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It’s Time for Quesabirria Tacos (And Not Taco Bell’s)

Cheesy tacos and steamy cups of consomé have officially entered the chat

Three quesabirria tacos with a side of consomé on a silver plate.
The quesabirria taco is a dish for all seasons, but especially fall.
The Washington Post via Getty Im
Jackie Gutierrez-Jones is the editor of Eater Nashville. She has over a decade of experience writing, editing, and leading content teams in the food, drink, travel, and tech space.

Taco Bell’s done it again. And by that, I mean co-opted a regional Mexican dish with a rich history and turned it into something recognizable but strangely sanitized for mass consumption. On August 3, the fast-food behemoth launched its Grilled Cheese Dipping Taco, and, well… it looks a lot like a quesabirria taco. (Spoiler: It’s a quesabirria taco.)

Which, fine. There’s a time and place for fast-food renditions of comfort dishes (often at 3 a.m. on a Saturday night). But before you bee-line for the Taco Bell drive-thru, you should know that you have other options in Nashville.

First, let’s talk about what makes a quesabirria taco. It’s all right there in the name: “queso” (cheese) and “birria” (beef or goat stew). The cheese and birria meat are pressed together inside a corn tortilla on a grill — much like a quesadilla — keeping the whole thing intact for every single bite. But the beauty of this dish is all in the consomé that’s served on the side. That broth — the rich, spicy liquid the beef rendered in — deserves its propers as a standalone dish. You can (and should) dunk your quesabirria into it like a glorified French dip, but also treat it like its very own course, gulping the satiny broth so that it dribbles down your chin/white shirt (it’s always the white shirt, isn’t it?). On a crisp fall Nashville afternoon, it slaps.

If you’re on the hunt for locally-made quesabirria tacos, there are a handful of spots around town that do it right. Donelson’s Birrieria y Taquería Arandas and East Nashville’s El Jaliciense Méxican Restaurant have the dish on their menus, as does West Coast Tacos down in Franklin. But for my money, I’m hitting up Maiz de la Vida’s food truck every single time. Julio Hernandez’s tortillas are made using a traditional Mexican process called nixtamalization, and the result is nothing short of life-changing. I brought two trays of his quesabirria tacos to a Super Bowl party earlier this year, and they dusted everything else that was on the table. I would’ve given my condolences to all of the wings and seven-layer dip there, but I was too busy wiping consomé off of my white shirt.