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The L.A. TACO Guide to the Best Birria de Res (Beef) Tacos In Los Angeles, Mapped – BIRRIA WEEK

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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When I wrote this list three years ago, birria de res exploded like a nuclear bomb leaving a mushroom cloud of adobo in the Los Angeles sky. In 2021, birria in Los Angeles continues to be ubiquitous with most taquerías adapting or pivoting to offering beef birria in some form. Now there’s a birria outpost in every corner of the city.

Birria comes from Jalisco and was originally cooked with goat, with techniques that date back centuries. But in Tijuana and Zacatecas, birria is made with beef. Naturally, beef is more approachable and cheaper, but birria de chivo is alive and well, which is one of the major points I want to highlight with birria week. Another major difference is that birria is no longer a weekend event, now there are taquerías and birrierías that serve birria on weekdays and into the night.

With birria so over-saturated in L.A., it is hard to parse through all the options. This list looks at the folks who have created a birria niche for their communities, whether that’s in the Valley, South Bay, South Central, Long Beach, or East L.A.

Happy birria eating.

Breakfast Burrito from Birrieria San Marcos. Photo by Cesar Hernandez.
Breakfast Burrito from Birrieria San Marcos. Photo by Cesar Hernandez.
Breakfast Burrito from Birriería San Marcos. Photo by Cesar Hernandez.

Birriería San Marcos

This Valley-based birrierîa started off with a small lonchera and now has a restaurant and two loncheras. Their logo is a cute cartoon cow, who I imagine doesn’t know what they sell here. They specialize in birria de res and they offer all sorts of birria concoctions: tacos, vampiros, burritos, tacos dorados, plates, and birria ramen.  At the restaurant, you could even get a birria breakfast burrito with a cheese crust and jalapenos.

Multiple locations 

Taco dorado and vampiro from Tacos El Tijuanense. Photo by Cesar Hernandez.
Taco dorado and vampiro from Tacos El Tijuanense. Photo by Cesar Hernandez.

Tacos El Tijuanense

Parked on the side of the road in front of Louise Park in Lake Balboa is Tacos El Tijuanensé. Formerly known as El Tijuanazo, this food truck is one of the most popular taquerias in the Valley with close to 150 thousand followers on IG. They specialize in Tijuana style tacos which means all tacos come wrapped in paper, asada grilled over coals, and of course birria de res. You can get a taco dorado with birria and an asada vampiro all in the same place. The taqueros will grab a large hunk maciza and chop it down to bite-size pieces filled with small pockets of fat.

7140 Louise Ave, Van Nuys, CA 91406

El Ruso's Tacos. Photo by Javier Cabral for L.A. TACO.
El Ruso's Tacos. Photo by Javier Cabral for L.A. TACO.

El Ruso

El Ruso’s is the one the few taquerias list that uses flour tortillas for their birria de res tacos. The tortillas are stained with red beefy fat and the taco is filled with stringy stewed beef, with the must-add option of a cheese costra (grilled cheese) and frijoles. Top it with avocado salsa to cut through the rich beefiness but if you want to take things to an even beefier level, add asada to the taco to introduce smokiness.

3140 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026

Tacos dorados from L.A. Birria. Photo by Cesar Hernandez.
Tacos dorados from L.A. Birria. Photo by Cesar Hernandez.

L.A. Birria

L.A. Birria. started as a puesto in West Adams but recently opened their brick and mortar in South Central. At the restaurant they serve the typical birriería menu but are also constantly experimenting with new birria creations. Dishes like birria egg rolls, birria melts, or birria ramen are what make them stand out. But their main attraction is still birria tacos, especially the tacos dorados drizzled with salsa macha.

3330 S Central Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90011

Birrieria GMZ

Driving down Crenshaw, you’ll see an orange truck with a stoic steer; a signal that birria is near. This lonchera is a spin-off of Birriería Gomez in Lennox, using the same birria sazón and adobo. If you’re pulling up physically, make sure to bring cash, otherwise, you can use Doordash to place an order. I know, didn’t make sense to me either, but don’t let that deter you from getting your taco dorado fix. The tacos dorados are the best way to experience their birria, crunchy tortillas filled with stringy birria, and a salsa that feels like a distant cousin to Tapatío. On its own, the consomé is lacking, but once you add salsa the broth really wakes up giving it a much-needed kick.

Taco dorado plate from Tacos El Goloso.
Taco dorado plate from Tacos El Goloso. Photo by Cesar Hernandez.

Tacos El Goloso

Where Hawthorne Boulevard meets the Pacific Coast Highway is a birriería called Tacos El Goloso known for selling birria de res. Tacos El Goloso is one of the fastest growing birrierías, specifically catering to the South Bay and Harbor area with four locations and one recently opened in Hermosa Beach. By far their most popular item is an order of tacos dorados which comes with a cup of consomé for dipping purposes. The cheesy and beefy birria tacos are proof that the birria boom made it all the way to the South Bay.

Tacos from Birria Pa La Cruda. Photo by Cesar Hernandez.
Tacos from Birria Pa La Cruda. Photo by Cesar Hernandez.

Birria Pa La Cruda

What distinguishes a birriería is their own personal touches, at Birria Pa La Cruda it’s their inky red adobo. It comes from spending extra time toasting and charring ingredients, creating a richer and bolder taste. The tacos dorados are one of the best ways to try this birria, tortillas fortified by a crisp sear on the plancha. The consomé is where you get to try the adobo in its purest form, a concentrated beef broth rich with smoke, chiles, and warm spices. Look out for their pop-ups and try a volcan, a small hill of beef and cheese stacked like a volcano.

The famed burrito from Burritos La Palma.
The famed burrito from Burritos La Palma. Photo by Cesar Hernandez.

Burritos La Palma
Multiple Locations

The OGs of this beef birria game are still as good as ever. You can find them in El Monte, Boyle Heights, Santa Ana and Smorgasburg on Sundays in downtown. The burritos look like something you’d make as a snack at home but taste a million times better. Each burrito is served with a spicy salsa de tomato and a raw chile serrano to make you feel like you’re eating with your abuela or mom. The quesadilla is a piece of art made of red beef and cheese. A must try and essential dish that served as a precursor for the birria explosion in L.A. The best part is that their birria will never, ever be dry.

Tacos El Primo
Hooper & 23rd St., Central Alameda
Weekends

El Primo materializes every weekend in a dirt lot in a sleepy residential area of South Central. The dirt lot has long been a blank canvas for Latinos, be it for parties or tacos. El Primo has an elaborate process to break down the beef. The taquero takes the maciza and chops slices off while intermittently ladling in their phenomenal consomé, to add some extra moisture (and flavor). The tostaditas are a small botana that are flavor and texture bombs and the tacos are just as magical. This all has to do with the balance of flavors that goes into their birria. Not too spicy but perfectly spiced, it stays true to the flavor profile of your mom’s or tia’s or abuela’s best birria. The elements come together in a symphony of spicy, salty, and beefy flavor.

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