Keeping the foodservice equipment marketplace up to date with the latest menu and concept trends.


Elevating Birria

A spicy and savory Mexican dish of stewed meat, birria tacos are trending in the Mexican segment and on social media. 

TREND Birria bowlThe Basics

A popular dish that originated in the Mexican state of Jalisco, birria is a type of stew that traditionally contains goat meat but may substitute beef, lamb, pork or mutton. After being marinaded in a combination of dried chiles, vinegar, garlic, and various herbs and spices, broth is added prior to cooking. Birria can be eaten as a stew or as a Mexican handheld like tacos, burritos or quesadillas and served with cilantro, lime and onion as condiments. Birria menu mentions increased 27.6% over the past year, according to Chicago-based Technomic’s Ignite menu data.

Birria By the Numbers

  • 31% of consumers know it
  • 18% have tried it
  • 16% love or like it
  • Found on only 2.2% of menus
  • Expected to outperform all other foods over the next four years

Source: Birria Food Profile report, Datassential

Concept Close-Up

El Tragón Taqueria


TREND El Tragon BirriaOwner Gerardo Madrigal’s inspiration for El Tragón Taqueria stems from small taco places in Mexico’s Jalisco region. Business primarily centers around off-premises consumption, but there are six tables on-site.

“Birria is a top-selling item, which became popular when someone in America decided to add it to cheesy tacos,” Madrigal says. “It adds a lot of flavor to different dishes, such as tacos and soup, or can be served solo with rice and beans. Lately, people are getting more creative, adding birria to pasta or in Chinese dishes.”

El Tragón Taqueria’s birria is made with slowly braised beef and incorporates more than 20 ingredients, including cinnamon, garlic and peppercorn. “In Jalisco, it is traditionally made with lamb or goat, and there are different cooking methods, depending on location,” Madrigal says. “In Jalisco, birria is cooked for hours on the ground in a hole.”

Today, Madrigal notes many chefs are experimenting with different types and cuts of meat for this dish. He uses a mixer to combine ingredients that include dry chiles and tomatoes, which creates a paste marinade. The birria is rubbed with this concoction a day prior to cooking, then refrigerated in a walk-in overnight. The next day, water is added before the meat is slow-braised for five hours on the range top. The beef is then separated with tongs, and the broth is retained and served on the side.

An Inside Look

Birria checks numerous boxes in terms of flavor and uses. It can be a stew or a topping, is both spicy and savory, and easily adapts to different concepts, says Helen Jane Hearn, National Restaurant Association’s senior director of enterprise programs.

It is the cooking method, rather than specific protein, that sets this food apart, Hearn notes. “Although authentic birria includes goat because this has a stronger flavor, we’re seeing it made with beef or pork in the U.S.”

Although birria is mostly used as a taco filling, with the juice or broth serving as a dip, it has also been seen more recently as a nacho topping, a sandwich ingredient or a fry accompaniment. “It could be casual or formal, so that’s where the excitement is,” Hearn says. 

NRA’s research shows that the birria trend has exploded over the last two to three years and is now becoming more widespread across the country. “Los Angeles and Texas are arguing about where its popularity started,” Hearn says.