A domestic success story in the era of a pandemic emerges with the concept of emerging beria. | Eat + Drink – Monterey County Weekly NOW

We’ve all heard the stories of the restaurant industry carnage linked to the pandemic: restaurants were forced to close and countless employees lost their jobs and livelihoods in the process. However, through the unmarked doors at Aquino’s Birrieria in Pacific Grove, there is a local success story to be found.

Since immigrating from Oaxaca, Mexico more than 25 years ago, Macario and Paulina Aquino have lived in the restaurant industry, Macario as a skilled chef and straight cook, and his wife Paulina as an expert baker. For years, they had dreamed of one day opening their own restaurant with their son Gustavo, but that dream was crushed when they all lost their jobs as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. or was it?

Today, the new Aquino’s Birrieria is located within a space in PG’s Fairway shopping center formerly occupied by Chinese Dynasty. In an age when restaurants have been characterized by closing brick-and-mortar locations in favor of a “ghost kitchen” model appropriate for take-out and less expensive (where there is an online and take-out-only restaurant, there’s no sit-down service available), this start-up business has done just the opposite.

Aquino’s started as a spin-off in the kitchen of the family’s Seaside home. At first, they were selling beeria tacos to their friends for $1 and marketed to the public via social media. As their business and social media grew, Aquinos had to make a decision.

“We knew we had outsized our kitchen, but we weren’t sure we’d open a full-service restaurant, especially in the midst of the pandemic,” says Gustavo, who handles most of the family’s business operations. “So at first we looked for a kitchen space to rent. We also thought about using a taco truck.”

But when the space became available, Aquinas decided to go one, and they signed a lease giving them access to not only a much larger kitchen, but a dining room and all the space that comes with a full-size brick-and-mortar institution.

“We opened at this location on July 7, and so far the business has been fantastic,” says Gustavo, who studies marketing and computer science at CSU Monterey Bay. “We are up to 3500 followers on Instagram, launched a website, and so far the business has been steady.”

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Although Aquinos use beef for their birria, the original recipe called for goat meat cooked underground in a large saucepan, along with a variety of Mexican herbs and spices, plus a bottle of mezcal. The meat is cooked for four hours at over 500 degrees until it explodes, then served alongside shots of mezcal for feasting.

“In Oaxaca, beria is traditionally made during the holidays and is considered a delicacy,” says Macario, who now holds the title of chef. “But it is gaining popularity and is starting to appear on more menus here in the United States. And our product is especially unique because of the consumption we serve it with.”

Consume is the broth that results from the slow cooking process. Aquinos serves it as a spice much the way au jus is served with a roast beef sandwich. “It’s not only delicious, but it’s also said to cure a hangover,” Macario confirms.

True or not, Aquinos says there are other things that set them apart from the myriad local Mexican restaurants. “We stick to traditional Oaxacan recipes by using the freshest ingredients for all of our dishes,” says Macario. “Our chutney is made and brewed fresh every day. Never can in sight.

While customers come for birria, many stay for dessert. Polina makes a variety of Mexican food, including her famous strawberry cream cheese tacos, and her favorite Tres Leches.

Next, Aquinos plans to renovate its space, which still features old Chinese restaurant decor (this gives existing customers a slightly awkward, albeit certainly unique dining experience). “This will work for now, but we have bigger plans for the future,” Gustavo says.

beeraria akino It is located at 1116A Forest Ave., Pacific Grove. Open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. 224-6760, aquinosbirrieria.com

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