Barbacoa Ermita: Hidalgo-Style Barbacoa in Tijuana

Barbacoa Tijuana

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.

Barbacoa Tijuana
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.

Barbacoa Tijuana
We sat down in what was basically his garage to find Torres behind the brick pit.

Barbacoa Tijuana
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?

Barbacoa Tijuana
We received supercharged consommé loaded with garbanzo beans, lamb meat and globules of lamb fat.

Barbacoa Tijuana
Fresh-grilled corn tortillas cradled tender lamb, which was sticky with delicious melted fat.

Barbacoa Tijuana
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.

Salsa Tijuana
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.


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

Blog Comments

My family and I went to TJ last Saturday -specifically- to try out this delicacy -which it is, but not this one- This turned out to be a nightmare since the beginning: the soup was so darn hot we were not able to put it into our mouth and not only that but it not only have “some globules” of fat but a full one quarter inch on top of it! when the lamb was served, it was on aluminum foil as shown with a paper lining but it was dry and yes… a taste of lamb -nothing to brag about- by nighttime I had the worse diarrhea you can think of not mention the stomach cramps! I was brought up eating original Mexican food which many times is greasy and condimented but this one took its toll on my tummy… if you want to try some really excellent BORREGO then drive over to “Calle 10 and Ocampo” to “AQUI ES TEXCOCO” I have been eating there for years and will do so for many to come without any tummy nightmares!!!

Carlos, I’m a big fan of the Aqui Es Texcoco branches in Chula Vista and Commerce, but will have to try the Tijuana original. Thanks for letting me know that Ermita’s quality dipped. Too bad.

Leave a Comment