There’s one reason to go to El Alex, on Fourth Street just south of I-40. It’s a bowl of soup. And it’s good enough to merit the trip on its own.
Birria is made with red chile and meat, which varies according to where it’s prepared. Often it’s goat or sheep. Iguana is not uncommon in the Jalisco and Colima regions. In Zacatecas, where the birria at El Alex traces its lineage, beef is common in the birria, and that’s probably the kind of meat you’ll find at El Alex. I tried to find out for sure, but after I introduced myself over the phone in clumsy Spanish, they refused to talk to me. They probably thought I was selling something.
Joining the meat are cilantro and chopped onion, added to the birria at serving time. After briefly cooking in the hot broth, the onion maintains the bite and aroma of raw but also assumes the texture and sweetness of cooked, creating a vivid contrast against the red heat and the soft meat. Though few, the other ingredients are equally load-bearing. Drops of citrus push the soup into a pho-like dimension. It’s reminiscent of the classic Asian flavor equation of acid, sour, sweet, chile and fat, with herbiness and earthy flavors encircling. By the time a stray piece of fat wilts in the hot, tart broth inside your mouth, you’re happily in the birria section of a street market somewhere in Zacatecas. Sometime after you leave El Alex’s lonely street corner, you’ll notice how spicy it was as your head continues to simmer. Days later you’ll still be thinking of it.
By the time a stray piece of fat wilts in the hot, tart broth inside your mouth, you’re happily in the birria section of a street market somewhere in Zacatecas.
But none of that matters if you’re there for the birria. If you are, then you will leave happy. And if you aren’t ordering it, well, you should be.
The Alibi Recommends:
Plato de birria estilo Zacatecas