Tortillaphilia

Mexican food in Seattle and beyond!

Birrieria Tijuana

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Birria—a Mexican stew—rose to prominence not so much because of its flavors but due to Instagram. That’s not to say birria doesn’t taste good, but the neo-traditional quesabirria has become a social media stalwart because of how well it shows in photographs.

Here in Seattle, Birrieria Tijuana was largely credited for introducing the dish, presumably before the Instagram craze. And pretty as quesabirria may be, I am generally a little iffy about the meat.

Birria pizza in box
Maximalist food.

Pictured above is a birria pizza, which is more or less a jumbo quesabirria. And it’s good for what it is—there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. The birria is succulent and has just the right bite; the flavor is a punch in the teeth. All as expected.

But: As with most birria-based dishes, the richness of the meat can be overwhelming. You can argue that’s by design, and you are likely correct. It’s also why I often steer clear of the stew—I might be just a little too delicate for its onslaught.

Which all is to say, none of this is Birrieria Tijuana’s fault. They do birria the way people expect it to be done. But for those of us who are on the look for subtle flavors? I can’t help but think there is a way to balance birria-based dishes more so than what is the norm.

I have yet to experience it, but I will keep searching.

What To Order: Get the actual birria to go, and assemble some tacos with your own favorite toppings at home.

- Remi A. Olsen