The Secret’s in the Sauce

Though I know my title will likely conjure images of the character Sipsey in the film Fried Green Tomatoes, but I am in no way implying the meat offered at Secret Birria is people. But it is, in fact, all about the sauce, or I should say the consommé. As I’m sure you know, birria tacos (yes, I’m talking tacos again), the Mexican answer to the French dip, has been sweeping the nation over the past couple of years and it’s finally hit New Orleans.

Located Uptown on Octavia Street, Secret Birria wasn’t the first in town to offer this unique, Mexican street food from Jalisco. I believe that honor goes to Mawi, the first and only tortilla-maker in the area. Regardless, Secret Birria opened about six months ago in mid-November 2020 and has been booming ever since. So much so, in fact, they launched a breakfast spot dubbed Hairy Dog earlier this month, which holds court in the same location during the morning hours.

Back in January when there were still restrictions, I was anxious to try Secret Birria, so John and I ordered online ahead of time, cruised by the obscure locale and got takeout. At the time, there were folks dining outside and a line of cars waiting to pick up their goodies, which was the only way we could be sure we were in the right location. The space looks like what may have been some kind of front office to an apartment complex and there was no signage.

It was difficult to resist opening the bag and scarfing its contents immediately, because as soon as I got it in the car, the bag exuded an intoxicating aroma. But we persevered! We made it back to the apartment, unpacked our goodies and set to. The meal began with fresh, still popping from the fryer cracklins and their birria-laced queso. While the consommé or broth included with all of our items is not a sauce, per se, it was the driving force or flavor in all of our food. Essentially, that’s what birria is, a consommé made from a slow braised beef (traditionally goat), guajillo, onions, garlic and earthy seasonings like cinnamon and clove.

We dipped our crackling cracklins in the birria queso, and dipped the beefy, crisp, flour-shelled tacos and “birriarito” into tubs of the oh-so aromatic birria. We sipped the heady broth, too! It was all pretty delicious, though the star of the show was always the consommé. We also thought the “birriarito” wasn’t nearly as stellar as the tacos, but that won’t stop me from going back to try their interesting fusion dish, Birria Ramen.

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