During the pandemic, TikTok was filled with birria tacos, and they have now arrived in the Columbia area. Not every Mexican restaurant and food truck in the city serves birria tacos, but it has been a success among the restaurants that are serving birria dishes.
Birria tacos — crispy, orange tacos stuffed with cheese, onions, cilantro and meat, typically dipped in a flavorful broth called consommé — have been gaining attention in Columbia since the pandemic.
The trend of birria tacos in the U.S. came from the Hispanic community in Los Angeles, California after the commercial of Teddy’s Red Tacos, one of the restaurants that contributed to the trend, aired during the 2019 Super Bowl on ESPN Deportes, the Spanish-language TV channel.
The trend also went viral on TikTok. Its users have created videos of eating, introducing and making birria tacos since 2019. The hashtag #birriatacos has more than 660 million views on TikTok.
Second-year marketing student Angelina Hernandez said she was aware of the trend on TikTok and had tried birria tacos last year. She ate birria tacos from Bruno’s Taqueria, which is permanently closed, and Los Chicanos Food Truck at Soda City. She said she hopes more Mexican restaurants close to campus will introduce birria tacos to their menus.
The arrival of birria tacos in Columbia has added more local options for traditional Mexican cuisine.
Real Mexico Restaurant, at 2421 Bush River Rd, is the first restaurant in Columbia that started serving birria tacos around July 2020, according to the general manager of the restaurant, Armando Favila.
Favila said the idea of serving birria tacos as one of the restaurant’s specials came about from the pandemic. He wanted to introduce something special to encourage more people to come try their new dishes.
“Even if the customers don’t tell you (about the food) sometimes, the amount of product that you cook every day is what is telling you,” Favila said. “Yes, it’s good, because we are cooking more and more (birria) every day.”
Having made birria, Favila said he recognized that birria has been one of the popular dishes at the restaurant.
Besides the tacos, the restaurant also offers a variety of birria dishes — birria burrito, birria quesadilla, birria torta (a Mexican-style sandwich with birria), and surprisingly, birria ramen. Every dish comes with consommé.
“It’s a little strange for a Mexican restaurant. Birria ramen, but it is working. People like to try something different,” Favila said.
The other place to enjoy birria tacos is Los Chicanos Food Truck at Soda City Market, weekly food and craft market on Main Street, which is walking distance from the USC campus. The food truck usually travels around the Columbia area, such as Fells Fargo on Greystone Boulevard and WECO Bottle & Biergarten.
The Los Chicanos Food Truck has been serving birria tacos, named “quesa tacos,” on its menu since 2021, according to Wendy Favila, one of the family members of Armando Favila and social media manager of the truck. She also said a reporter for the Post and Courier Free Times praised the tacos.
“(The reporter) described that the name of the tacos in the description doesn’t give it enough justice of how good it is,” Favila said.
Los Chicanos also offers other birria dishes, including birria chimichangas and birria nachos.
“Chimichanga, because I think we’re the only one who does the chimichanga,” Favila said on her choice of a recommendation.
The recipes of birria differ from region to region, as well as the flavors, according to Armando Favila.
“It’s because Mexico is a very big country, and they have many regions, many flavors (of birria), it all depends on where the cook, or where the restaurant owner, or the chef is coming from,” he said. “It all depends on who’s cooking it in the region.”