When I’m really busy, I function on overdrive, which means sometimes I’m early for things. I was one week early for a mole collaboration dinner at Birrieria Zaragoza. Norma, mother of chef Jonathan, asked me to stay. I said I didn’t really like goat. The only item they carry is birria tatemada which is oven-roasted goat.
Norma insisted I try a sample and said I would change my mind about not liking goat. I stood and waited but she said to sit down.
I was expecting a sample-sized bite in a small, plastic cup but instead had a one-hour, sit-down dinner (with sweet Norma) hearing stories of the restaurant and guests who have stopped in, sprinkled with beaming mentions of her son and other family members. All of that came with a roasted goat dish that changed my mind.
The recipe was perfected over the course of a few years before her husband, Juan, opened Birrieria Zaragoza. Norma said their goat isn’t gamey or tough because they are about five months old, sourced from a farm in Woodstock, IL. The meat is steamed for about six hours, marinated in a red mole and then roasted. First, you select small or large, then bone-in or boneless. Finally, you choose to have it as a stew or plated with tomato consommé and their tortillas.
Later, Norma showed me how they make their tortillas in-house every day. If you make it to the end of my video, you’ll see a special treat Mexican grandmothers might give to antsy children while cooking.
Who can resist this place?
Birriera Zagaroza is a family-run restaurant, opened by Juan Zaragoza in 2007. Before he opened, he was hosting barbecues in his backyard until he perfected his recipe. Juan and Norma’s son, Jonathan, is the weekday chef. They are open seven days a week, for lunch and dinner.
Chef: Jonathan Zaragoza
Tips: Their house-made hot sauce, Picante el Chivo, is available for sale. Some restaurants have bought it by the case. It’s that good.
Birriera Zaragoza | 4852 S Pulaski Rd, Chicago IL | 773 523 3700