When we used to think about birria back in 2019, we typically imagined ourselves standing next to the Birria-Landia truck in Jackson Heights with adobo-stewed beef juice dripping down our chins. While that’s an image we often replay in our heads, there’s a lot more to the NYC birria scene than just one truck, thanks to a recent boom in these slowly-simmered beef- or goat-stew-filled tacos, with roots tracing back centuries in Jalisco, Baja, and Southern California. Whether you’re looking for some new fried food to comfort you in the cold of night or believe that dipping already-dripping tacos into consomme should be an Olympic sport, we’ve listed our six favorite places to get birria right now in NYC.
Birria-Landia makes the city’s best birria, full stop. This Tijuana-style spot is a New York City landmark, like the Statue of Liberty, except it’s a truck under a set of subway tracks in Jackson Heights, and it’s actually worth visiting (they also opened a truck in Williamsburg in 2020). Each of the four items on their menu (tacos, mulitas, tostadas, and consomme), is bolstered by tangy, mildly spicy, and mysteriously deep stew. First, you’ll taste lime, then tender meat, then adobo, then dripping fat, with everything melting together in your unworthy mouth. Make sure to take your crunchy-soft tortilla filled with beef and, and dip it in your cup of consomme. What happens is a sea change. The word “delicious” seems somehow inadequate. Bring at least $13 cash, get one of each item on the menu.
The name of the game at Nene’s Deli in Bushwick is quesabirria, a crispy-gooey, cheese-infiltrated birria dish that was hard to find in NYC until 2020. No matter if you want a birria burrito, quesadilla, taco, or mulita, it’ll be served amongst a layer of melted white cheese. As you might be able to imagine, the union of meat-soaked orange tortillas, stewy adobo beef, and caramelized cheese is one we all should be grateful for - even as you sit on a bench in Maria Hernandez Park ruining your pants with orange meat juice stains no napkin stands a chance against.
Chinelos Birria is the newest establishment on this list (this Long Island City truck only opened at the end of 2020), but they already make some of the most tender, sopping wet birria we’ve ever had in NYC. The tacos, mulitas, and consomme at Chinelos all taste deliciously cilantro forward, with heavy hints of warming spices like clove, star anise, and cinnamon. All that is to say the stew is more herbaceous here than what’s happening at adobo-forward birria spots like Birria Landia or Tacos El Bronco. If you want something beyond the three for $10 birria tacos, get a $4 mulita, which has crispy cheese layered between the nixtamal corn tortillas, plus a bunch of cotija sprinkled on top.
The Tacos El Bronco truck is typically parked at the corner of 37th and 5th in Sunset Park, and they’ve always made some of our favorite tiny corn tortilla tacos, especially when filled with rich chunks of veal head. But it was only recently that Tacos El Bronco added beef birria to the menu. The tortillas themselves stay remarkably crispy, despite being coated in a layer of rich beef drippings before they’re filled with hunks of meat that disintegrate when provoked. Also, the consomme here is spicier and tastes more prominently like tomato than other versions we’ve had. Assuming you like the combination of slightly sweet alium, chiles, and fatty beef, we’d recommend dipping your birria tacos in the consomme such that you get a couple of big raw onion pieces in every bite. If you’re in the area and interested in a sit-down experience, Tacos El Bronco has a brick and mortar restaurant (that also serves birria) on 4th Avenue.
This narrow little Mexican restaurant on Roosevelt Avenue makes very good tacos. We especially like their birria de res tacos, which are served dripping with spicy beef juice and don’t come with consomme. Unlike the crunchy shells at Birria-Landia right around the corner, Taqueria Coatzingo’s birria tacos are held together with soft, white corn tortillas. Inside each taco, you’ll also find beef birria, creamy guacamole, onions, and cilantro plus you can add cheese for an extra dollar.
When we noticed birria on the menu at this Clinton Hill spot known for its pizza, we weren’t exactly optimistic. But research is research, and Emily’s version made the cut on this guide for a few reasons. The smoky brisket is juicy and tastes like it’s been slow-cooking in a pot for days. Each of the cheese-stuffed tortillas are thoughtfully charred along the edges for a havarti lace effect, allowing for a satisfying crunch with every bite. And the cup of consomme on the side is thick, oniony, and packed with endless flavor. Plus, one order comes with two massive tacos.