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From National City to 664 TJ Birrieria

Fast growing local birria chain stretches from here to Vegas

A quesabirria taco (left, with cheese) and regular, birria taco (right)
A quesabirria taco (left, with cheese) and regular, birria taco (right)

Tender shredded beef birria, swimming in reddish brown broth that leaves an orange ring ‘round the edges of the Styrofoam cup containing it. That’s the Tijuana-style specialty of National City’s 664 TJ Birrieria.

Place

664 TJ Birrieria National City

505 Highland Avenue, National City

Place

664 TJ Birrieria Barrio Logan

1794 Newton Avenue, San Diego

But it’s not just National City’s anymore. Over the past three years, the small South Bay birria shop has multiplied, expanding to locations in Barrio Logan, Chula Vista, Palm City, Logan Heights, City Heights, and all the way out on the Las Vegas Strip.

It can be fun to imagine midwestern tourists who cruise the Strip trying to pronounce birrieria. Such customers may not immediately recognize that TJ means Tijuana, nor that 664 refers to the Tijuana area code. But maybe, if they get as far as pronouncing it “beery area,” they’ll make the association with San Diego.

A half order tub of beef birria

Not that I can say it much better. I valiantly try but fail to trill those Rs as I place my half order of the shredded beef stew ($7.50; large goes for $11). But however you pronounce birria, there’s little question it lands warm in your belly, making it an ideal take-out order in cool weather.

I paid a lunchtime visit to the Barrio Logan location (1794 Newton Avenue, Barrio Logan), and found I wasn’t alone in thinking so. Health care and manufacturing workers in the immediate vicinity bee-lined for the place. People getting out of cars picked up large orders of the beefy stew, along with stacks of corn tortillas with a distinctive orange hue, having been dipped in the beef consommé.

The Barrio Logan location of 664 TJ Birrieria

It’s easy enough to take it all home and use the included fixin's (diced onion, cilantro, and radishes) to roll the beef shreds into tacos. One of the best parts of 664 TJ is the excellent, slightly roasty red salsa. Though I add this generously to any taco, quesadilla, or tostada, I still want to dip everything back into that thick reddish broth. I’m bound to make a sloppy, savory mess, but it’s always going to taste better that way.

That’s why I recommend ordering a Styrofoam cup of birria, or at least consommé, even though the 664 TJ shops do offer the aforementioned tacos ($2.25), quesadilla ($2.80, with corn tortillas), etc. They serve quesabirria tacos (with melted cheese added, $3.50) and madrazos ($4.50), which are flour tortilla quesadillas with some of the shredded birria beef pressed within.

The madrazo – like a flour tortilla quesadilla with beef birria inside

Though these are terrific, and though I will gladly pay extra to add cheese to most cheese-optional dishes in this world, birria doesn’t really need it. And while 664 TJ’s birria isn’t the most flavorful in town (I see you, Tuetano Taqueria), when you add that 664 salsa, it’s tough to go wrong.

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A quesabirria taco (left, with cheese) and regular, birria taco (right)
A quesabirria taco (left, with cheese) and regular, birria taco (right)

Tender shredded beef birria, swimming in reddish brown broth that leaves an orange ring ‘round the edges of the Styrofoam cup containing it. That’s the Tijuana-style specialty of National City’s 664 TJ Birrieria.

Place

664 TJ Birrieria National City

505 Highland Avenue, National City

Place

664 TJ Birrieria Barrio Logan

1794 Newton Avenue, San Diego

But it’s not just National City’s anymore. Over the past three years, the small South Bay birria shop has multiplied, expanding to locations in Barrio Logan, Chula Vista, Palm City, Logan Heights, City Heights, and all the way out on the Las Vegas Strip.

It can be fun to imagine midwestern tourists who cruise the Strip trying to pronounce birrieria. Such customers may not immediately recognize that TJ means Tijuana, nor that 664 refers to the Tijuana area code. But maybe, if they get as far as pronouncing it “beery area,” they’ll make the association with San Diego.

A half order tub of beef birria

Not that I can say it much better. I valiantly try but fail to trill those Rs as I place my half order of the shredded beef stew ($7.50; large goes for $11). But however you pronounce birria, there’s little question it lands warm in your belly, making it an ideal take-out order in cool weather.

I paid a lunchtime visit to the Barrio Logan location (1794 Newton Avenue, Barrio Logan), and found I wasn’t alone in thinking so. Health care and manufacturing workers in the immediate vicinity bee-lined for the place. People getting out of cars picked up large orders of the beefy stew, along with stacks of corn tortillas with a distinctive orange hue, having been dipped in the beef consommé.

The Barrio Logan location of 664 TJ Birrieria

It’s easy enough to take it all home and use the included fixin's (diced onion, cilantro, and radishes) to roll the beef shreds into tacos. One of the best parts of 664 TJ is the excellent, slightly roasty red salsa. Though I add this generously to any taco, quesadilla, or tostada, I still want to dip everything back into that thick reddish broth. I’m bound to make a sloppy, savory mess, but it’s always going to taste better that way.

That’s why I recommend ordering a Styrofoam cup of birria, or at least consommé, even though the 664 TJ shops do offer the aforementioned tacos ($2.25), quesadilla ($2.80, with corn tortillas), etc. They serve quesabirria tacos (with melted cheese added, $3.50) and madrazos ($4.50), which are flour tortilla quesadillas with some of the shredded birria beef pressed within.

The madrazo – like a flour tortilla quesadilla with beef birria inside

Though these are terrific, and though I will gladly pay extra to add cheese to most cheese-optional dishes in this world, birria doesn’t really need it. And while 664 TJ’s birria isn’t the most flavorful in town (I see you, Tuetano Taqueria), when you add that 664 salsa, it’s tough to go wrong.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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