Where It All Began
The Zaragoza family settled in Pilsen when they moved from Jalisco, Mexico, but Juan's father made sure the family's ties to home were strong. On trips back, the family's first stop was Birrieria Miguel and it was there Juan found his passion for Birria. Juan's father formally introduced him to Miguel Segura, and on a subsequent visit he spent two weeks studying under the birriero master.
After a career in customer service, Juan decided he wanted to bring a bit of La Barca to Chicago. In 2007, he sold his house and rented out a five-table storefront in Archer Heights and opened for business as a restaurant.
In His Own Style
Juan Zaragoza adds in his own ancho-based mole to the birria once it has steamed. His hometown La Barca is known for its birria tatemada, a term that comes from the verb tatemar, "to toast" or "to char." He uses this method as a finishing touch.
When fully cooked, the meat is portioned and served either added to a consomme made with the drippings or seca ("dry"), with the consomme on the side. Unlike most birrieros, he makes his consomme, which is tomato-based, without drippings from the meat giving it a clean, smooth flavor.