If you get off the #7 train at 74th Street-Broadway station in Queens and walk east along Roosevelt Street, you’ll have a chance to eat a new taco every few yards. By the time you go a mile, if not sooner, you’ll find all manner of tacos eaten in New York along this stretch of road in Jackson Heights. Tacos are sold from the windows of Takuya takeaways, from restaurants and bars with neon Modelo signs in the window, from deli counters in convenience stores, and from carts with vertical grills that roast the pink turrets spun from spiced pork for tacos al Pasteur.
The most common tacos of the year, though, are sold from a white truck that stops every afternoon around dusk in front of a large, well-equipped car park for an auto mechanic on the corner of Roosevelt Avenue and 78th Street. When the truck opens for business, at about 5 p.m. at Weekdays and around 1 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, the men working inside will arrange a trash can, a plastic cooler filled with ice, bottles of jarritos, and a handful of foldable stools. sidewalk. “Beefrria-Landia” was written on the banners on either side of the window, lit by a long strip of blue light.
In fact, the truck was named Birria-Landia. Birria is the filling for those tacos, the basis of the other items on the very short menu, and the reason the line that begins to form at the sidewalk-facing window each afternoon that dissipates and re-forms multiple times until the truck moves away, usually long after midnight.
In Mexican culture, birria means different things to different people. For those who don’t talk about food, it signifies garbage, mess, and you’d better not examine it too closely. In Jalisco, that also means a large piece of goat or other meat rubbed with spices and slowly cooked – formerly in an outside pit but nowadays, chances are it’s in the oven. Someone from Zacatecas who has heard of birria will picture birria de res, a beef stew cooked in party-size portions and served on plates or bowls. In Tijuana, and more recently in more and more parts of Southern California, when you say birria, people are more likely to imagine birria de res, but they will imagine it on a taco.
The birria at Birria-Landia is a Tijuana-style birria de res, marinated beef and cooked in an adobo of hypnotic complexity. The meat, which is a combination of breast, leg, and top meat, is rich and appears to grow softer when you eat it, like a square of chocolate. They are cut into pieces, folded into tacos, scattered over a tostada or sandwiched between opposite pairs of quesadillas to make a moletta.
If that were the whole story, Birria-Landia would still be a respectable addition to Roosevelt Avenue. But it’s not the whole story, because Tijuana tradition dictates that tortillas must first be dipped in the shimmering copper-beef fat that rises to the surface of the soup pot, then heated on a griddle until pliable and electric red. This brings the peria seasoning straight to the tortilla, doubling the pulse of dried, roasted chilies, morita, and simple hints of cinnamon and cloves that you can actually taste in the beef. The fat dip has to be one of the reasons Birria-Landia stands out in New York City, where most tortillas could use a little help.
Tijuana traditions also require pausing between bites of a beria taco for a sip of berea broth, known as konomi and generally served in a small paper cup. In Los Angeles, where birria de res tacos has become an obsession lately, many people are taking that extra step and dipping their tacos into a consomme. The custom spread on social media, which in turn led to the emergence of birria sellers like Teddy’s Red Tacos, which has one restaurant, two trucks, and more than 100,000 followers on Instagram.
There’s nothing wrong with dipping periya tacos or keeping them dry, either. What a shame it would be to completely miss the Birria-Landia appetizer, so delicious and so meaty that it almost overshadows everything else. Whether through a long simmer or a quick reduction, the broth is as thick as melted butter. It is true that they do not give up. Some traditions simply do not travel to New York. But at $4 a small cup and $6 a large cup, depreciation is a worthwhile expense, especially because it always seems to include a scoop or two of meat.
I had to choose only one of the other 3 things on the menu, I would probably choose mulitas, mostly because it’s hard to find a good mulita in New York. The two molettas aren’t as crunchy as the ones on the tostada, but they do have the benefit of holding the beef in place with the melted mozzarella.
Inside the truck, Jose Moreno and his partner, brother Jesus, grill tortillas, load them with prawns, sprinkle them with sharp, basic tomato sauce, and make the change on $10 and $20 bills. They grew up in the town of Quetzingo in Puebla.
Puebla is not known for its birria. However, she is known for producing a large number of New York restaurant chefs, including the Moreno brothers. Jesús cooked American food – burgers etc. Jose specialized in Italian cuisine, having worked for 20 years in restaurants including Lupa, Parm and Del Posto. Two years ago, Jose was sent to California to help open an Italian restaurant in Los Angeles, where he fell into the trap of the magic of the Tijuana-style birria de res. His favorite place was Teddy. He also traveled to Tijuana several times to study at the source. When it was his turn to cook meals for the employees at Italy, he worked on his own Beria recipe.
If it wasn’t perfect before the Birria-Landia truck started rolling in June, it is now. The business is already changing in response to its popularity. People kept telling Moreno they needed to raise fees, and last week they listened. Tacos and tostadas are now $2.50 each instead of $2, while molettas, previously $3, are $3.50.
A second truck is also under discussion. A filter has already appeared to run it. His name is Javier, and he is Moreno’s third brother.
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