I call tacos de lengua "the gateway taco to the wonderful world of offal tacos." When cooked and prepared correctly, it's the kind of organ that is exceptionally meaty. It has a texture comparable to a piece of long-cooked short rib or brisket, guaranteed to be meaty enough to fool even the pickiest of carne asada "pura carne" type of people.
Apparently, this is also true for goat lengua.
In what may be the best name for a taco ever, the founder and executive taquero behind The Goat Mafia, Juan Garcia, has created the most unusual yet incredibly delicious taco I have encountered in 18 years of writing professionally about tacos: "The Silence of the Goats." It is a taco made from Halal-quality goat tongues slowly confit in lard, duck fat, Mexican Coke, and oranges. Goat tongues, under the care of Garcia, manage to carry forth that same richness in texture and minerality that beef tongues do, except even meatier, butterier, and surprisingly not "goaty" at all. It's only lightly earthy.
The name comes from Garcia's fandom for The Silence of the Lambs franchise. It's an untraditional taco not even found in Mexico's goat-loving regions of Jalisco or Nuevo Leon.
It's a taco that haunts you long after you eat it as you try to process the fact you ate a taco made from goat tongues and goat tongues only. According to Garcia, the taco innovation stems from his deep love and respect for chivos. "I lowkey would like to be a goat expert in cooking and raising them. Now that we have a partnership with our Halal butcher, we care about the goat. It would be disrespectful to the animal if we don't use it all."
Garcia can talk about chivos all day if you ask him about it. There exists no other vato in Los Angeles and maybe even the country that has a bigger passion for growing, cooking, and serving chivo than Garcia. The fact that chivo tongues don't taste anything like chivo has to do with the carefully measured diet that Garcia uses for his goats, which is made from mostly spent grain from local breweries. "We maintain a relationship with local breweries that let us use spent grains to feed them. We also have the beers made with those grains in our restaurant served with our Birria." Pisto-fed chivo, a la verga. This is where we are now in L.A.'s Taco Life and how exciting it is to eat our way through it all. Garcia serves the beer he uses for his goat's feed at the brick-and-mortar restaurant he just opened with Saucy Chick Rotiserrie in Beverly Grove (8312 W. 3rd) but for now, the goat lengua taco is a Smorgasburg exclusive.
If you are morbidly curious like me, you are probably wondering how many tacos does one goat tongue equate to? The answer is a solid two of them if using taquería-issue three-bite tortillas "if the tongue is a good-size," says Garcia. The rest of the taco elements are a thick and rich roasted tomatillo salsa and blue corn tortillas from Kernel of Truth Organics in Boyle Heights.
For now, The Silence of the Goats is only available at Smorgasburg L.A. on Sundays in downtown Los Angeles. Get there early to avoid chivo lengua-induced heartbreak since Juan only has the tongues of about 40 goats. "We only use what we kill."
This taco is only available Sundays only at Smorgasburg Los Angeles. 777 S Alameda St, Los Angeles, CA 90021, from 10 AM to 4 PM.
Editor for James Beard Award-winning L.A. TACO. Associate Producer for JBA-winning Las Crónicas Del Taco. Former restaurant scout for Jonathan Gold. Co-Author of "Oaxaca: Home Cooking From the Heart of Mexico (2019, Abrams) and "Asada: The Art of Mexican-Style Grilling" (2023, Abrams).
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