The taco de quesabirria has Mexican food lovers in its grip, smiling at us all with orange oil smiles now that Tijuana’s specialty has traveled so far north. But while placing an order for crispy, gooey beef tacos with a side of dark red consommé goes by way too quickly, the journey from pot to plate is a long one.
According to Gabriela Patino, who works with her mother, Beatriz Cruz, and father, Rodrigo Patino, at Patino’s Mexican food truck (4050 Broadway, Eureka), Cruz begins by marinating the beef overnight before slowly simmering it with spices over low heat for three to four hours. This process takes about 14 hours before she throws a single corn tortilla on the grill. Once the tortillas are cooked, they get a touch of rich, fatty broth from cooking the beef, which gives the tacos a bubbly, crispy texture. Next, Cruz adds Monterey Jack cheese, a ball of shredded beef, and a sprinkle of cilantro and chopped white onion before flipping the tacos closed.
An order of quesabirria comes with four of the tacos, oozing with melted cheese, browned edges on the grill, with incredibly tender meat inside. A dip in the consommé (possibly picking up a chunk of glistening fat) adds to the juiciness and stew flavor, and a squeeze of lime reduces the richness and sharpens the flavors of the marinade.
“I always grew up eating them and it’s always been a tradition for my brothers and my birthdays,” says Gabriela, whose mother and father were born in Mexico City and Guanajuato, Mexico, respectively, and moved to Humboldt. over 25 years ago. from. Cruz worked in restaurant kitchens as well as her own for years, starting with the defunct Rico’s Tacos, Rita’s Café, Fiesta Grill and Tacos El Pueblo. “My mum has been in the kitchen for a very, very long time and she thought it was time to start her own business,” says Gabriela. In January of this year, that’s what the family did.
Patino’s truck is parked by Pierson’s Building Center daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., drawing a steady crowd for its classic Mexican truck menu, as well as dollar street tacos on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. The homemade menudo soup with tripe and hominy is a recent addition to the weekend deals and so far it’s selling out, so come early.