas. Photo by Cesar Hernandez.

Birriería Barajas

Birriería Barajas may have started in 2016 in East Compton but their recipe is over 50 years old. Created by the late Ramon Barrajas, in the 1960s, who would sell his birria in Tecalitlán, Jalisco at a mercado with his son Roberto. Today, they park their white lonchera in front of Eddie’s Liquor in East Compton and set up a small restaurant out front. Known for their birria de chivo tatemada that Roberto explains is "more roasted than the ones you’d find en caldo." The goat is thrown in the oven and roasted until the edges are crispy. But they’re also one of the birrierías de chivo that sell tacos. The tacos dorados are packed with roasted goat and fried on the plancha, half-moons with brown spots like a dalmatian dog stained in birria fat. Their taco dorado de frijol is crunchy, creamy, and feels like home. If you're not in the mood for a taco, they also have chamorro, a super-browned goat shank that should be sold at amusement parks instead of turkey legs. Fuck a turkey leg.

4214 E Compton Blvd, Compton, CA 90221

Birria de chivo tacos from Birrieria El Guero.
Birria de chivo tacos from Birrieria El Guero.

Birriería El Guero

Alejandro Calderon and Angelica Pacheco started their birriería around the time they had their firstborn in 2010. Pacheco met Calderon when he worked at a taquería, now they own three loncheras and two restaurants together. Their loncheras are bright green and yellow with an emblem of a goat profile staring off into the distance serenely; like Lennie in Of Mice and Men, staring at the river. Their birria doesn’t have an excess of chiles in their adobo, the consomé is almost clear and tastes like a clean bone broth with no gaminess. Each taco comes on fluffy handmade corn tortillas, often so fresh that they're still puffy from cooking. They have over three different salsas: green, red, and habanero; a drizzle of all three in the consomé makes it sing with sharp chiles.

Multiple locations

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