Birria de Chivo Tacos at Los Temos Taqueria (Salem, OR)


Surrounded by large tracts of farmland on the outskirts of Salem is a small stretch of local shops and businesses. Among them is a taqueria innocuously housed in a flat building, which you might normally drive past since there’s nothing remarkable about the exterior except that it’s painted in the tricolors of Mexico. Los Temos specializes in goat birria (birria de chivo, of Jalisco origin). It would qualify as a birrieria except that there are other things that can be ordered, among them tacos filled with goat meat, asada, adobada, lengua, cabeza and pollo. The goat meat is stewed in a dried chile liquid until it is fork tender, shredded and served either as a combination (with rice and beans), soup (caldo) or taco filling. On top of that, a cup of the birria broth, or consommé, is included with the combination.

These were extraordinary tacos (☆☆☆☆), one of the best I’ve ever eaten. As a bonus, they’re served with house-made corn tortillas. By itself, the goat meat needed no adornment, they were that good. But what are tacos without onions, cilantro and a squirt of lime, generously provided. For ramping up the heat level, you can add crushed red chile peppers, house-made salsa roja or salsa verde, or Tapatio sauce. You can dip the tacos in the consommé, but I just drank it straight from the styro cup. The consommé (☆☆☆☆) is a brilliant elixir, salty, complex, savory and piping hot.

Goat tacos

Goat tacos

Consommé

Consommé

Cilantro, onions and lime

Cilantro, onions and lime

The aguas frescas (☆☆☆) we ordered (tamarind and horchata) were very full-flavored and delicious.

For us, every trip through Salem will now include a stopover here.

Update (5-2-16):

It seems the only time I ever get to eat at Los Temos is during the drive from Seattle to Los Angeles (or back). I was determined to have what most customers seemed to order during our last stopover—caldo, or soup. The consommé is actually the broth in which the goat is simmered, as rich and complex as any in the world. Instead of having the deconstructed soup in the form of either tacos or combination plate with the consommé on the side, the caldo is how the goat is meant to be eaten. It comes with five freshly made corn tortillas that are soft and fluffy. Sprinkled with plenty of cilantro and onions, caldo is now my favorite at Los Temos (☆☆☆☆).

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Los Temos Taqueria
7000 Portland Rd NE
Salem, OR 97305
503.463.6822