Best of 2000: Best Birrieria (Goat Restaurant)

El Rincón del Oso
Location 47, Mercado Hidalgo,
Calle Victoria, Zona Rio, Tijuana

When you eat goat, you want flavor! That means wild goat, if possible. The ones who have been free to roam and nibble everything. Tree bark and leaves and grass. Not just farm-fed food pellets. That's why you come here, to what locals say is the best birrieria -- goat restaurant -- in Tijuana. You have to get over the rows of skinned goat heads hanging in nearby butchers' shops. They're for taking home, boiling up, making soup with. But the smells inside "The Corner of the Bear" will make you forget that. Order goat ribs (around $4.50). You'll be surprised how small they are. But also how much flavor they pack. Take spoonfuls of the liquids it comes in to round out the gamey taste. Wrap some of the meat into a hot corn tortilla, ladle juices in, add cilantro, lime, grated onions, and a splash of salsa. Slightly rich, like deer or buffalo. Great with cerveza. Red tables and long benches spread in rows beneath a giant green mural of a hacienda set in a green valley. Men (mostly) eat away, their hats dipping over the tables. Ladies in white pat corn tortillas into shape. A goat's head stares down from the wall.

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