Feb 2010

Taco Taskforce: Los Angeles’ Best Goat Taco


For the second meeting of the Taco Taskforce, Bill (Street Gourmet L.A.), Javier (The Glutster), Matt (Mattatouille), Josh (Food GPS), and I aimed to find Los Angeles’ best goat (birria) taco. While goat meat hasn’t caught on in mainstream American cuisine, it is beloved across the globe. I tasted goat for the first time while living in Vietnam, and was taken aback by its deep flavor and favorable texture. Whether prepared in a salad, a curry, or simply grilled, the meat was very enjoyable and not overwhelmingly gamey.

In Mexico, whole goats are rubbed with a collection of savory spices (ancho, cumin, peppercorns, cloves) and oven roasted. After hours of slow and low cooking, the meat is sauced with a blend of drippings and broiled tomatoes, and served with fresh corn tortillas, white onions, and cilantro. Tacos are assembled by hand at the table. The mission of the Taco Taskforce was to find the place in town that best approximates a south-of-the-border birria experience.


With hundreds of birrierias scattered throughout the Southland, it would have been impossible to taste every single one. For the sake of our sanity, palates, and wallets, we explored a total of seven goat shacks as curated by Bill. One of the restaurants on the list turned out to be a total disaster, while the other six were winning all around. The outlier was eliminated from the rankings below.

We scored the birrierias in four categories—protein (quality of the meat), condiments (tortillas, consomme, garnishes), flavor (chiles, vinegar, spices, meat), and cooking (flavor and texture of the meat). Since I’m more of a qualitative thinker than a quantitative one, my assessments were mostly based on taste and the overall vibe from the establishments. For the numeric breakdown, see Mr. GPS.
Beginning with the establishment that scored the fewest points, here are our findings. Ready, set, goat!

#6 Birrieria Jalisco – Boyle Heights


With write ups in the LA Weekly, Travel+Leisure, and the Los Angeles Times, Birrieria Jalisco was the most celebrated restaurant on our tour. The condiments here were only so-so. The thin and sour consomme didn’t merit sipping on its own, but performed adequately to moisten the goat meat. The tortilla was not handmade and was heated through on a charred grill.


The spine, leg, and rib meat were all very good, but lacked the heady flavor and divine texture that better establishments delivered.

#5 Birrieria Chalio – Boyle Heights


Birrieria Chalio, which specializes in Zacateca-style birria, was our first stop on the taco tour. The condiments here were hit or miss. The handmade corn tortillas measured a foot in diameter and were downright fluffy. I enjoyed eating the tortilla alone, but found it too thick paired with the meat. The weakest accoutrement was the consomme, which bordered on bland and tasted of canned tomatoes.


The hunks of ribs and legs weren’t “crazy tender” according on my notes, but the burnt ends were texturally appealing.

#4 Birrieria Tlaquepaque – Huntington Park


Birrieria Tlaquepaque has two outlets located across the street from one another. Since the opening of Birrieria Tlaquepaque #2, the original one has been converted into a take-out joint. The newer location is ten times bigger and able to accommodate large groups.

Since we ate at the original location, the consomme was poured over the meat and the tortillas were not handmade. [The tortillas are handmade at Birrieria Tlaquepaque #2.] The broth was very pleasant and salted to perfection—it would’ve made a splendid soup on its own.


The flavor of the rib and leg meat was spot on, while the texture could’ve been more tender. However, considering that an older goat was employed, it was an all around solid birria effort.

#3 El Parian Restaurant – Pico Union


Jonathan Gold once declared El Parian’s birria, the single best regional Mexican dish in Los Angeles.” We found the consomme well-balanced, soulful, and appealingly tomato-y and appreciated that the tortillas were made for all to see.


The sections of rib and leg meat were extremely tender. The chewy bits of cartilage and collagen added interest to the mix.

#2 Flor Del Rio – Boyle Heights


Flor Del Rio was the most charming birrieria we visited. The consomme was tangy, satisfying, and full of goat flavor, while the handmade tortillas were warm and just thick enough.


The amazingly tender meat slid off the bone cleanly and contained an abundance of delicious connective tissue.

#1 Birrieria Tepeque – Huntington Park ** CLOSED **


Birrieria Teqpeque captured the picky hearts of the Taco Taskforce with its Michoacan-style birria. The consomme was bright, lovely, and popped with tanginess. The handmade tortillas were more than adequate, but the meat here was so amazing that it begged to be eaten straight up with one’s fingers.


Baby goat is the secret to Teqpeque’s standout birria. Aside from being ridiculously tender, the meat absorbed the spices beautifully. The distinct and delicious flavors of chilies and cloves permeated the ribs and shoulders like no other.

I was ready to throw in the towel after sampling Teqpeque’s birria, but I had to plow on with the Taskforce to make doubly sure. After tasting the city’s best, I am positive that Teqpeque cannot be topped.

Birrieria Chalio
3580 E 1st Street
Los Angeles, CA 90063
Phone: 323-268-5349

Birrieria Jalisco
1845 East 1st Street
Los Angeles, CA 90033
Phone: 323-262-4552

Birrieria Tlaquepaque
1734 E Florence Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90001
Phone: 323-581-0800

El Parian Restaurant
1528 W Pico Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90015
Phone: 213-386-7361

Flor Del Rio
3201 East 4th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90063
Phone: 323-268-0319

Birrieria Tepeque ** CLOSED **
3249 East Gage Avenue
Huntington Park, CA 90255
Phone: 323-588-8350

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13 thoughts on “Taco Taskforce: Los Angeles’ Best Goat Taco

  1. I agree that goat has a deep flavor. I avoid it for that very reason. But I’ll have to try the baby goat at Birrieria Teqpeque one day, perhaps after a visit to La Casita.

  2. Hey Gastronomer,

    Great post! I recently had the luxury of eating a Mexican goat stew. The flavor was deep, but I did not think it was overpowering, and I am one who usually shies away from lamb.
    My friend and I are planning a road trip this summer down to LA from San Jose for the sole purpose of enjoying the food in the area. Your blog is becoming a valuable resource, thanks for all the effort!

  3. Wow what a great blog you have going on here! If I ever need a recommendation for Vietnamese food I am SO hitting you up!!

    I’m in Vancouver we so have lots of Vietnamese too, but not really the street food. Have you been? Any recommendations for Vancouver?

    Unfortunately our Mexican scene is hurting…we have no authentic Mexican restaurants…it’s sad. But our Asian cuisine (Chinese/Japanese) and seafood is out of this world!

  4. I’m a transplanted San Diegan searching for great food in “the 909”. I grew up eating the best Mexican food around but have never had birria. Gotta go. Are there places that grill the meat over coals?

  5. I would have been out at the first place! I tried my first birria taco with Bill and sadly enough I was not a fan. I thought it musty and gamey, but bravo to you on your taskforce! I’m really loving these posts!

  6. Iam sorry I have nothing interesting to say other then I had to wipe my screen from trying to taste the food through the screen.haha Great write up!

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