After two lunches at Birrieria Jalisco and a take-home dinner, I’m eager to go back.
This unassuming restaurant in a south Lexington shopping center provides in flavor and friendly service what it lacks in pretension and variety. If you want a really tasty taco for $1.75, or a torta — Mexican sandwich — that can feed two for $7, or just to sample the handmade tortillas for $2, it’s worth driving a few extra minutes from the chain restaurants that otherwise dominate the area.
A note on the tortillas: Restaurants often throw around terms like homemade (which I’ve never understood, because a restaurant, after all, is not my home) and handmade with very little evidence to support them. But at Birrieria Jalisco, you see the tortillas being hand-pressed and cooked. The result is a large, fresh, hot flour tortilla that will put all the others you’ve eaten to shame. You have to wait a bit for all the made-to-order food, but the Spanish-language soap operas on TV are a fine diversion.
The tortillas and three desserts that I didn’t sample are just about the only menu items that would suit a vegetarian. The rest of the menu is dominated by chicken, pork, beef (grilled and steamed) and goat versions of the menu offerings. I thought all the meat was good quality, lots of flavor with little fat and no gristle, and we learned that the goat comes from a local producer in Winchester.
Goat is unusual in this market, so I tried a couple of varieties. The birria en su jugo chivo, or goat stew, $8.99, was a wonderful tomato-based stew with big chunks of goat that had been sautéed first. It comes with a tortilla. When you get any of the stews, you are invited to amend them from a small buffet that includes cilantro, onion, lemon and sauces, which range up to very hot. I also tried the corn quesadilla with goat, $7.60, which I didn’t think was quite as successful. There was so much meat in it that the goat flavor, which can be a little strong, sort of overwhelmed the lovely corn covering.
Not so the pork torta that I had at lunch on one visit. Sadly, I was by myself, which meant I was faced with the dilemma of overeating or leaving some of it behind. The filling — frankly I’m not sure exactly what is in it, but it included some mix of jalapeños, lettuce, something creamy and pork that had been cooked in some well-spiced tomato based sauce (this is not the kind of restaurant that has a long description of every ingredient in every dish) — sat in a huge long bun of white bread that itself was really good. The combination was great. In the end, I had to set aside some of the bun because I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving any of the filling behind. It might be a nice thing to order when you’re there with a friend and can share a couple of tacos as a go-before.
Speaking of the tacos, they are delightful corn tortillas filled with a mixture of roasted, spiced meat and just a hint of pineapple. It’s a really interesting and good combination.
I loved the food I ate at the restaurant but thought it lost something a few hours later, even reheated. If you want to go that route, just be ready to eat as soon as you get it home. Eating at home did give us the chance to have a large salad, adding a vegetable note that’s distinctly missing from the menu, and to have beer or wine, which Birrieria Jalisco doesn’t serve.
Eat in or take out, it’s worth a try.
Where: 3330 Partner Place, Suite 114
Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Mon.-Sat., 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Sun.
Notes: Major credit cards, not vegetarian friendly, no alcohol