Gut check: The Mexican haggis at Taqueria y Birrieria Morelia | Bleader

Gut check: The Mexican haggis at Taqueria y Birrieria Morelia

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Montalayo taco. Gusty!

When Goat Lord Juan Zaragoza recommends a place for birria, it should be taken as an order, which is why I did something I've never done before: drove right past Birrieria Zaragoza without stopping, then ordered a bowl and a couple tacos eight blocks south at Taqueria y Birrieria Morelia. As the name implies, owner Gustavo Hernandez hails from Michoacan (where Morelia is the capital), and he makes the more common stewed goat in consomme (unlike the roasted birria tatemada at BZ), as well as a regional by-product made with the innards known as montalayo, a sort of haggis built from the stomach lining stuffed with minced intestines, liver, and kidneys, similar to the Jaliciense machito—just gutsier. Juan phoned Hernandez that I was on my way, so I can't guarantee that he always fills these darlings as generously as he did for me, but a little goes a long way. Goat guts, as you might imagine, are powerfully strong to begin with, and these are no exception, though they're heavily seasoned with chile, onions, and peppers, and a dollop of one of the three house-made salsas also helps tame the offal, just as some raw onion mitigates the soft scrambled-egg texture.

tortilla, Taqueria y Birrieria Morelia
  • Mike Sula
  • House-made tortilla, Taqueria y Birrieria Morelia

But what really elevates them—and any of the other tacos there—are the extraordinary house-made tortillas. Unlike any I've seen before, they're made with a mixture of masa and wheat flour. Superthin and soft, they take on a lovely smoky char when they hit the griddle.

Birria

The birria itself is pretty good (though Juan doesn't have to worry), full of big chunks of tender goat that deepen the flavor of the consomme.

Carne en su jugo, Taqueria y Birrieria Morelia
  • Mike Sula
  • Carne en su jugo, Taqueria y Birrieria Morelia

It's surprising that the birria's that good in fact, since Taqueria y Birrieria Morelia isn't just focusing on chivo. It has a full menu of Mexican standards (tacos, burritos, tortas, etc) and a few not-so-Mexican ones (hamburgers, subs). We also tried the off-menu carne en su jugo, which had a fairly weak broth relative to the birria but was loaded with big pieces of griddle-crisped bacon and steak. Not a bad bowl overall.

It's hard to imagine passing up Zaragoza just for birria again, but there's a lot of love coming out of the little kitchen that makes it well worth checking out. Do it for the tortillas.

Taqueria y Birrieria Morelia

Taqueria y Birrieria Morelia, 5620 S. Pulaski, 773-498-6960

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