Birria — a traditional Mexican dish of beef, lamb or goat slow-cooked in adobo — is prepared with a fragrant array of spices and is often garnished with cilantro, onion and lime. The dish has undergone a renaissance in recent years, wherein its stewed-til-tender, melt-off-the-bone meat is tucked into a corn tortilla with cheese and fried in fat until crisp. The tacos are served with a side of consommé, or residual stew broth, for dipping.
The result is quesabirria, or cheese birria, a rich and flavorful hybrid dish that’s undeniably decadent. Also called tacos de birria, this dish was popularized in California after making its way up through northern Mexico. It has since taken over the NYC taco scene, with Bushwick being a prime destination for birria-style tacos. Here are five places to try in the neighborhood if you’re a quesabirria fanatic (or if you’re ready to become one).
Nene’s Deli Taqueria
At first glance, Nene’s Deli Taqueria is easy to miss. Nestled inside of Eric Mini Market, just across Starr Street from Fermi Playground, the space it occupies is relatively nondescript, save for a red and white sign with its name and hours propped casually against the window. However, its quesabirria is anything but. Nene’s was opened in 2020 by Andrés Tonatiuh Galindo Maria, former chef for a swath of Michelin-starred restaurants across Manhattan. Nene’s quesabirria clearly highlights its creator’s artistry. Silky cheese and tender beef never melded so well.
14 Starr St. Brooklyn NY 11237
12 p.m. – 11 p.m. every day
Peter’s Crunchy Red Tacos
A consistent favorite of nightlife-wanderers and early birds alike, Peter’s Crunchy Red Tacos has quickly carved out a niche as a staple Mexican food truck along Wyckoff Avenue since opening in 2021. The quarter-block the truck occupies is flanked with massive flags emblazoned with the words “TACOS – ESTILO TIJUANA,” proudly declaring its presence long before you make it to the window. Peter’s distinctively red tacos are the result of being fried in beef fat left over from its birria stew.
2 Wyckoff Ave. Brooklyn NY 11237
10 a.m. – 4 a.m. every day
Gordo’s Cantina sits on a quiet block of St. Nicholas Avenue, with an easygoing outdoor patio setup and decorative lighting that lends itself to an atmospheric date night. Birria was only recently added to Gordo’s Bushwick location’s menu but proves itself to be a standout choice amidst the many options in the neighborhood. Gordo’s Cantina offers the dish in 3 forms – as 2 corn quesadillas, 4 birria tacos, or a platter that you can use to assemble your birria tacos yourself, with corn tortillas on the side. Pop by for happy hour between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. and order a margarita to pair with your birria platter.
140 St. Nicholas Ave. Brooklyn NY 11237
12 p.m. – 8 p.m. Sunday
12 p.m. – 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday
12 p.m. – 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Plaza Ortega is a family-owned Mexican grocery store that’s nestled just between the Knickerbocker and Central M stops. In addition to birria-style tacos, Plaza Ortega offers birria ramen — Marchuan noodles and birria broth topped with onion, lime and cilantro — as well as torta de birria, or a birria sandwich. You can finish off your quesabirria feast with any number of the homemade fruit-flavored shaved ices Plaza Ortega has listed on its dessert menu.
140 Stanhope St. Brooklyn NY 11221
10 a.m. – 11 p.m. every day
Where to go if you’re craving quesabirria at 5 a.m. after a Saturday night at House of Yes? Derek Truck will save you when no one else can. Amply-sized portions and plenty of available seating along one of the most bustling blocks off of the Jefferson L stop make it a great spot for people-watching as you devour a crispy taco or three.
29 Wyckoff Ave. Brooklyn NY 11237
10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Friday
Open 24 hours Saturday and Sunday
Top image by Paulina Loyo-Gringonis (Gordo’s Cantina)
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