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Silence of the Lambs: Praising the Bountiful Borrego of El Birrias Restaurant

As much as I love the traditional tastes of goat meat in the many birria dishes in and around the South Texas area, as good as they truly are, it’s a place like El Birrias, 1933 N. MacArthur, with their most holy offerings of stewed sheep, that has many of those places and their cabra offerings often beaten straight to Hell.

Even though I have spent much of my invaluable local time at Birrieria Diaz down in Bethany, I haven’t been in quite a while, for reasons that you probably don’t care about.

Regardless, last week I treated my mother to lunch at El Birrias, after a rather strenuous trip to one of my many doctors. Though she undoubtedly disagreed, I needed some of that healing lamb in my system.

My mother, a tried-and-true Latina, would not be as adventurous an eater in this spicy merry-go-round, as she has a serious spiritual issue with the eating of lamb, equating it to a sacrificial dalliance with the Dark One. As much as I’d like to religiously agree with her, I had to say sorry because those woolen bastards produce some of the most perfect meat known to humanity.

“Maybe that’s their Biblical gift to man?” I responded to her steely glare.

Still, I at least ordered an appetizer that I thought she might like to nibble on, as long as she doesn’t have a problem with thick slices of bacon served around a fat jalapeno. Even though they’re known by different names all over, I genuinely enjoyed the Jalapenos Gordo ($7.99), mainly for the most personal of sizest reasons.

Featuring a plate full of large jalapenos, stuffed with cheese and then wrapped with bacon and ham, there was a true art to them, one that took on another dimension as I bit into one, unleashing a fiery furnace that I was in no way expecting; the jalapenos singed my tastebuds, the cooling cheese doing what it could, but it was the salty pork products that offered a healing balm to my fragrantly-on-fire tongue. I accepted.

My mother, always one to order the most knowingly vegetarian-friendly meal on the menu, ordered the Enchiladas Vegetarianas ($10.99), exceedingly true to her caustic form. Her mighty plate came blessed with three enchiladas, packed with multiple vegetables including onions, carrots, celery, and peas, then topped with a thick green sauce, slices of avocado and a few handfuls of queso fresco—it ain’t that vegetarian.

After she had the few requisite forkfuls, I used my spoon to rudely cut in and take a couple of tastes myself, for purely academic reasons. While it’s probably something that I wouldn’t order at a place famous for their birria, I have to admit it was still a delightful concoction, one that made my mother very happy to politely enjoy.

But what truly matters is the borrego on my plate, as their medium helping of Birria de Borrego ($11.99) left nothing to the imagination, absolutely covering ever single inch of white space in that greasy sheep’s meat and assorted heated red liquids, as well as a selection of onions, limes and cilantro, all raining down on my plate from Heaven in a torrent of brilliant tastes.

And, of course, it was fucking amazing. The lean sheep, with its oily demeanor, dribbled down the front of my shirt as I vociferously engulfed the stew; I attempted to catch much of what I could with a corn tortilla and I mostly did, making a bigger mess but I really didn’t care…I didn’t care at all.

With a gamy taste that is truly like nothing on this plane of existence, it’s one of those things you’ll have to come to terms with yourself and fully try if you’re ever going to fully understand my eternal love for birria. Unless, of course, you’re my mother. She’s just going to pray for me.


Follow Louis on Twitter at @LouisFowler and Instagram at @louisfowler78.

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