GUIDE CONTINUED FROM PREVIOUS PAGE
1753 East Florence Avenue, Los Angeles, 323 581 0800
Our fourth stop led us deeper into South L.A., to a Guadalajara style spot with just nine red stools and a jukebox from Rodolfo Torres y Familia. Tlaquepaque is a neighborhood in Guadalajara, in case you were wondering. There’s a larger Tlaquepaque across the street where they cook the goat and make fresh tortillas. We opted for the original, which wasn’t as comfortable, or apparently, as fresh. Still, we made our choice, and had to make the best of the situation.
Each stop seemed to have increasingly elaborate murals, perhaps none grander than the Aztec imagery we found at Tlaquepaque.
A grande order of leg and rib meat ($9.25) was submerged in a spicy consomé that had a good chile kick and didn’t quite allow the goat-y flavor to shine through. Unlike other locations, Tlaquepaque’s version was already fully loaded with white onions and cilantro. We received crispy foil-wrapped tortillas, which were not homemade in this location.
Grade of Key Ingredient: Jo 3, B 3.5, Ja 3.5, CV 4, M 5 AVERAGE 3.8/5
Condiment/Tortilla: Jo 3.5, B 3.5, Ja 3.5, CV 3, M 3.5 AVERAGE 3.4/5
Overall Flavor: Jo 3.5, B 3.5, Ja 4, CV 4, M 4.5 AVERAGE 3.9/5
Cooking: Jo 2.5, B 3, Ja 3, CV 4.5, M 4.5 AVERAGE 3.5/5
OVERALL TLAQUEPAQUE TACO SCORE: 3.65/5
5. El Parian
1528 West Pico Boulevard, Los Angeles, 213 386 7361
El Parian is a formidable 46-year-old restaurant in the style of Jalisco, from owner Maria Garcia. Writers like Jonathan Gold regularly laud the restaurant, for good reason. Our birria ($8.25) arrived dry, with an intensely but oh-so-satisfying goat-forward consomé. The meat achieved an excellent balance of crusty and juice. A squeeze bottle of vinegary habanero sauce added to the experience.
Grade of Key Ingredient: Jo 3.5, B 3.5, Ja 4, CV 4, M 4 AVERAGE 3.8/5
Condiment/Tortilla: Jo 4.5, B 4, Ja 4.5, CV 3.5, M 4.5 AVERAGE 4.2/5
Overall Flavor: Jo 4, B 4, Ja 4, CV 4, M 4 AVERAGE 4/5
Cooking: Jo 3.5, B 4, Ja 4, CV 4.5, M 4 AVERAGE 4/5
OVERALL EL PARIAN TACO SCORE: 4/5
Jacotepec went OUT OF BUSINESS in East L.A. We attempted to visit Flor del Rio, but at 5:30 PM, it was already CLOSED for the day, since birria isn’t always a nighttime venture.
6. Birrieria Jalisco
1845 East 1st Street, Los Angeles, 323 262 4552
We circled back to Boyle Heights for Birrieria Jalisco, a local landmark that now has multiple locations. The space sported canary yellow walls and black-and-white photos of Jalisco.
We selected an order of birria ($9) with spine, rib and leg meat. The meat was fairly tender, but didn’t have the juiciness, crust or intensity of flavor of previous stops. The consomé was a disappointment, murky brown and salty. The tortillas were singed and came from a bag.
Grade of Key Ingredient: Jo 3, B 3, Ja 3, CV 4, M 3 AVERAGE 3.2/5
Condiment/Tortilla: Jo 2.5, B 2.5, Ja 2, CV 3.5, M 2.5 AVERAGE 2.6/5
Overall Flavor: Jo 3, B 3, Ja 3.5, CV 3.5, M 2.5 AVERAGE 3.1/5
Cooking: Jo 3, B 3, Ja 3.5, CV 3.5, M 3.5 AVERAGE 3.3/5
OVERALL BIRRIERIA JALISCO TACO SCORE: 3.05/5
7. Flor del Rio [now called Birrieria Nochistlan]
3201 East 4th Street, Los Angeles, 323 268 0319
We all visited Flor del Rio on separate occasions. Don’t bother asking for a menu. Your only choice is whether to get the meat on or off the bone. Either way, birria costs $10.65 per order, but by all means, eat on the bone. As food aficionados know (and Ruth Reichl titled a book), meat is more “tender at the bone,” and it was at Flor del Rio.
The roast goat was certainly tender, but also spice-rubbed and crusty at the edges. Still, the highlight was definitely the addictive chile-flecked consomé loaded with goat-y debris. This is the only birrieria where the flavor built in intensity with each bite, which was truly impressive.
Grade of Key Ingredient: Jo 4.5, B 4.5, Ja 3.5, CV 4.5, M 4 AVERAGE 4.2/5
Condiment/Tortilla: Jo 4, B 4, Ja 3, CV 3.5, M 4.5 AVERAGE 3.8/5
Overall Flavor: Jo 4.5, B 4, Ja 3.5, CV 4.5, M 4.5 AVERAGE 4.2/5
Cooking: Jo 4.5, B 4.5, Ja 4, CV 4.5, M 4.5 AVERAGE 4.4/5
OVERALL FLOR DEL RIO TACO SCORE: 4.15/5
After tallying the votes, our surprise winner was Tepeque, followed by Flor del Rio. El Parian also scored big, but wasn’t quite as good as the other two birria-centric restaurants.
In the near future, the Taco Task Force will be on the hunt for L.A.’s best barbacoa.
November 28, 2012 at 11:59 AM
Thanks for putting together the list. My grandfather Manuel Cisneros started El Parian in 1963 and I literally grew up in the birreria so of course I am biased. Nothing beats the consome con tortillas. Actually i use to order a half order of carnitas with my birria and let the carnitas soak in the consome and that was the bomb.
I would order costillas(ribs) and espinazo(spinal cord) and remove the meat from the bones, place it in a tortilla slab some salsa, onion and cilantro and and dip it in the consome… nothing better than that….just some tips from someone who has birria ingrained in their DNA…
I would also recommend my uncles birrieria in Pomona…El Cabrito…It is really, really good….2055 South Reservoir Street Pomona, CA 91766 (909) 464-8091
November 28, 2012 at 2:26 PM
Thanks a lot for your insights, and the El Cabrito recommendation. Salud.
July 9, 2010 at 10:32 AM
yummy foods..however sad to see the goat..
July 9, 2010 at 10:36 AM
People aren’t always comfortable seeing the source of their food, or to even admit that meat comes from animals. Out of sight, out of mind, but not always.
June 8, 2010 at 12:10 AM
I love eating food like this. I live in Oceanside CA. and eat at Diegos a lot. They have the big crunchy Taco’s with real shredded beef. I don’t think I could ever go a week without eating there at least once.
LA’s Other Food Marathoners «
May 25, 2010 at 11:52 AM
[…] Food GPS, Mattatouille and Crew on the Birria Taco Task Force […]
April 12, 2010 at 5:59 PM
found your site on del.icio.us today and really liked it.. i bookmarked it and will be back to check it out some more later
February 8, 2010 at 10:42 AM
Bricia can handle like 10 stops in one day. Alright glutster, get on the potato tacos, I’ve got the barbacoa booted up and ready to go, no unknown quantities this time. And, a new find.
February 4, 2010 at 1:38 PM
Not before we do potato tacos first 🙂
KCRW also wants in actually. As always, thanks for being the first to write and inspiring the rest of us to get on it!
see you around.
February 4, 2010 at 1:41 PM
Potato tacos vs. Barbacoa? No contest, but we did discuss potato. How’s your scout going, Glutster?
February 3, 2010 at 4:13 PM
seriously, this is great… I posted it on my FB ; ) — you know, us normal people, that’s what we have.. Facebook (Foodmarathon’s words)
I’m so in for barbacoa
February 3, 2010 at 3:55 PM
I mean to say… “I want IN on the next taco task force”
February 3, 2010 at 3:59 PM
Thanks for the feedback. You’re in for barbacoa.
February 3, 2010 at 3:54 PM
By far, one of the best posts I’ve seen. I want it on the next taco task force..
February 3, 2010 at 2:32 PM
I love Tepeque. I hope this post helps get them more attention. And I have never tried the goat at Flor del Rio. I will have to get out there as soon as possible. Thanks for the tip.
February 3, 2010 at 3:29 PM
Glad to hear you’ve already discovered the wonders of Tepeque. Flor del Rio is also well worth a visit.