Sauce Magazine – Where to get birria tacos in St. Louis
Where to get birria tacos in St. Louis
Birria Tacos come from the Mexican state of Jalisco and are a real institution in the capital Guadalajara. Sometimes referred to as “wet tacos”, they are traditionally served with a cup of broth (for dipping, dipping, and even drinking) made primarily from the drops of the taco’s slow-cooked meat.
Birria is a tradition that was humbly born as a method of preparing unwanted goat meat. The solution: rub the goat with a chili-based marinade before slowly simmering it for hours, tenderizing the toughest cuts. The result is a rich and delicious meal that can be used as a staple, hangover remedy, and focal point for family gatherings alike.
tacos la jefas owner heriberta amescua (center) eats birria tacos at home with granddaughter emily avila-guzman (left) and daughter liliana amezcua (right) // photo by carmen troesser
The women from Tacos La Jefa serve their generations-old family recipe to long queues of guests from their room in the communal kitchen of Urban Eats in Dutchtown. Your matriarch, inspiration and jefa (boss) Heriberta Amescua made Birria for almost a lifetime. Because of the smell, she prefers to use beef over goats.
Birria is part of the family roots. “There was always Birria for special family occasions, for birthday parties, weddings – family reunions in large groups,” said her daughter Liliana Amezcua. Their tacos are simple but effective, with tooth-sensitive beef and a complex, aromatic broth; Both are worth the wait.
At Lucha Authentic Mexican Food II in the Grand Center, owner Catalina Valdez serves an Oaxacan Birria variety in which slowly cooked lamb is wrapped in agave leaves. The tacos come without the consommé sidecar and instead drip with the greasy, red juice. “Well-made birria must always have good, natural salsa,” explained Valdez. Hers’ is sharp and fresh with a cloud of smoke to balance the richness of the lamb.
taco drip stl’s dipped taco’s owner stephanie boyd alias koch stef // photo by carmen troesser
In other places in the city, the traditional Birria also serves as a platform for creative experimentation. At Original J’s Tex-Mex in University City, the brisket finds a broth at home in a damp taco, where the generous use of broth accentuates the depth of flavor of the brisket. Taco Drip STL’s submerged taco, equipped with a portable flattop and cooler in a parking lot in a mall in Florissant, readily sells an extra cheesy taco with a fried, crispy shell. It’s a sticky texture bomb to dip into.
You won’t find it on the GrubHub menu, but the Taco and Ice Cream Joint’s El Mojado is well worth the trip. Melted cheese binds two tortillas with a juicy barbacoa filling. The spicy broth makes for a powerful birria that can make any hangover ricochet.
“Heriberta always says that Birria has to be made with a lot of love,” said Liliana Amezcua of her mother. “We have to be happy, we have to do them with a good attitude and when we do that we put that good attitude in the flesh to share.” From traditional to original, St. Louis feels love.
Tacos La Jefa
3301 Meramec St., St. Louis
Taco Drip STL’s dipped taco
11738 W. Florissant Ave., Florissant, 314.885.2911
Lucha Authentic Mexican Food II
522 N. Grand Blvd., St. Louis, 314.282.0728
Taco and ice cream parlor
2738 Cherokee St., St. Louis, 314.224.5799
Original J’s Tex-Mex
7359 Forsyth Blvd., University City, 314.202.8335