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Taco Shack’s Birria Trend Wows Taste Buds in Port Chester

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AdobeStock/James

Part stew, part street food classic, Taco Shack’s birria tacos are the latest flavor-filled sensation to hit Westchester County.

The hunt for the perfect taco is deliciously everlasting. So, hold on to your sombreros, because Taco Shack in Port Chester is cooking up the latest craveable street food obsession that’s been enticing NYC taco aficionados from Queens to the lower east side.

The traditional birria taco has finally hit Westchester and ignited appetites. “Birria has taken over. It’s the main thing right now,” says owner Luis Aguilera.

So, what is birria? Is it a stew? Is it a taco? Uh…yes.

Birria — traditionally made with goat that’s been chili-rubbed, fire-roasted, then slow cooked and served swimming in a flavor-packed stew — is native to the northern state of Jalisco (capital Guadalajara) in Mexico. It migrated further north through Tijuana, becoming a ubiquitous street food in taco form and landed in LA where it’s already a much-lauded staple of the west coast’s northern Mexican culinary scene.

Taco Shack’s iteration starts with beef brisket, seared then slow cooked for four hours in a stew scented with spices like cinnamon and clove and mild chilis (including chipotle, the berry-tart guajillo as well as ancho for a sweet, smoky, vinegary counterpoint). “From front to end, you’re gonna taste it,” says Aguilera.

Corn tortillas are then stuffed with the tender meat, pico de gallo, and roasted corn then dipped into the unctuous, fatty top layer of stew before being tossed on the griddle. “Then we add lime juice, onions, and cilantro to bring it back to earth,” says Aguilera. To enjoy it the traditional way, order a side of the juices, or consommé, then dunk the parcel of goodness so it soaks up even more flavor. “It’s kind of like an au jus but you can literally drink it,” says Aguilera.

Let’s pause for breath.

Beer lover, Aguilera, says consider pairing your birria with a nice German lager or pilsner. Or try a hazy New England IPA. “The tartness with the birria is great,” he says. 

Beyond birria, Taco Shack’s trendy interior and focus on a variety of tacos made with fresh, local ingredients (many sourced from Fable Foods in Ossining) have set them apart amid Port Chester’s delightfully packed culinary scene. And, while indoor dining has been limited during the pandemic, Aguilera’s creativity blossomed like a cactus flower. “We opened our doors to entrepreneurs who didn’t have restaurants,” he says.

In order to help sustain the business and surrounding community, Taco Shack started hosted pop-ups for local food artisans who make everything from bagels to empanadas, forming a food community that continues to support each other.   

But the glorious taco is still king at Taco Shack. So, if you’re looking to take your craving to next-level greatness with a stuffed tortilla fried in stewed, chili-laden fat, then it’s birria you’re after.

Taco Shack
27 N Main St, Port Chester
914.481.5551