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Sep 11, 2010 11:53 AM

El Cabrito – Hey, Kid! Get Your Goat On!

El Cabrito (The Baby Goat). The name says it all. You’ll know you’re at the right place when you drive up at the former Taco Bell and see the patio full of patrons and the parking lot overflowing with cars and (mostly) trucks. Then, for affirmation, you walk inside and see a large colorful sign touting the house specialty: Half Chivo (Baby Goat) $250 – 35 persons, Whole Chivo $425 – 70 persons. Ahh, Goat Heaven! I opted for two pounds at $18.50/lb.

You can specify your choice of cut(s) - wonderful! I requested cabeza and costillas, chopped into chunks, some larger, most smaller, but not shredded or pulverized. I knew that I had scored when I later found a whole baby tongue in the mix. The meat came with all the trimmings: a lively salsa, an awesome dark burnt sienna-colored chili oil/paste, onions, cilantro, radishes, limes and a large cup of consommé. Tortillas were extra, however, the gracious owner afforded me a delectable bonus – a femur bone with meat and cartilage still attached at both ends. Firme!

The birria was perfectly cooked - tender, juicy and, clearly, of very high quality. No doubt, this animal was as well bred as it was prepared. Notably, the serving was devoid of the oft-found stray bone fragments that can be so annoying, and potentially damaging, when noshing away on goat with reckless, wanton abandon. The flavor was distinct and vibrant, yet not overtly gamey. Truly superb. Compliments to the chef!

The consommé was sublime. The savory results of an extended and deliberate cooking process were evident in each dip and every sip. Layered, complex, not oily and only mildly spiced to preserve the exquisite natural umami. It was enjoyably drinkable as a hot beverage.

Fellow Hounds, the past month has indeed been one of bests for degustateur. Instead of declaring El Cabrito’s the best goat I’ve ever had, I urge all of you serious Goat Hounds to venture down to Santa Ana, visit El Cabrito and voice your own respected opinions in reply. All that I ask is for you to, if you are able, tell me where I can find better birria de chivo in SoCal.

FYI, El Cabrito also offers barbacoa de res (beef) plus al pastor, buches, cabeza, carne asada, carnitas, chorizo and lengua. All are sold by the pound, plate, taco, torta, burrito or quesadilla. Rice and beans are also served. I’ve yet to try any of these other offerings and don’t know if or when I will. For now, whenever this kid goes down to El Cabrito, it will be to get his goat on.

Oh yeah, next time, I’m taking my truck.

El Cabrito
1604 W. 1st Street
Santa Ana, CA 92703
(714) 543-8461

El Cabrito
1604 W 1st St, Santa Ana, CA 92703

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  1. Nice play on words, and a greaty review. I will check this one out soon. '

    1. I like your enthusiasm.
      Sounds like it has all the epic trimmings....

      I'm not much of a hair splitter so I'm sure it's going to be great.

      I see that it's not too far off the 5.

      On my next trip down South I'll give it a go.

      1. I noticed this place, and the people eating out front, on my last drive down 1st Street. Thanks for reminding me to get there and try it.

        1. I checked this place out.
          On my first drive by I could tell by the amount of people and clientele that this was going to be good.
          Parking is a big cluster_uck. I parked next door at the post office.

          Indeed the quality of the meat is excellent.
          I ordered a mixed Birria combo plate at 13.50.
          The flavor is milder then others I've have had but for me there is still a nice flavor present.
          Even If you like your Chivo on the gamey side I think you will still enjoy this place.

          One thing you could ding El Cabrito on is the use of packaged tortillas.
          Upon opening my piping hot foiled wrapped tortillas I pulled the first one out and it was ripped almost in half. The next two in line were fine but the ones after that were all ripped in the center.

          Instead of adding to the experience they were simply vessels to hold you Birria.

          My plate came with a side of rice and beans. The rice had the strangest flavor of mexican rice I have ever had. It had a Chinese sweet almost pungent flavor to it.
          It wasn't bad just very different.

          The plate comes with a consume that is very mild.
          I didn't get the layered complexity you spoke of but maybe my palate is not as sophisticated as yours.
          I did try my heart out to distinguish different flavors notes.
          I was sipping it as if i was doing a beer tasting looking for different flavor profiles.

          I got a nice clean hint of the goat but what were the other layers you spoke of you were picking up?

          After I finished the plate I decided to get a taco for the road.
          The taco was not up to the same level as the plates.
          It looked as if they took the scraps of Birria and smeared it with a spatula onto a tortilla.
          After having nice juicy chunks of birria this was not satisfying at all. Stick to the plates...

          Degustateur thanks for the heads up on a enjoyable place.

          For myself I would not declare it's the best ever or would I declare a place better for you
          it's too subjective.

          I would say for my taste a bit of improvement would be to have a little stronger flavor but keeping the texture and quality of the meat the same.

          Outside of the meat there is room for improvement in the tortillas.

          Thanks again.

          El Cabrito
          2055 S Reservoir St Ste F, Pomona, CA 91766

          1. what's the smallest portion i can get? i really don't wanna drop 250 per, but can i get like just half a pound even?

            sounds good, and is it ready to eat, and can i eat it right there?


            1 Reply
            1. re: kevin

              You could do individual tacos at 1.75 each which I don't recommend unless what I got was a anomaly.

              The combo plate I believe is the next smallest portion at 13.50.

              Then there is the all meat plate which was 18.50.