Beechnut @ Bissonnet
UPDATE APRIL 2015: CLOSED. ALL BUT THE BASKIN ROBBINS ON THIS CORNER IS BEING DEMOLISHED. AN ALDI WILL BE PART OF THE REPLACEMENTS.
It's been about a year and a half since I've been to this place. Out of sight, out of mind and I don't drive by this intersection as often as I used to, plus they've always been open very limited hours. In fact, for a long time after they started serving, I thought they had come and gone and I had missed them. Recently I made it a point to check them out again.
They serve only one thing - birria de chivo. Birria means mess or stew, I think, and it can involve any meat but around here it usually means goat and this place makes that clear. They're located in what was originally a Bambolino's Drive-thru Pizza by the Slice kiosk (wasn't that one of Ninfa's restaurant group ventures?) and were only open Friday-Saturday-Sunday from around daybreak until they ran out, usually by early afternoon. For such a limited menu, limited hours operation, they did very well.
There was only a handwritten menu, scrawled on a piece of cardboard and taped in a window and practically unreadable. Fortunately, the owner speaks some English.
There have been some changes. The piece of cardboard is gone, replaced by a bright yellow piece of poster board in one of the windows. If you stare at it intently, in just the right light, you can see that at one time it had writing on it, perhaps a menu, perhaps an advertisement for an eye doctor or something. The deck has been expanded and the hours and days of operation also.
They didn't recognize me from long ago; I was told they only serve goat and only tacos, plates or kilos. I got a couple of tacos to go, took just one bite, and started kicking myself for not having been back for so long. These are good tacos, among the very best I've had all year, tender stewed goat seasoned with the chile broth, with cebolla y cilantro, a small side of pico and a fiery, smokey salsa plus of course some lime. There are probably at least 2 or 3 chillies used (guajillo, cascabel, maybe something else?) Some day I will have to do a taste test between these tacos, the borrego from Gerardo's on Patton and the lamb barbacoa from Huarache Azteca Express in Stafford. It'll be close, I bet.
I went back again soon to get a plate. The weather was a bit nippy for me so I got it to go - a 32 oz cup about half full of meats and other pieces of the animal, about half broth. This came with the onions and cilantro added plus the pico and salsa. Tortillas are extra. The 'plate' comes two ways, 'dry' (also known as barbacoa) and 'wet,' also known as consomme. I've always gotten the latter but I presume if you get the former you do get some of the broth - you wouldn't want to miss that. This is snout to tail cookery; depending on what the ladle scoops up from the pot, you'll get interesting little bits and pieces of some of the rest of the animal; sometimes you get very little of the offal.
I always seem to have leftover tortillas from take-out from some taqueria or carniceria so I've never gotten their tortillas but as I recall, the price was $1. My tacos were $2 each, the plate was $8; it was enough for 3 meals for me with tortillas and another side.
I looked back at my notes and saw that back when, the menu offered platos chicas and platos grandes; I don't know which I got this time or maybe they only offer one size now.
They're open 6 days a week now, though still for very limited (and varying) hours. Closed Mondays, they open Tuesday and Wednesday at 4pm and are open into the evening. Other days they open around daybreak and are open until 2pm except Friday and Saturday when they stay open until 10 pm. During the week, or at least when school is in session, you go up to the window to order; other times, the family's children act as servers - you give your order to them and they pass it to the person in the window.
There are frequently other vendors on the deck, selling beverages or cds, etc. On Saturday and Sunday mornings, especially, the tables will be crowded with whole families chowing down on plates of tacos.
Be sure to dress appropriately for the weather.