Two months ago, I recommended you try the birria tacos at Bombón in north Sarasota. If you find yourself up Bradenton way, you now have another place to hit up: The Spot Tacos & More, which opened in 2019 and began serving birria tacos in 2020.
(To recap: Quesabirria or birria tacos are made by dipping corn tortillas in broth, then cooking them on a flattop until they grow toasted and crispy. Typical fillings include meat (most often beef), cheese, diced onion and cilantro. The tacos are often served with a consommé for dipping.)
The Spot is attached to Robin's Apartments, near the Red Barn Flea Market, where Spot owner Laura Betancourt had previously built up a sizable clientele with her outdoor food, juice and smoothie stand. Running the outdoor business proved challenging on hot or rainy days, which inspired Betancourt to open a brick-and-mortar business.
But the process of opening in the Robin's Apartment space took two years, which left Betancourt's existing customers confused about where to find her food. Betancourt says The Spot's first months in business were a struggle. "The sales were there, but not like I thought it was going to be," she says.
And then the pandemic hit. After closing for a month, The Spot reopened gradually. Today, it's only open four days a week, Thursday through Sunday, but takeout sales have been strong. In addition to tacos, the menu includes favorites like burritos, quesadillas, tostadas, sopes, gorditas, tortas and flautas that can be made with chicken, beef or pork prepared in multiple ways.
The restaurant is bright and inviting. The exterior is decorated with a mural of Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata, with the quote, "I want to die a slave to principles... Not to men," emblazoned next to him. Inside, you'll find another portrait of Zapata, plus images of other Mexican luminaries like Frida Kahlo, singer José Alfredo Jiménez and actor and comedian Cantinflas.
Betancourt was born in Florida but grew up mostly in California, where the birria taco trend first exploded. After customers began asking her if the restaurant sold birria tacos, she traveled to California and asked relatives to take her to the best birria taco spots. After returning, she developed her own recipe, and, last August, added them to the menu.
At first, The Spot only offered them on Fridays and Saturdays, but they proved so popular that The Spot began making them every day the restaurant is open. For $10, you can order three birria tacos plus a small bowl of consommé, or four birria tacos, without the dipping broth.
Both make for an exceptional meal. The tacos are stuffed with juicy, just-about-to-fall-apart braised beef and are cooked until they achieve the wonderful orange-red glow specific to birria tacos.
Betancourt credits their quality to the fact that she uses beef cheeks instead of less expensive cuts, and makes fresh tortillas daily. "We don't like to cut corners," she says. "Do it right, or don't do it."
The Spot Tacos & More is located at 2303 First St., Bradenton, and is open 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Thursday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. For more info, call (941) 741-2011 or visit the restaurant's website.