CHALIO MEXICAN RESTAURANT
AN EAST LA FAVE FOR ‘BIRRIA’ (GOAT STEW)
Fans of birria (goat stew) in East LA know the name Chalio. While Chalio Mexican Restaurant on S. Atlantic Boulevard is popular for birria and then some, the tradition goes back years ago when restaurant owner Raul Luis’ parents opened up their birria shop.
The family’s birria recipe is a tradition passed down from father to son, but it was Luis’ mother who came up with the idea to sell birria, first from home, then at the family owned restaurant, which only sold birria. Now the family has opened other small birria shops, as well as Bad Azz Burrito in Fort Worth, Texas, but it’s at Chalio Mexican Restaurant where a whole slew of tasty Mexican fare can be found.
During our recent visit for a lazy weekend afternoon lunch, we started with a nice, cold Michelada, a fantastic mix of Mexican beer, tomato juice, lime and spices. There really isn’t a better way to start a lazy afternoon, especially when it’s paired with a bowl of handmade chips and spicy salsa.
As a sharable starter item, we went with the Mini Sope with nopal (cactus), beans and cheese. Sopes are traditional Mexican dish made from a circle of fried masa topped with refried black beans and crumbled cheese, lettuce, onions, and salsa. This is a hearty appetizer and a great non-meat option. But if you want your meat fix, you can get your sope topped with chicken, beef, or carnitas. We also tried the beef and it was delicious.
Next we tried the Tacos Dorado be Birria—fried tacos served with onions and red sauce. This is a hearty and delicious treat, and the goat meat is so very tender. The birria here is actually served seven ways, from no bones to a variety of ways with different amount of bones. The Masisa is boneless meat, while the Pistola comes with a large bone with nerve meat.
Another house specialty is the Camarones A La Diabla, which is tender shrimp served in the spiciest sauce I’ve ever tried. The fieriness of the “devil” sauce is no joke. Try and finish it all on a dare—I dare you. It might be easier if you add a mound of rice, otherwise you’ll want to be very careful.
Something else you won’t find to many places is the Vaportini—think crack pipe where you inhale tequila vapors. Actually, because of the restaurant’s liquor license, you’re not actually inhaling full blown tequila but agave “tequila”. I don’t think I actually got a buzz from inhaling the vapors. While it’s an odd sensation, it’s fun for novelty sake. I think you’re better off with a Michelada, some birria and maybe a cold beer to wash it down.
Chalio Mexican Restaurant is located at 760 S. Atlantic Blvd inEast Los Angeles. Open daily, Mon-Thurs 8am to 9pm; Fri 8am to 10pm; Sat & Sun 7am to 10pm. Call (323) 262-3456.
Story by: Jose Martinez