Plato de birria.jpg
Birria served with condiments
Place of originMexico
Region or stateJalisco
Main ingredientsMeat (typically goat meat or beef), dried chili peppers

Birria (Spanish: [ˈbirja] (listen)) is a Mexican dish from the state of Jalisco. It is a traditional ancestral soup or stew made from a combination of chili pepper-based goat meat adobo, garlic, cumin, bay leaves, and thyme, and cooked at a low heat. Birria is slow-stewed in a pot (olla), and differs from barbacoa, which is cooked underground. Beef, lamb, sheep or vegan meat substitutes are alternatives for goat. It may be seasoned and garnished with onion, cilantro, and lime. It is commonly accompanied with handmade corn tortillas.[1] Birria is one of the most famous dishes from Central Mexico including Jalisco and Michoacan. Each municipality and state is said to have its own version of this dish. The most famous are goat birria from Apatzingan, Michoacan and from Guadalajara, Jalisco San Pedro Tlaquepaque, are also well known for the quality of their birria.[2]

Restaurants or street carts that serve birria are known as birrierias and exist throughout Mexico, especially in Michoacan and Jalisco. Neighboring Mexican states have their own variations of the dish, including birria style Zacatecas and the birria de Colima.[3]


In 1519, Hernán Cortés and the Conquistadors first landed in Mexico, bringing various old-world domestic animals, including goats. During the Conquest of Mexico, the Conquistadors were faced with an overpopulation of goats, so they decided to give the animals to the natives.

While goat meat was looked down upon by the Conquistadors, as it was tough, had a strong smell, and was hard to digest, the natives accepted the animals, marinating the meat in indigenous styles making it palatable and appetizing.

The dishes they produced were called "birria", a derogatory term meaning "worthless", by the Spanish, in reference to their having given the natives meat with apparently noxious characteristics.[4]

Traditionally birria was served on bread, tortillas or even directly on your hand. Many variations of the dish have derived since, causing arguments amongst birria enthusiasts on what is authentic and or the original way. In the early days birria did not have consommé. The meat was dry seasoned and placed inside a makeshift oven built from rock and mud preheated with firewood. The embers were spread and maguey leaves were laid down to protect the meat from scorching. Meat was then placed directly on top of the maguey leaves and the opening was closed with more rock and mud. This technique ensured the heat would not escape creating a pressurized oven. The meat juices and maguey leaves created moisture and steam causing the meat to be juicy and tender. Birria seasoning later developed into a wet marinade being spread on meat and stewed in pots thus creating consumé.

In 1950, a taquero named Guadalupe Zárate moved to Tijuana from Coatzingo, Puebla, where he set up a small stand that sold goat birria and traditional asada and pastor tacos. Zárate soon decided to make beef birria because goat meat was more expensive and less fatty. One day, someone told Zárate to add more liquid to the meat. The resulting dish is now known as Tijuana-style beef birria, making a household name among birrierias for being the first person in Tijuana to make birria with consommé.

In 1980, Juan Jose Romero opened the restaurant "Tacos Aaron", which served goat and beef birria. In 2001, Tacos Aaron started serving quesabirria, cheesy beef birria tacos. As other birrierias adopted the dish, it quickly became a phenomenon in both Tijuana and Los Angeles.

In 2013, Ruben Ramirez and his cousin Oscar Gonzales began selling birria in Los Angeles, setting up a stand in the driveway of Gonzales's house. In 2015, Gonzales and his brother Omar set up a birria truck in South Central. In 2016, Teddy Vasquez opened Teddy's Red Tacos, also in Los Angeles. The Gonzales truck and Teddy's Red Tacos, both serving Poblana street food, became popular on social media and by 2018 birria and birria tacos submerged in consommé were a national trend.[5]


Birria with consommé
Birria with consommé
Birria pot
Birria pot

See also


  1. ^ Tamez and Barreras, Abraham and Roxana (2021-02-26). "Birria: its successful ancestral secret recipe". interesante. Archived from the original on 2021-08-02. Retrieved 2021-07-20.
  2. ^ Rao, Tejal (2021-02-08). "The Birria Boom is Complicated but Simply Delicious". New York Times. Archived from the original on 2021-02-08. Retrieved 2021-07-26.
  3. ^ Rafael Hernández, "Birria," in Celebrating Latino Folklore: An Encyclopedia of Cultural Traditions, Vol. 1 (2012, ed. María Herrera-Sobek).
  4. ^ Cardenas, Juan Ramon (2021). La Senda del Cabrito. Ediciones Larousse. ISBN 978-6072123663.
  5. ^ Esparza, Bill (2017-06-17). L.A. Mexicano. Prospect Park Books. ISBN 978-1945551000.