Birrieria Gourmet coming to downtown Tacoma on Commerce
Birrieria Gourmet is expanding to downtown Tacoma at 1026 Commerce St. and its owners will be familiar to local diners.
The brick-and-mortar location will open in January, if all goes as planned.
The fast-casual restaurant will specialize in birria, the slow-cooked Mexican beef dish that has blown up in recent years.
At Birrieria Gourmet, some of the menu will skew high end for a fast-casual restaurant. Birrieria Gourmet will serve halal wagyu with a rating of F1. All their meat served will be grass-fed beef.
The beef is sourced through another local restaurant owner.
Moises Villasenor is Birrieria Gourmet’s owner and he’s also the uncle of David Orozco, of Cuerno Bravo, the upscale Mexican steakhouse in Tacoma’s St. Helens neighborhood. Villasenor said his ability to offer the halal wagyu is thanks to Orozco’s ability to source premium cuts from coveted beef farms.
THE ORIGIN OF BIRRIERIA GOURMET
Before Villasenor and his family opened a food truck called Birrieria Gourmet this year, they opened Ta Carbon, the moderately-priced Mexican steakhouse, in 2018 in Tacoma. They sold that 40-seat restaurant and it currently operates as La Ilusion Al Carbon, with the same style of menu and concept (the family also previously operated Ta Carbon locations in Everett and Port Orchard).
The family opened the Birrieria Gourmet food truck earlier this year because they wanted a concept that was pandemic-proof – and food trucks are about as pandemic-proof as they come – and they also wanted to see how much of a local clientele there would be for the high-end beef product, explained Sofia Trujillo, Villasenor’s daughter who works at the restaurant along with other family members.
“The food truck has been operating for six months. Not a long time, but it’s been really good. It’s had a lot of success,” said Trujillo. They mostly serve in the Federal Way area.
The opening of the Tacoma restaurant will shift the restaurant’s focus back to Pierce County. They eventually intend to use the Tacoma location as the commissary for their food truck, which they will continue operating.
THE MENU OF BIRRIERIA GOURMET
Premium beef is Birrieria Gourmet’s specialty, whether it’s grass-fed beef or higher-end cuts, such as the Australian halal wagyu F1 they plan to serve.
The Villasenor and Trujillo family are from Jalisco, which is considered home to birria, the slow-cooked meat dish. In Mexico, birria can be goat or lamb, but usually in this area, it’s made with beef (but other preparations are a possibility, so if you avoid certain kinds of meat, ask before you order birria during your next birrieria visit).
Quesabirria – cheesy, beefy tacos served with a side of chile-punched consomé – is the purist’s way to eat birria and of course Birrieria Gourmet offers that classic dish.
“The quesabirria is something that you have to try at a birrieria truck or a birrieria restaurant on a first visit. That’s a must try,” said Trujillo. They make theirs in a straightforward recipe – lots of cheese and beef grilled to order in a corn tortilla and served with a savory chile-enlivened consomé for dipping. They’ll also have mulitas, vampiros, burritos, torta sandwiches and more.
Not all dishes at Birrieria Gourmet are straightforward.
Their version of birria ramen, for starters. Villasenior added it to the menu when the weather started to cool and it was an instant hit, said Trujillo. “The meat elevates the ramen,” Trujillo explained. “Birria and caldo are very traditional dishes, but a lot of people do that. So (my dad) he wanted to do something a little different. One day he decided to do the ramen with the birria. It was so super tasty. It’s ramen noodles and then he adds the broth and meat, then cilantro, onions and salsa. He adds half an egg as well. And the broth is the consomé. It’s Japanese ramen, but with a Mexican twist.”
They also serve a birria burger. That one is a double-punch of beef with a wagyu burger patty topped with birria that’s topped with crisped cheese and marinated red onions.
And right now, Villasenor is working on a recipe that he’s excited to debut when the Tacoma location opens: birria sushi.
COFFEE SERVICE IN THE MORNINGS
Right now, they don’t have plans to serve breakfast (but aren’t ruling it out either), but they do plan to have coffee service in the early morning.
MAKING OVER THE SPACE
Diners enter the restaurant to the right of the front door (the location is the former home of Straight From Philly and Vostok Dumpling before that). Inside, diners will find seating for 60, which is an increase from the previous restaurants.
“We took down a wall. There will be more seating for the customers. There was an office in the back and it was a very awkward layout. We thought it wouldn’t be enough space, so we extended the dining room,” said Trujillo.
Diners will order at the counter and find their own seat.
They have not yet applied for a liquor license, but that’s a possibility in the future, said Trujillo.
Watch for an update in January on the opening.
Where: 1126 Commerce St., Tacoma