I’m not surprised. I hadn’t tried it until about ten years ago. And I’m a guy who scours the back streets of San Miguel on a constant search for anything new and different. Especially anything Mexican.
The problem with birria is it’s a regional dish, a very regional dish. In the state of Jalisco and, more specifically in its capital, Guadalajara, you may never be further than five blocks from a birrieria. In San Miguel de Allende, there’s really only one. La Milagrosa.
So what is birria? It’s a stew, traditionally a goat stew. The origin of the dish is one of the better folk tales of Mexico. In Celebrating Latin Folklore, Maria Herrera Sobek says, “…legend has it, the dish was invented by accident during the eruption of a volcano, when a shepherd was forced to abandon his goats in a cave only to return a few days later to find that the heat of the lava and the steam from the humidity in the cave had cooked them so perfectly leaving the meat tender and the skin crunchy. In face of this tragedy, he had the idea of collecting the meat and adding some hot sauce, thus creating the dish.”
The birria at La Milagrosa in San Miguel is not a goat stew. Nor is it made from lamb or mutton, the other meats commonly found in birria. La Milagrosa’s birria is birria de res, a beef stew. And what a beef stew! Think of the richness of your mother’s pot roast. Then add a chile accent. La Milagrosa’s birria is about as beefy a dish as you’ll ever taste in your life.
Alejandro Hernandez Diez, La Milagrosa’s chef/owner told me he includes “chile cascabel, chile mirasol, mejorana, oregano, pimientos, jengibre, canela and ajonjoli” in the sauce and it simmers for hours.
The best way to enjoy birria is by keeping it simple. A few chopped onions and cilantro on top. Maybe some hot sauce. Then just a spoon and some tortillas for dipping.
The best place to eat birria is at a coffee table, in front of a TV, and the way to do that is by simply going to ubereats.com.
La Milagrosa Birria Xaliisco offers birria tacos and what they call birria pellizcadas (what I and maybe you call sopes). My recommendation is just to order it “en plato”. It comes in three sizes. The grande is only 30 pesos more than the chico and you may find it’s enough for two at lunch.
And for that little titch of an appetite you might have left? La Milagrosa has a solution for that as well. Another regional dish from Jalisco. A dessert called jericallas.
The custard is a little more dense than flan, a little more like crème brûlée.
Alejandro Hernandez Diez told me it was made of milk, vanilla, cinnamon and “too many eggs”. There’s such a thing as too many eggs?
La Milagrosa Birria Xalisco is located at Salida a Celaya 26 in San Miguel de Allende. You can order from their menu at Uber Eats from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm on Thursday through Sunday, from 9:00 am to 11:00 pm on Saturday and Sunday.