Birria Catrina offers takeout. It's located in the cramped food market 214 Augusta, which can get busy on weekends. A mask is mandatory at all times. There's also an outdoor patio at the back of the market with enough space for social distancing.
Birria Catrina is a tiny stall serving up Mexico's most famous stewed meat.
This slow-cooked dish hailing from the state of Jalisco has been gaining popularity across North America, but this 70-square-foot counter marks the first in Toronto to serve it exclusively.
Birria Catrina sits all the way at the back of Kensington's cramped corridor for Latin American eats, 214 Augusta.
Abraham Luna, who co-owns the business with his girlfriend Lluvia Minton, is only 25, but he's been cooking birria since he was 15.
Luna's father has been operating a birria restaurant in Jalisco for over a decade (it's still around), and over the years, Luna has created his own version of a recipe patched together from family techniques.
Flavourful beef birria is the specialty here. While goat is considered a more traditional option, beef tacos are just as readily available in Jalisco, where birria stalls line the street.
Luna and Minton season their beef with spices like cumin and thyme before stewing the meat for around three and a half hours. The fatty layer of the top is skimmed and mixed with the oil they use for frying their tortillas.
The end result is the birria bowl ($15), a hearty stew mixed with cilantro, salt, lots of onion and a splash of tomatillo salsa.
The average temperature in Jalisco is about 30 C, but in the context of Toronto, this bowl could make the ultimate winter soup.
In the taco, birria sits on a double layer of crispy fried tortillas. They're $4 each and come with a small but essential side: the consommé.
My favourite kind of foods come with some kind of dining ritual, and the beauty of birria is the essential act of dunking your taco into its own consommé. You can also get a medium-sized bowl of it for $4.
The quezadilla ($4.70) is essentially the exact same thing as the birria taco, but served with mozzarella cheese as well, as is the Gringa ($6).
Different only in shape is the pizzadilla ($10), a pillowy soft serving of the fried corn tortilla with more birria, cheese, cilantro and onion.