4 December, 2022, 01:10

Vegan Quesabirria: 5 Meat-free taco-dipping experiences in Tucson

Ver la versión en inglés aquí.

What happens if you blend the richly flavored and traditional Mexican birria with the creative and scrumptious way of cooking from the Baja, specifically Tijuana? You get the exquisite quesabirria.

A contemporary delicacy to the foodie world, the quesabirria has become an Instagramable gem and an absolute social media sensation. Featuring layers of cheese, birria, and fresh veggies, the quesabirria is usually enjoyed by itself or by dipping into a flavorful broth.

Vegan Quesabirria from Taqueria La Esquina

Vegan Quesabirria from Taqueria La Esquina (Photo by Xochitl Gracia)

As their popularity began to rise, plant-based eaters were as eager to try quesabirria as any other foodie. In town, every plant-based foodie patiently waited to see which restaurant was going to bring the famous dish to existence. And then, some amazing local restaurants delivered, and they did it amazingly.

Fortunately, Tucson has been blessed with vegan quesabirria options in what seems all cardinal directions. So of course, I made sure to ask local chefs and owners what inspired them to add a vegan version of this famous dish to their menu.

Charro Vida

7109 N. Oracle Rd.

They saw an opportunity to combine convenience and the delivery of a delicious dish to their customers.

“We thought a lot about the items that we wanted to put on the Charro Vida menu as we headed into the COVID shutdowns,” said Ray Flores of Si Charro! Restaurants. “We knew we needed to have items that were good for our customers to take out and a lot of people were talking about quesabirria tacos. So, we developed the plant-based version using jackfruit, vegan cheese, and our delicious achiote and clove spiced consommé for dipping and grilling. They’re now some of our biggest sellers.”

For more information, visit charrovida.com


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Taco Stop

10290 E. Speedway Blvd.

Achieving the perfect balance of quality ingredients while delivering what customers are currently craving is not always easy.

“Quesabirrias are popular at the moment, so I thought why not add them to our menu,” said Joselyn Gamez, owner of Taco Stop. “Our menu is 50% vegan so I thought to myself I need to come up with a vegan version. September 2021, our quesabirria made its debut. Good cheese is the most important part so it wasn’t easy to find ingredients that work and are 100% vegan friendly. We played around a bit, and figured it out.”

For more information, follow Taco Stop on Instagram.  


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Del Cielo Tamales

3073 N. Campbell Ave.

Dear to their roots and heart, Del Cielo’s inspiration was born many years ago.

“It is my family tradition — preparing birria since I was born in Sinaloa,” said Herminia Serino, owner of Del Cielo Tamales. “I grew up seeing this like a lifestyle. One of my first jobs was in a birrieria from my uncle in Sinaloa. When I was 10 years old I was the dishwasher and actually helped with the horno (oven) underground to cook it every afternoon.”

For more information, visit delcielotamales.com


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Ensenada Street Food

1602 S. Park Ave.

For the ladies at Ensenada, it was all about being inclusive.

“Honestly, when people take their families to eat, they usually feel limited in their options,” said Malena Alvarez of Ensenada Street Food. “A lot of people started asking us if we had meatless options that were not just a quesadilla. I decided to add vegan quesabirria and other vegan options for everyone to feel included. I searched for recipes and ingredients until we settled for a recipe that tasted as similar as possible to our regular options; vegan but full of flavor. Now, families or groups of friends come and everyone has the option of enjoying good tacos equally.”

For more information, follow Ensenada Street Food on Instagram


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Taqueria La Esquina

4876 S. Sixth Ave.

At this picturesque taqueria, the inspiration behind adding vegan quesabirria was to bring an option for everyone to try the “iconic taco.”

“I think no matter what dietary choices or restrictions someone has, they shouldn’t have to miss out on one of the best tacos ever,” said Alejandro Bohon, chef and co-owner of Taqueria La Esquina.

For more information, visit taquerialaesquinatucson.com


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So, whether you’re trying to get quesabirria nearby or would like to cruise to an unfamiliar side of town, make sure to show love to these local restaurants. They’ve added their own vegan rendition so we can all enjoy a good taco-dipping experience.

If you’re local or visit Tucson frequently, make sure to follow my Instagram page, in which I share my vegan/plant-based lifestyle always focusing on local food (@tucson-vegan).