Every weekend, Hidalgo native Victor Torres opens up his house’s covered patio so people can indulge in barbacoa, a popular breakfast feast from his hometown. Technically, his “restaurant” doesn’t have a name, but it’s easy to find. On weekends from 8 AM to 4 PM, just look across the street from the famed Tacos Los Salceados and soak up the aroma of his roasted lamb.
Torres slow-roasts an entire mutton for 8 hours in maguey leaves, leaving the somewhat gamy meat moist and aromatic. The only other staff member is his teenage nephew, but that’s more than enough to deliver well-crafted borrego.
He pulled back the maguey leaves to reveal a whole borrego, bones and all. Torres picked the bones clean and used every scrap to produce an awe-inspiring feast. Who needs pancakes and bacon when you can knock back a basket of lamb shoulder?
We received supercharged consommé loaded with garbanzo beans, lamb meat and globules of lamb fat.
My favorite part of the experience was digging into the bowl of pansita, a chile-tossed mess of organ meats, include tender strips of stomach and a mixture of kidney, liver and who knows what else. The roasted mutton was great, but didn’t feature pansita’s distinctive organ funk.
We were able to spoon on four different salsas, including one salsa made with pasilla chilies and pulque, a fermented agave juice with a mucus-like consistency. We also received salsas flavored with chile de arbol and beer, fiery habanero, and bright green jalapenos.
The previous day, our tour guide said, “Tijuana is a migrant city, so food from any part of Mexico, you’ll find it here.” After meals like Barbacoa Ermita, I couldn’t help but to imagine the possibilities.
Thank you to the Tijuana Convention and Visitors Bureau, Crossborder Agency, Cotuco (Tijuana Tourism Board), and Tijuana Canirac (Tijuana Restaurant Association) for sponsoring our eye-opening culinary tour of northern Baja. Thank you to Bill Esparza from Street Gourmet LA for leading the tour and for supplying so much invaluable information.