Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >
Mar 15, 2007 01:14 PM

Birria - goat and beef - anything else?

The topic on different types of posole makes me wonder if there are different types of birria.

At first I assumed it was always goat (chivo) but often as not it is (beef)

So what makes it birria ... the thick sauce? The spices?

In a local restaurant review the writer says ...

"On Mexico's great central plain, birria is a form of barbacoa: joints of goat sprinkled with sea salt, bracketed with roasted leaves of the maguey plant, and baked slow in huge clay pots ... But in Jalisco ... birria is a soup-stew — goat meat and chile-spiked broth served in deep bowls."

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I have heard that it means something akin to "a mess."

    "Birria can be made with beef, veal, pork, goat or lamb making it quite versatile."

    This one uses both beef and pork.

    "Western Mexican Mutton Soup"

    I am interested in the Birrieria Restaurant as a concept in itself. I have a love for 'specialist' retaurants with one or two things on the menu much practiced by the koreans.

    I think the Tapitio/as and Jaliscans do birria the best. This weekend I am going to try a Oaxacan style - I will ask questions and report back.

    You may also want to check out Carne en su Jugo, a similar beef dish which Dining Diva can tell you more about.

    I am a big fan of the lthforums as well - where I have learned about 50% of my present Mexican cuisine knowledge from. These guys are incredible.
    Great Pictures. Explanation

    & C en su Jugo -- This poster is great! Check out the Carne en su Jugo spreadsheet!

    4 Replies
    1. re: kare_raisu

      That was the first time I saw the word 'Birrieria' and sort of dismissed it until you brought it up. I may be wrong, but doing a google, and reading one of the above links, I think that calling this particular place a birrieria may be playing loosely with that term. Here's a link to a place that is probably the definition of that word and their menu


      -tongue $2.00
      -birria $1.50
      -head $1.50

      -big $7.50
      -small $6.50
      -soup $1.50

      Tongue Plates
      -big $8.50
      -small $7.50

      -1 lb tongue $15.00
      -1 lb $10.00

      Orders (to go
      )-1 lb tongue $13.00
      -1 lb $10.00

      -full goat $212
      -half a goat $106

      A review of a Las Vegas birreria which has a similar concept.

      Birrieria Jalisco (scroll down

      Here's a definition of this type of restaurant in LA

      Another definition

      A really old article about birrea in LA

      It sounds kind of cool that there are restaurants where their only thing is cooking whole goats.

      Here's a picture of a place in Mexico

      1. re: kare_raisu

        Hey kare raisu,

        what a nice surprise to see those lthforum links here. You could post there too, with queries or whatever, sometime.

        I'm surprised that more cities don't have the sort of specialized spots that Chicago does, for birria, pozole, carnitas, tamales, etc. Do you think they're out there but not yet on the chowhound radar? :-)

        I saw in a different thread that you are looking for pozole verde in Southern Calif.. I had a pretty good bowl of it for lunch today -- not at a pozoleria, though, just at a regular restaurant that opened last week down the street from my house. I think Pigmon, who did the massive carne en jugo report you linked to above, has been sampling pozole places lately, so perhaps there will be another epic post from him.


        1. re: Amata

          There's not that many birreria's in the U.S that I saw. Most in Chicago, a numer in SoCal and MAYBE around the Bay Area. The Las Vegas one. Others ... Phoenix, Tuscon, Dallas and a place in Indiana ... a Chicago refugee?

          1. re: Amata

            Hi there Amata,
            I think I will start posting there. I have half my family still in Chicago, and Im out there just about every summer. You guys have generously lent me precious knowledge on the Chicago scene. I kid you not when I say you guys are serious culinary anthropologists. I bow down before you all.

            Eat Nopal, once made a statement about Mexican cuisine in CA and the SW that particularly resonated with me. Its that we already decided back in the 40s and 50s what Mexican food *should* be (think cheddar cheese, refried beans) and anything that doesn't fit that box is just not accepted. [except for certain restaurants that can survive entirely within the immigrant neighborhood and not rely on American customers] . Chicago has only been hit by the wave recently - so that long standing false image of Mexican food does not stand. Hence, the beautiful variety.

            LA however does rival Chicago - no doubt about it.
            San Diego - my area is no comparison but I've been finding we do have a fare share of interesting spots (that I know of: 3-4 Birrerias, a world class Oaxacan Panaderia, 2 Oaxacan restaurants, 1 Pozole restaurant, a culinary anthropological taquiera, quite a few mariscos joints, and a TEMPLE of comida casera - mex homestyle cooking).

            Kind Regards,

        2. " The meat is spectacular, alternately crispy and soft, in gelatinous hunks on ribs or in small pieces from the hindquarter. The broth is as flavorful as a French stock. First come bowls of halved limes, chopped cilantro and chopped onion. When the meat arrives, you get a basket of hot corn tortillas and roll your own."

          Perfect summation of Birria I have read so far.

          BTW, rworange did you catch Bourdain in LA? He went to one called El Chalito I believe.

          1. have you been to any in your neck of the woods? I found a Birria 'specialist' in vista about 2 weeks back.


            5 Replies
            1. re: kare_raisu

              Very cool. Missed that when I was there. No didn't catch Bourdain. I'm not that organized. Chowhound is sort of like one of those vocabulary calenders where you learn a word a day. I learn a little food fact a day. Today ... birrierias.

              OK, still looking around it turns out the guy who opened Birriera Jalesco in Las Vegas passed the business on to his kids who opened other places in California. Really interesting history about how he opened the first 30 years ago in Las Vegas ... at a time that not only did people not know what a birrieria was, Mexican food amounted to taco bell type chow.

              Yet, the sheer deliciousnes ... no hype ... made the business thrive. I want to spit. All the times I ate at crummy Las Vegas buffets when goaty goodness was nearby.

              Here's the menu which is just pictures of what they serve ... and they make it clear on the menu the do NOT serve rice or beans ... goat ... tortillas ... solamente. I personally want the Plato #5 - Chamurro (Pistola) - foreshank. They have a killer looking raspado too. I just learned today that sometimes raspados are topped with milk or ice cream. They also have a dessert I never saw before - jericella. The also serve a drink called tepache.

              Here's the pictures of what they serve. Prepare to drool.

              1. re: rworange

                I need the Jugo so I'll take a # 2 please! Mmm, the spine is my favorite part! Nice limon, onion, cilantro and rolled earthy tortillas....kill me now...

                1. re: rworange

                  Wow, fabulous link!! I'm in for a #2 with or without the consume.

                  1. re: rworange

                    OK, what gives? This doesn't look anything like the birria I have had at local shops here in San Diego. The birria here is more stew-like, not just consomme added, but with a considerable sauce, which I don't see any evidence of.

                    In your opening post, it seems that Jalisco birria should be stew, while the 'central plain' birria should be barbacoa, i.e. dry. But here's Birrieria Jalisco with what looks to be relatively dry meat. Did they take the meat out of the broth to display it?

                    Clearly we need to do some research, on the ground as it were. I'm in the mood for chivo.

                    1. re: Leucadian

                      Okay, time for a road trip. I got this info from an acquaintance who has a pretty good knowledge of Mexican food. If you don't want to make the trip to Vegas, this place is a lot closer to home (info below is from an e-mail I received)

                      >We were there about a week ago and I had a dish called "Costillitas
                      de Puerco con Nopales" (Pork Ribs with Cactus in Guajillo Red Sauce).
                      This was a little piece of Mexican culinary heaven. The ribs were
                      delectable, the cactus very tender, and the guajillo sauce was sooo good!

                      >Some of the other Mexican specialties were:

                      >Carne en su Jugo, Carnitas Alteсas, Birria de Chivo, Enchiladas
                      Poblanas, Pescado Sarandeado, Asado Mexicano, Mariscada con Patas de
                      Jaiba, Camaron y Pescado, Camarones Enquesados, to name a few!

                      >If you are ever in Southern California area the two locations are:

                      >Doсa Timo's
                      >934 East Highland Avenue
                      >San Bernardino, CA

                      >Doсa Timo's
                      >8833 Sierra Avenue
                      >Fontana, CA

                      There is a substantial Mexican population in San Bernardino county (CA).

                2. Just to add to the confusion, in Yuma restaurants, birria de res is more common than de chivo. When both birria and barbecoa are on the menu, the birria is usually in a darker almost brownish deeply flavored dark red sauce. The barbecoa is usually less assertively flavored, in a more lightly colored red sauce. When made with beef, the birria is usually more shredded and has more sauce; the barbecoa is chunkier. I have never seen a dry birria or barbecoa here.

                  Most Mexicans/Mexican Americans in Yuma have their roots in Sonora, Jalisco, Sinaloa, and Mexicali. On the other hand, the birrias that I have had in places run by families from Zacatecas and San Luis Potosi were both de res. Whether that is coincidence or represents some central Mexican tradition, I have no idea.

                  The last birria de chivo that I had in town had the meat still on the bone and OMG the sauce was sooo good. But I've also had de chivo where the meat was boneless and cooked to shreds.

                  Then, last week, one of my students wrote that in his family birria and barbecoa were the same, except that birria was made with goat and barbecoa with beef.

                  Confused yet? I am.


                  1. I've generally seen goat served; but I've seen recipes for lamb or beef.

                    Here's a few pics of a carnitas stand and a few places for birria..1 "urban"..1 out on a country road.


                    1 Reply
                    1. re: 9lives

                      The color in your birria 1 pic looks very close to the birrias here.