When Margarita Martinez moved to Wichita from Indiana to be close to her son, she was surprised to find that the dining scene was absent one of her favorite foods.
Goat is the main ingredient in the birria style of cooking, which is native to Jalisco, Mexico. It’s common and popular in Chicago and in Indiana.
But when Martinez asked her son where she could find a birrieria – a restaurant that specializes in goat stew and tacos – in Wichita, he told her she couldn’t.
“He said, ‘Mom, they don’t serve that anywhere here. Seriously, mom, not in Wichita,’” she said.
So Martinez teamed up with her son, Andrew Simon, and friend, Charlie Edris, to open Birrieria Ocotlan, which serves birria-style cooking. The restaurant opened last summer at 124 E. 21st St. N., which is just west of the NoMar International Market area.
The menu includes two styles of goat – the more traditional preparation made with adobe sauce, which is put into tacos and into birria, the goat stew; or country style, which takes the meat straight from the pot to the taco.
Goat can be gamey if it’s not cooked correctly, Martinez said, but she worked in a birrieria in Indiana and learned the secrets, she said. The meat is tender, like carnitas, and the flavor is most comparable to venison or lamb, she said.
People who haven’t had goat are sometimes unsure whether they want to try it, Martinez said, so she always offers samples. Most people who try it decide they like it, she said.
Those who don’t have other, more conventional choices at the restaurant. Martinez also serves carne asada and al pastor tacos, plus pozole, a pork stew made with hominy. For traditionalists, she also has menudo, tongue (lengua) and lip (labio) tacos. The menu also has tamales, gorditas, tortas and homemade Mexican waters.
Those who order soup get a Crust & Crumb Co. bolillo roll on the side.
I learned about Birrieria Ocotlan reading Crust & Crumb’s Facebook page. Owner Sharon Entz, who has lived in Mexico, is a big fan of birria and said that Martinez does it right.
The restaurant’s hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. For more information, call 316-831-9380.