Do Army Navy's New Birria Tacos Hit the Spot?

Here's the dish on the up-and-coming...dish.

Army Navy's beef birria tacos
PHOTO BY Patricia Baes ILLUSTRATION Warren Espejo

(SPOT.ph) When you're looking for a bite of good ol' comfort—be it from a thick and beefy burger or a flavor-packed burrito with the works—Army Navy's got your back. It sure doesn't hurt that they've got multiple branches around the country, some of which are open 24 hours a day! They recently introduced a new line of birria tacos and they seem to have caught the Internet's eye, so we thought we'd investigate.

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Here's what we think of Army Navy's take on birria tacos:

Birria What-Now?

You've probably seen them on food-media sites based in the U.S., and to an extent on local social media. Tacos, of course, are nothing new; the birria kind in particular is said to have been around since as far back as the '60s. But it shot to fame in 2020, largely thanks to social media highlighting the fact that it's pretty darn foodporn-worthy.

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Birria itself refers to a flavorful stew of beef—sometimes lamb is also used—with a melange of chilis, aromatics, and spices that give it a flavor profile that's as bold and brazen as it is deep and complex. To turn it into tacos, tortillas are dipped into the stew liquid (a.k.a. consommé ), then stuffed with the shredded stewed meat and other fillings. Sometimes cheese is also added, to make the modern iteration known as quesabirria. The tacos are then pan-fried to a slight crispness and served with the rest of the stew liquid on the side for dipping, similar to how you would a French dip sandwich.

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As you can imagine, it's totally Instagrammable stuff. The tacos themselves as they're served are eyecatching on their own, thanks to the lightly-toasted tacos' yellowish or reddish hue and meaty filling. Then there's the dipping action—which is appealing in its very messy, carnal nature. And that's all before you take a bite and get to witness how the lightly-crisp tortillas make way to flavorful meat (and cheese if applicable), made extra-moist if not wet once dunked into the stew liquid. It can be a messy affair, but in the most delish way possible.

Cool, But How Is Army Navy's Take?

Army Navy's Beef Birria Taco (P315) comes in a simple cardboard box. An order comes with two tacos, the essential stew liquid on the side, a wedge of lime, pickled green chili, and even their signature garlicky white sauce and salsa.

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In a word—erm, make that three words—this is birria tacos lite. The beef filling is shredded and piled on generously, contributing to a tender and juicy bite. It delivers a spiced note that's rather subtle, so the emphasis is still on the hearty taste of the beef. You'll also find chopped onions that contribute a slightly pungent crispness to brighten up the mix, while melted cheese makes for a gooey bite. There's cilantro, too; haters can hate, we say it gives the tacos a very welcome zesty edge.

The consommé, on the other hand, is farely tasty with tanginess and pungency—almost comparable to richer salsa, with a mild dose of spices and a light meaty depth. There are lightly-crisp onions in the mix, which you can munch on for balance.

Army Navy's Beef Birria Tacos comes with the consomme and other accompaniments
Army Navy's Beef Birria Tacos comes with the consomme and other accompaniments.
PHOTO BY Patricia Baes
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While the tacos are great on their own, they also go beautifully with the stew, and a squeeze of the lime helps brighten the mix. For a beef taco in general (with consommé in this case) it's not bad at all; it's just the kind of loosely Tex-Mex ish, somewhat Latin-tasting fare you'd expect to get at Army Navy.

Army Navy's Beef Birria Tacos dip
Don't forget to give your taco a dip! 
PHOTO BY Patricia Baes

Considering this is meant to be birria tacos, we find the flavors to be on the mellow side. We're talking not simply in terms of heat; spicier isn't necessarily better. Neither in intensity; it's seasoned fine, alright. We're talking about the actual depth of flavor that classic birria tacos are known for. Think of the distinctive frutiness and smokiness of guajillo or ancho chilis, the robust yet aromatic edge of toasted and ground whole spices, and so on. Of course, you can always amp up the flavors here with the trimmings you get on the side—aside from the lime we mentioned, a few slices of the green chili also work beautifully with the subtle beef. But we're of the belief that a truly good taco should be able to shine brightly on its own.

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Granted, you don't go to Army Navy because you're after a 100% authentic Mexican experience. That doesn't mean their food isn't good: Army Navy's strength is in delivering comforting, familiar flavors—nothing too far out from the preferences of the Filipino palate. But if you're expecting real-deal, honest-to-goodness birria tacos that'll blow you out of the water, this isn't quite the right place to look.

Here's How to Order

The Birria Tacos are currently only available at selected branches at the moment—including their Jupiter, Glorietta, Valero, WalterMart Makati, Market! Market!, McKinley, Megamall, Emerald Avenue, Greenhills,  Hampton Gardens, Banawe, and UP Technohub stores. If you can't head out, you can also order by giving them a call, finding them on GrabFood, or visiting their website.

See a list of branches that sell Army Navy's Birria Tacos. For delivery orders, call 8333-3131, find Army Navy on GrabFood, or visit Army Navy's delivery website. You can also check out their Facebook page.

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