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A&E >  Food

Stew on it: Birria, a traditional Mexican dish, is being offered on menus across downtown Spokane

UPDATED: Wed., Feb. 17, 2021

By Kris Kilduff For The Spokesman-Review

How we decide what and where to eat has changed greatly in the last 20 years. It used to be a friend telling you over a backyard barbecue where they had a great steak, but now it’s a plethora of pictures, videos and first-hand experiences fed in front of your face. With that birthed the best form of a viral video, one you can eat.

One of the greatest recent examples is the influx of birria, the traditional Mexican goat and guajillo chile stew. Often used as a celebratory meal in the state of Jalisco for weddings, baptisms and holidays, birria has made its way to Southern California and up the West Coast.

With birria’s popularity, chefs have taken it to the next level and created a fusion of delicious and dunkable eats that have made their way to Spokane. Here are five places downtown where you can check out the newest trendy treat that is giving the French dip a run for its money.

Borracho Tacos & Tequileria

211 N. Division St., (509) 822-7789 and borrachospokane.com

Whether you want to gorge yourself on a burrito the size of your arm or gather with a group for late-night libations, Borracho is one of the most popular central hubs for anything happening downtown. Recently, the Jeremy Tangen-owned string of restaurants/bars implemented a High Five Loyalty Card to stay more connected with customers and offer great deals to regulars.

With that level of consumer engagement, it didn’t take long for the team to discover the demand and make adjustments to the menu to make room for the viral foodie hit. Borracho offers two corn tortillas dredged in house-made, chili oil-infused consommé filled with signature barbacoa and imported queso chihuahua served crisp.

Submerge the spice with a giant margarita or cinnamon churro bites, and you’ve got a meal in the making.

Peace Pie Pizzeria

19 W. Main Ave., (509) 315-4581 and peacepiepizzeria.com

One of my favorite things about food is innovation, with chefs fusing styles and flavors to come up with something new and exciting. Saranac Commons is a great space for collaborating, and it is multiple businesses in an open-air complex where you can walk a few steps and find everything from a plant store to chef Isaac Hougers by-the-slice New York-style pizzeria.

With the demand of birria looming, Peace Pie decided it would be fun to team up with neighbors Black Label Brewing and every Thursday offer a limited goat stout birria in which you could easily fold an oversized slice of pie in half for dipping.

They then took the extra step in creating a specialty pizza using braised goat meat, Oaxaca cheese and diced red onions and cilantro lightly pickled in lime juice. The result is a mix of flavors that isn’t really pizza, isn’t really birria, but something in and of itself remarkable.

Lions Lair

205 W. Riverside Ave., (509) 456-5678 and facebook.com/lionslairspokane

If you asked local bar-goers to give you an overview of unique fun drinkeries downtown, Lions Lair would surely be atop the list. Owner Candace Diams has transformed the off-the-beaten-path dive bar into a wrecking ball of vibrant creativeness with attitude to match.

Through the COVID-19 shutdowns, Diams and her team decided it would be a great time to remodel their kitchen and menu. Out of that transformation became what now has been the most popular item.

Not only do you get succulent, seared birria tacos, but if you have the need to slurp, you can transition to bowls of consommé-steeped ramen. Add cilantro, lime, jalapeno and a soft-boiled egg, and you’ve found a surefire way to stay warm all winter.

Globe Bar + Kitchen

204 N. Division St., (509) 443-4014 and globespokane.com

When chef Amanda Hillmann isn’t running the kitchen in one of downtown’s most popular late-night hangouts, she runs Modernist Cooks, a fun and vibrant take on upscale cooking classes for kids, adults and foodies. When you’re working that close to the public, you have to stay on your toes with food trends and what customers want.

As birria became popular, the Globe jumped on it offering shredded barbecue pork carnitas served in a crisp quesadilla with melty Monterey jack and a spicy birria broth for dipping. It’s a true punch of flavor, but that’s no surprise when it sits on a menu that also offers amazing entrees such as Thai pineapple fried rice, blackberry barbecue wings and walnut fried shrimp.

Cochinito Taqueria10 N. Post St., (509) 474-9618 and cochinitotaqueria.com

Cochinito is quickly becoming Spokane’s go-to place for tacos. Head chef and owner Travis Dickinson not only makes fresh tortillas daily, but he also offers a mix of old world authentic Mexican flavors with a more contemporary flair from his fine dining background. And his take on dippable birria tacos is no different.

Small but mighty, these hand-sized tortillas are dipped in house-made beef consommé, filled with rich, slow-cooked short ribs and asadero cheese, seared on the flat top and sprinkled with onion and cilantro. Order them individually or as a platter – just don’t forget to order fantastic sides of elote, posole and chile-lime chicharrons.

Kris Kilduff can be reached at kris.kilduff56@gmail.com.

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