I’m always in search of the perfect taco: al pastor, crispy fish, and, more recently, birria - the stewed lamb, goat, or beef with broth, originally from Jalisco. A ton of new birria taco spots have popped up all over the Bay lately, and I’m not complaining - the juicy beef, the melty cheese, and the crunch you get after you dip each taco in consomé. If you’re also craving this cheesy good stuff, you’re in the right place. Here are a few of my favorite birria taco spots.
Tacos El Patrón in the Mission makes massive birria tacos that are overflowing with delicious beef. They’re also extra cheesy (because, balance), and taste even better after dipped in their rich consomé broth. The best part is Tacos El Patrón has two locations where you can get your birria taco fix - the other is in the East Bay’s Pleasant Hill. They recently closed their sister restaurant Los Guisados Del Patrón, one of the Infatuation’s favorite new restaurants of 2020, which is just another good reason to support Tacos El Patrón now.
One of the newest additions to the birria taco scene is El Cielito Lindo. The Mexican restaurant is located on Balboa in the Outer Richmond, and serves everything from breakfast burritos to enchiladas to great carne asada tortas. But you’re reading this guide, so here’s what’s up with the birria - the tacos are excellent and made with beef that has a nice balance of spices and flavors. They’re also pretty meaty, and are four for $19 (or one for $5.50).
The first quesabirria taco I had was from La Santa Torta, back when the truck was parked outside of East Brother Beer Company in Richmond. Several years later, this place continues to hold a special place in my heart - and dish out some of the best red tacos in the Bay. A trio of three ($12) are stuffed with well-spiced beef, pickled red onions, salsa, and come with a crisp shell with melty cheese. One thing that has changed is their location - they’re now posted on Broadway in Jack London Square.
El Garage is a former pop-up that opened a new brick-and-mortar in Richmond. They specialize in quesabirria tacos, and are serving three for $12 (or three for $9 if you don’t want cheese). And if you love spicy things, make sure to order your tacos with a side of pickled habanero. You’ll want to get it all with a glass of their agua de jamaica, which is the perfect combination of tart and sweet. Pre-order online (you can now get your tacos via delivery too).
You can find El Fuego’s truck parked around the city - at Spark Social in Mission Bay, Harmonic Brewing in Dogpatch, or at the corner of Carolina and 17th St. in the Mission. They make a great birria taco ($4.25 each), which has plenty of cheese and cilantro, and comes with a small cup of consomé on the side. If you want a bit of everything, El Fuego has a special deal - one crispy quesabirria, one soft birria taco, and one birria mulita for $13. Be sure to check their Instagram to find out when and where the truck will be posted.
The colorful Sinaloan truck in East Oakland has a long menu of aguachiles, ceviches, and seafood towers piled high with shrimp, fish, crab, and other mariscos. They also have excellent birria tacos, which you can enjoy in their spacious seating area, whenever outdoor dining resumes. Incredible corn tortillas and a perfectly balanced cheese-to-birria ratio make El Tamarindo’s tacos some of my favorites. They’re $4 dollars each (they’re on the smaller side so order three), and you’ll have to walk-up to order. And heads up, you can only pay with cash or Venmo.
If you want birria on, well, everything, hit up La Grana Fish. The taco trailer parked behind the Aloha Club in Oakland’s Fruitvale makes everything from crispy birria tacos with ramen to delicious birra vampiros to a pizza mula de birria, which is basically a giant birria-filled quesadilla you will need in your life this second. If you want a quesataco but with other proteins, you can request asada, chicken, and shrimp.
This Mexican restaurant based in Concord expanded into Alameda last summer and serves everything from ceviche to burritos and antojitos. They have excellent birria tacos, too. For $5.75, you’ll get a takeout box packed with two cheesy tacos (cheese is a $1 extra), a ton of limes and radishes, and a small cup of broth. Chips and salsa are included on the side. If you’re looking for an affordable birria deal, this is it.
The Dunkin Taco
The Dunkin Taco is a new Mexican pop-up that currently operates on Sundays out of The Wolfhound Bar on the Oakland-Emeryville border. Their menu has gone through a few iterations since launching last fall (they recently started making burritos), but one constant is their titular taco - cheesy, crispy goodness you can (and should) dip in a satisfying broth. Head to their Instagram for the latest updates.