One of the most exciting restaurant openings of 2020 is one that occurred with little fanfare and almost no forewarning. Birria-Landia, the Jackson Heights taco truck often credited with putting birria tacos on New York City’s radar, announced the opening of a second location in Williamsburg this week.
The taco truck rolled into its new home on the corner of Metropolitan and Meeker Avenue on Thursday and immediately drew crowds. Blame it on Birria-Landia’s cult following, or pin it on the free consomme the truck advertised on its Instagram, but if last night is any indication, getting these tacos is going to take some work. Starting at 5 p.m. last night, a steady stream of customers lined up along Metropolitan Avenue, waiting to try tacos from the new location.
Just like Birria-Landia’s Jackson Heights location, the menu at the new truck includes birria tacos ($3), tostadas ($3), mulitas ($4), and cups of fatty consomme broth ($4 small, $6 large). The new taco truck appears to be slightly larger than the original, with an expanded kitchen and longer outdoor countertops.
The new Williamsburg taco truck is the second location from brothers José and Jesús Moreno, who opened their original spot last summer in Jackson Heights, on the corner of 78th Street and Roosevelt Avenue. Within just a few weeks of opening, their food truck drew the attention of the city’s many critics for its birria tacos, whose tortillas are crisped on the griddle, dipped in beef fat, and then stuffed with shredded meat.
In August 2019, Eater critic Robert Sietsema found that the birria tacos served at Birria-Landia rivaled those found in Los Angeles, where the dish made its United States debut. Grub Street deemed the taco truck to be the absolute best street food in Queens and, in November, New York Times critic Pete Wells took that review one step further, writing that Birria-Landia had “changed the taco landscape” in the city.
Birria-Landia is credited by some with putting birria on the city’s radar, but the dish predates the truck’s year-long tenure on Roosevelt Avenue. Notably, the El Bronco taco truck near Green-Wood Cemetery in south Brooklyn served the dish as a soup in a paper cup, while others, including Sabor a Mexico and Taqueria Coatzingo, offered the dish in taco form, albeit without a side of consomme. A half-dozen variations of birria— served at sit-down restaurants, in fast-casual-style bowls, and made using oxtail — can now be found across the city.