Rival chefs join new Santa Rosa food truck

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Chef Miguel Canseco likes to say he was the first to introduce Sonoma County to tacos quesabirria, the now-popular creation of birria beef and cheese folded in a fried tortilla with a consomme to dip. They are bestsellers in his Taqueria El Paisa in Rohnert Park and his food truck Tacos El Paisa in the Roseland district of Santa Rosa.

But chef José Rodriguez likes to say no, he was the first to offer quesabirria in his Taqueria El Fogón in Rohnert Park. Customers love its extra-cheesy version (also available as a burrito).

Either way, the two say their quesabirria is hands down the best. This has created a semi-playful competition between them for several years now, as is well known to their families and friends.

So when the two men joined forces a few months ago to launch Tacos Tijuana, it raised some eyebrows. What quesabirria would reign supreme over the hybrid tractor-trailer and Santa Rosa’s small kitchen?

Canseco and Rodriguez have compromised, according to their business partner and marketing manager Uriel Brena, and somehow, Tacos Tijuana’s quesabirria is even better.

“I feel like none of us could have done this project alone, even though all of a sudden everyone was like, ‘Who has the better birria? “Said Brena.” That doesn’t mean you don’t like her. They are friends, so they made their recipes and made them even better. “

The description of these delicious street treats adds to the collaboration. At Tacos Tijuana, the menu describes their version as “a shotgun marriage of a quesadilla and a taco birria; the quesabirria consisted of red-stained tortillas, heaps of grated meat, and a large amount of melted cheese.

If this sounds familiar to you, it’s because it’s the same description as in El Fogón. Yet Tacos Tijuana’s chef, Edwin Hernandez Garcia, worked in El Paisa. The mystery thickens.

I’ll just say this – I love the quesabirria at El Paisa and El Fogón, but it’s Tacos Tijuana for the win. They are simply sumptuous with succulent beef braised with guajillo and ancho peppers, stuffed with lots of creamy cheese spouting out of the tortilla and seared until crisp in a dollop of golden fat from the pot of birria. You’ll dip all four tacos in the savory consommé and fiercely devour each bite ($ 15.99).

Many cities, flavors

Tucked away in the beer garden behind Shady Oak Barrel House, next to Santa Rosa Plaza, Tacos Tijuana is a fascinating and uniquely Mexican culinary enterprise.

Beyond this tantalizing quesabirria, it offers specialties from Oaxaca, Michoacán, Mexico City and, of course, Tijuana. It also has an extensive menu of vegan and vegetarian options, bursting with flavors so succulent and full that you will never run out of meat or dairy.

The connections between Oaxaca, Michoacán and Mexico City are a tribute to the origins of the chefs and Brena. The connection to Tijuana comes from the fact that after the trio started sharing stories, they found out that they had all entered the United States at the city border and tasted the food there.

“One day we were hanging out and realized we had all gone to one place in search of the American Dream,” Brena said. “The night we decided to set up this project, we continued to talk about Tijuana. I don’t know if it’s because we were so poor back then and we were so hungry – physically, and for the wishes of a better life – but the food we had there was the best we have. have never had in our life. “

Last month’s grand opening party set the tone for the uniqueness of Tacos Tijuana in the community. Rodriguez once owned a catering and event supply business. So guests were greeted with a fantastic bounce house designed like a cowboy ranch, complete with inflatable ox skulls, log walls, a bronco backdrop, and a mechanical faux bull that the kids could ride on.

Serenaded mariachis with soaring melodies and booming trumpets. Members of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce mingled with guests sipping cerveza, and Cosmo the Black Cat watched the crowds from his perch on a Game of Thrones arcade machine in Shady Oak Bar. Some 400 people attended, and many lined up in front of the caravan to buy iconic dishes like Garcia’s famous al pastor, slowly roasted on a vertical trombo roasting pan.

He’s one of the best pastors I’ve ever enjoyed. Tinted with rust by its sweet-spicy marinade of pineapple juice, peppers, oregano, annatto and cumin, the tender meat is stacked in double corn tortillas with pieces of grilled pineapple, cilantro, onion minced white and an unusual addition of roasted potato ($ 2.99).

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