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Dish of the Month: The Franklin Inn’s Beef Birria Tacos

My uncle and aunt, John and Wendy Cibula, have owned the Franklin Inn since 2000, when they took it over my grandparents, who purchased it in 1978. While many of the core menu items have stayed the same, such as the Frisco enchiladas and the homemade grilled chorizo, they’ve added a plethora of new dishes, such as street tacos and chipotle mushroom enchiladas. My aunt is vegan, so the Franklin Inn also has a variety of tasty vegan options, like the black bean memelas, and the jefa salad.

The Franklin Inn has a team of cooks who create inventive weekly specials based on what’s fresh and in season. A recent special that sold out quickly was the mango habanero pork ribs. Many regulars (including me), begged my uncle to add the beef birria tacos to their menu full-time. The nagging paid off and now the beef birria tacos are no longer just a special.

Birria tacos hail from the Mexican state of Jalisco. They are traditionally beef or goat (the Franklin Inn uses beef) and the meat is marinated in an adobo sauce made of vinegar, dried chilies, garlic, and herbs and spices, before being slow-cooked in a savory broth.

The Franklin Inn serves their beef birria tacos on chili oil brushed white corn tortillas, so those who are gluten-free can still partake. The chili oil adds a hint of spice, while also making the tortillas slightly crispy. The tortillas are topped with melted cheddar jack cheese, which adds to the medley of textures present in these tacos.

The star of the show is the shredded beef. It’s cooked for hours in a variety of spices (the Franklin Inn will never give away their secret blend), which makes it tender and flavorful. The consommé the beef is cooked in is served alongside the tacos for dipping, which enhances the flavors of the meat.

The tacos are topped with cilantro, onions, and a lime wedge, which is traditional and adds some freshness to the heavy dish. The Franklin Inn serves an avocado tomatillo salsa on the side, which is untraditional, but it adds both brightness and creaminess to the tacos that complements all of the flavors and textures present.

The Franklin Inn offers a variety of sides that make the perfect accompaniment to the birria tacos. My favorites are the chilled black bean and corn salad and the seasoned rice.

If you’re like my aunt and are abstaining from eating meat, the restaurant also has jamaica birria tacos on their menu. Instead of beef, hibiscus flowers are simmered in a rich vegetable chili broth with carrots and onions. The tacos are topped with a sunflower vegan crema, as well as the avocado tomatillo salsa.

I am slightly biased, as I’ve been eating at the Franklin Inn since I was old enough to double fist tacos, but the quality of both their specials and regular menu items will impress everyone.

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