It used to be that food was purely ancestral. Our diets consisted of recipes passed down through generations. We ate as our parents ate—guided by the crispy pages in family cookbooks and fond recollections of Grandma rattling off instructions. But today, in the age of social media, our eating habits have become less and less informed by familial traditions, and moreso influenced by our Instagram feeds. The phenomenon of “viral food” has kept us on the pulse of hipster food trends, such as avocado toast, cronuts and rainbow bagels. However, that’s not to say that this is a bad thing. Admittedly, society’s obsession with sharing photos of food has opened our minds and our mouths to new and delicious recipes. And in the best of cases, it has taught us about cultures we otherwise wouldn’t think to explore. Exhibit A: birria tacos. I’ve yet to experience this Mexican delicacy, but I’m eager to understand why birria tacos are the next big trend.
In the latest Instagram food craze, #birriatacos has garnered nearly 50,000 posts. Each of which features a tantalizing photo of a birria taco dripping in sauce and meat juices. But what exactly is a birria taco? To be honest, I have no idea. But that’s why we’re here. Together, we’ll break down the birria taco craze, from the origins of “birria” to why it’s the next big trend. Plus, we’ll even list some places where you can find birria tacos in New Jersey.
What is a Birria Taco?
We all know what a taco is (I hope), so let’s begin by defining the term “birria.” Birria is a Mexican dish that originated in the state of Jalisco. It consists of shredded meat served in a consomme broth filled with cilantro and other spices—like a meat stew. Traditionally, the meat is either lamb or goat, but in the United States you’ll often find beef birria. When it comes to birria tacos, chefs stuff tortillas with the shredded birria meat and various toppings. The tacos are then served with a side of broth for dipping.
Why Birria Tacos Are the Next Big Trend
By now, you’re probably wondering what all the hype is about. Clearly, birria tacos sound incredibly appetizing, but why have they become an internet sensation, as opposed to some other dish? Well, that’s a matter of conjecture. However, I have a couple theories. First and foremost, these tacos are absolutely delicious and you don’t need to taste one to know. Most pictures are worth a thousand words, but these Instagram photos of tacos drenched in meat sauce leave you speechless. And, if we’re being honest, pretty much anything dipped in anything looks delicious.
Also, people are downright obsessed with tacos these days. Mexico has a long and rich tradition of tacos, but recently the world has taken a keen interest in Mexican street food. In fact, there are several documentaries and television shows based solely on tacos, including “Taco Chronicles” on Netflix. In two seasons, “Taco Chronicles” explores the history and culture behind various styles of tacos, including the birria taco. Moreover, there are countless Instagram pages and YouTube channels dedicated to tacos and other Mexican staples. It goes without saying, the world is currently in the midst of a taco craze and it shows in our media. So, it’s really no surprise that birria tacos are an up and coming trend in the culinary world.
To my point, here’s a video of YouTube personality JL Jupiter discovering “the juiciest tacos” on the East Coast—Birria tacos. Once again, featured in this video is Chofi Taco y Birria, which has been garnering notoriety for its birria specialties.
Where to Get Birria Tacos in New Jersey
At this point, you’ve read more than enough mouthwatering descriptions to know just how flavorful and satisfying birria tacos can be. But I’m assuming you want the full experience. With that said, here are some of the best Mexican restaurants and food trucks to get birria tacos in New Jersey.
1. Irma’s Cafe – Jersey City, NJ
This newly opened Mexican and Salvadorian restaurant, Irma’s Cafe, is bringing “tacos de birria” to Jersey City.
2. Taqueria Sabor Mixteca – Jersey City, NJ
Every Friday and Saturday Taqueria Sabor Mixteca serves birria tacos to celebrate the weekend.
3. El Jardin Restaurante – Passaic, NJ
El Jardin is a local favorite known for dishing out sensational beef birria tacos in Passaic County.
4. Chofi Taco – Union City, NJ
Featured earlier in this article, Chofi Taco y Birria is led by chef Kim Martin-Flammia, who makes some of the tastiest birria tacos around. It’s no wonder this place is blowing in the midst of a Birria taco explosion.
5. Torta Truck – Union City & Downtown Jersey City, NJ
Another Union City gem, Torta Truck is a Mexican food truck that has arguably the best birria tacos in the state.
Bonus: Mi Pueblito Tacos – Philadelphia, PA
Mi Pueblito Tacos may be on the opposite side of the Delaware River, but this food truck’s birria tacos are well worth the trip if you’re in Southwest New Jersey.
Do you agree? Are birria tacos the next big food trend? Let us know in the comments below.
Main image by Melissa Hom for @tortatruck