The heart of Birrieria Tijuana's menu is, of course, the birria: beef slow-simmered with spices and chiles until it is so gloriously sloppy and greasy and napkin-eviscerating as to be soporific. This meat is then arranged in various near-interchangeable permutations of griddled corn tortillas and gooey white cheese, running the gamut from tacos to mulitas (meat and cheese sandwiched by tortillas). One of the very best things you can order here is the vampiro, an open-faced taco with a layer of melted cheese and a stratum of shredded beef atop a fried tortilla. (The bloodthirsty name is owing to the tortillas' tendency to furl inward like bat wings as they toast.) If you're lucky, you'll get one where the cheese has crisped up into burnished, lacy, frico-like edges the color of a penny. Similarly, the oozy, crunchy queso tacos are a satisfying showcase for the same flavors. The nectar-like aguas frescas, made with actual fresh fruit in flavors like tamarind and melon, are worthy of note all on their own. Whatever your order may be, it requires a cup of the palliative consommé, a beef soup that arrives mouth-burningly hot in a Styrofoam container, pools of fat shimmering on the surface. People who know what they're doing dip their tacos in this. JULIANNE BELL
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