Given the choice between a dozen mediocre dishes or one spectacular one, we'd opt for the latter every time. Hola Cabrito — an authentic Mexican birria joint — seems to agree. At this establishment, there are no multi-page menus or pre-meal chips and guacamole. There is just you, your order of bírria (a popular Mexican dish of spicy goat meat), and the space in between.
It's likely you’ve never passed by Hola Cabrito before. Located on the outskirts of downtown Phoenix, Hola Cabrito is a restaurant among warehouses. The surroundings served no indication that we were even headed to a restaurant while driving to Hola Cabrito. However, when we pulled up to the little yellow restaurant and its packed parking lot, we knew others had found it first.
As we waited to be seated, a hostess kindly made sure we were aware of Hola Cabrito’s small menu. Bírria is the mainstay, and all other items — menudo, bírria consommé, and Mexican Coca-Cola — are simply supplements.
Hola Cabrito serves bírria by the half-pound and you're given a choice of just meat or meat on the bone. On a recommendation from our waiter, we ordered a mix of the two to ensure the proper ratio of meat to fat. We ordered a half-pound per person.
Each half-pound order of bírria comes with six homemade tortillas, fresh cilantro, chopped white onion, lime wedges, and a spicy red salsa. Just as our condiments were set down, the heaping plate of bírria arrived. Needless to say, a silent frenzy of taco-making ensued.
The bírria was spectacularly flavored. Goat can sometimes have an overwhelming flavor, but this goat married so well with the spices it was cooked in and the flavors were perfectly balanced. The homemade tortillas were light and soft. We had a taste of the salsa by itself, and found it to be intensely deep and spicy in flavor. However, when mixed with everything else, the spice was dampened slightly and nicely highlighted the meat's flavor.
Along with our bírria we ordered consommé, a soup made by clarifying the bírria broth. The soup was simple, but such a nice addition to the meal. In between bites of taco, a slurp of the consommé reinforced the meat's flavor.
It certainly is gutsy for a restaurant to make a single star dish. But, when you cook one dish as well as Hola Cabrito does, there's no need for more.
4835 South 16th Street
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