Crispy. Crunchy. Oozing. Dripping. These are just a few of the words we'd use while waxing on about the sensation that is El Garage's quesabirria.
If you pay attention to food culture in the Bay Area, then you probably know about the quesabirria craze—multiple spots have popped up lately to satisfy our need for griddled, open-faced tortillas layered with melty cheese and tender chunks of beef served with a savory meat "consome" for dipping. But none quite compare to El Garage, the food trend's local OG that got its start back in February 2019 inside one family's Richmond garage.
Operated by sisters Viviana and Evelyn Montano, El Garage's tacos lit up Instagram immediately with their cheesy orange hue and juicy fillings, and soon absurdly long lines followed. It didn't matter that the Montanos didn't have a permit to run a restaurant out of their garage (well, not to hungry eaters anyway): Fast forward one year and the family of guerrilla taco-slingers has opened its first totally legit and fully licensed business.
(Photography by Sarah Chorey)
To ensure the safety of customers and staff, El Garage has set up a plexiglass takeout window and is spacing pickup times at five-minute intervals to discourage crowds outside.
Conveniently located across from the BART station on Macdonald Avenue in Richmond, the new El Garage opened, Covid be damned, this July, and they have a plan in place to supply their famed quesabirria to the socially distanced masses.
Diners must order ahead—the restaurant is taking absolutely no walk-up orders, so don't even think about it—online when reservation slots open at 1pm on Wednesdays. Pickups, spaced at five-minute intervals—are available Friday through Sunday, making El Garage a perfect weekend excursion for San Franciscans. Don't bother showing up early. When your name is called, you can collect your bounty through a plexiglass window. Then comes the fun part.
Indecisive types will do well here since there are basically only two options: quesabirria tacos or plain birria tacos, both sold in threes. The latter comes sans the melted mozzarella cheese; both come with diced raw onions, cilantro, lime, radishes, and two salsas—"kinda spicy" and "hella spicy." Live for hella spicy foods? Add on a free portion of pickled habañero to kick things up a notch.
Your only other pressing decision is whether to go for the consome, a steaming cup of red dipping broth swimming with birria chunks. Do it. In the end, your hands will be running with birria juice and cheesy grease—and you will like it.
// El Garage is open for pickup of advance orders only on Fridays (noon to 3pm and 4pm to 7pm) and Saturdays and Sundays (10am to 3pm and 4pm to 7pm) at 1428 Macdonald Ave. (Richmond); order at elgarage.online.