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The L.A. Birria Story: Tacos Dorados de Birria de Res Arrive in West Adams

10:13 AM PST on February 5, 2019

[dropcap size=big]T[/dropcap]wo handwritten planks just out from the back of a black pickup truck just west of the Crenshaw-West Adams intersection. And they bear a promise: “Tacos Birria! De Res.” Sometimes it's really that easy to summon the opening chords of “I Love L.A.” in our heads.

Welcome to L.A. Birria, tented tables and a lone griddle producing endless duplicates of a single dish: crispy tacos dorados filled with juicy beef birria bound together by melted Monterey Jack.

The stand just opened January 21. Co-founder Josue Eduardo Anaya tells L.A. Taco it's already looking like a hit, as they're selling a whole pot of birria in an estimated 800 to 1,000 tacos every day.

Photos by Vitaly Belousov.

Anaya's partner is his best friend and best man, Kevin Oajaca. The two met at Hollywood High and have since spent a lot of time cooking and dreaming together. Anaya is a Cordon Bleu grad who worked at fancy restaurants like L’Ermitage and Toscana. One day they made tacos together using Anaya's grandmother's recipe for birria de res. They loved what they tasted and something clicked.

"I think we should open a taco stand," Anaya says of the fateful conversation that lead to L.A. Birria's start. "Our own business. So if we're going to kill ourselves, it's going to be for us. Not for nobody else."

The guys set up at Adams and Crenshaw to take advantage of its heavy traffic, in addition to a varied customer base that may or may not know very much about birria. Their initial days were spent giving away tastes and tacos to neighbors. This birria outreach forms the core of the chefs' mission.

"Maybe 25 percent of people know what birria is," he says. "But what about the other 75 percent? We're trying to get everybody. They just need a taste so they can become customers."

RELATED: Birria in the Trunk ~ The Improbable Rise of Teddy's Red Tacos

"We offer the birria as a beef stew," Anaya says. "We let everyone know we make it from scratch. I tell them it's my grandmother's recipe, and everybody goes crazy for it, as you may have seen."

To make their birria de res, the chefs toast four varieties of chile before putting them in the stew to soften, allowing the broth to pick up flavorful juices that could be lost in soaking them back to life. After adding ingredients like garlic, bay leaves, onion, and clove, they add extra beef fat and extra bones to the stew, before reintroducing the blended chiles.

The fat turns red from the chiles and rises to the top. L.A. Birria skims a small spoonful of this fat off to fry the yellow corn tortilla-wrapped tacos dorados, giving them a unique reddish-gold appearance. This allows them to forgo the use of cooking oil completely, so that every ingredient comes from the birria itself.

Photo courtesy of LA Birria.
Photo courtesy of LA Birria.

[dropcap size=big]B[/dropcap]efore we can even make it to the table on a recent Saturday morning, we're handed a gratis cup of consome, a hot, thin broth of concentrated beef whetting our appetite for what's inside the nine identical tacos sizzling on the griddle.

After a few minutes, our large order of tacos dorados – most with cheese, a few without – is ready. The textural composition — crunchy fried shell, juicy birria, and liquid cheese — is irresistible. The birria, with a prominent note of cinnamon sounding over the surge of commingled peppers and spices, stands alone on its own, but you really do want this with cheese. And then you'll probably want another. And another.

"The taco itself is juicy from the inside, so once you bite into it you get the crunchiness and the softness together," Anaya says. "That's what I like about the taco and what inspired us to do these."

On the side, you'll find salsa rojo and salsa verde, as well as homemade jamaica and horchata. But the star of the sideshow is a searing, sesame seed-topped chili oil made with chile de arbol and garlic. In the months to come, Anaya says the menu will branch out into mulitas, burritos, and birria plates.

Stoked on their newfound street success, Anaya sees no limit when dreaming about the future. "I want to see L.A. Birria as a McDonald's," he says. "I want to see it be a chain worldwide. For everyone to know it: L.A. Birria."

Find LA Birria on the southside of West Adams Blvd., one block west of Crenshaw, daily from 9am-3pm. @l.a_birria on Instagram.

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