Birrieria Y Taqueria El Alex - Albuquerque (N of Downtown)
My wife and I just went to El Alex, a Zacatecas-style birrieria/taqueria just N of Downtown Albuquerque on 4th Street. (It's a bit S of I-40, just N of the consulate). We had a very nice lunch, and we will definitely go back.
Birria appears to mean different things in different regions of Mexico. In Zacatecas, it is a wonderful beef/onion/chile/cilantro stew/soup served with corn tortillas. El Alex has it for $5.99 a bowl, and it's quite delicious. The lime served on the side really adds to the experience (I would not have necessarily put beef and lime together), but the underlying beef broth in the birria really makes you feel like you're going to have superpowers for a little while after you eat. One thing that I should note is that this is a pretty spicy dish - it was in no way too hot for me to eat, but you know you've eaten something picante. The thick stack of warm tortillas de maíz helped cut the heat, as did the second glass of water the waitress brought without having been asked. The birria had the right level of saltiness, too, which is a plus for me.
They bring you a nice basket of chips and salsa when you come in and sit down. The chips were fine, freshly made and not oversalted, and the salsa was fresh and tasty with a bit of oregano and the hint of a bite to it.
We started out with a sincronizada (ham, avocado, and swiss cheese quesadilla, served with salsa and a salad-like garnish) aperitivo, and I was glad for it, as it helped cut the heat of the birria a bit.
Mmm - good stuff. Total for the two of us was $18.99. It's nice to see a Zacatecas restaurant in Albuquerque. We will be back.
Birrieria Y Taqueria El Alex
1900 4th Street Northwest
Albuquerque, NM 87102-1428
Went by again today with a friend on the way back from the shooting range. (Super-clean bathrooms for removing the lead and gunsmoke, by the way.) We both had birria (wonderful!) and split a plate of four tacos (2 asada, 2 al pastor).
The birria was just superb. Man, I can see myself craving this, especially as winter comes on. The beefy broth, the fiery bite of the chile, the tang of the lime juice, the [whatever] of the cilantro . . . my friend commented that it was a little heavy on the onions. For me as well, but I just ate around about half of them and left onions in the bowl. A valid criticism, though. Other than that, we were both really enamored of the beef birria. BTW, we were both pretty happy with the tortillas de maís that came with the birria.
The tacos, well, we both felt that the asada was relatively flavorless. The tacos came with a nice heavy-on-the-chile-taste salsa, and it helped. The al pastor tacos, especially with the addition of lime, were a hit with me, but not so much with my friend.
We both agreed that we'll be back for the birria. Good stuff. Like I said, I'm pretty sure this will be one of those items that I develop a craving for every so often.