Sterling Heights taqueria Que Pasa is doing awesome things with birria
"Que pasa, amigo!"
That's the friendly greeting customers hear when calling in an order of tacos or picking up a burrito dinner at new Sterling Heights restaurant Taqueria Que Pasa. Of course, it means "what's up, friend" in Spanish. What is up is a huge menu of Mexican favorites, some with a modern twist.
One of the biggest food trends of the past year or so is birria, a Mexican stew from the Jalisco state that has a long history. It grew in popularity last year when birria tacos became a hot item on video app TikTok. Birria is served in Mexican restaurants locally as a traditional platter as well as in tacos and quesadillas; the meat is usually beef and sometimes goat.
The young owners of Que Pasa, husband-and-wife team Indira Zepeda and Gustavo Ruizvelasco, are from Jalisco, so naturally they have birria on the menu. They saw that their hometown dish was popular in California so Zepeda made it for friends for Thanksgiving and it was a huge hit.
"Everybody loved them and they told us you should make these birria tacos, like you should open up a place and sell them," said Ruizvelasco. "We used my wife's ingredients to open up Que Pasa Taqueria."
They serve birria tacos with a side of flavorful consommé for dipping, but Que Pasa is also gaining a buzz for their huge birria pizzadilla, a cross between a quesadilla and a Mexican pizza. It's two huge tortillas stuffed with beef birria (or your choice of other meat), cheese, onions and cilantro.
It's served in a pizza box with consommé and several lime wedges. I would say it's definitely more quesadilla than pizza, but it is shareable and cut into slices like a big pizza.
They also highlight their homeland dish is with the birria noodles, which is the consommé created from making birria and Japanese ramen noodles. Ruizvelasco said they tried out a few different styles of ramen until they got one that best soaked up the birria flavors.
Another fun offering at Que Pasa are the birthday tacos, which is 40-50 tacos laid out on a tray in the shape of numbers, which is perfect for a taco party platter if you're at least in the double digits.
The new restaurateurs say they are excited to be serving the Sterling Heights area and are grateful to have gotten a good response from customers and some love from local foodies on social media.
"I love it here, the people are really nice. Every time they come through the door we yell out 'que pasa, amigo' and you see a big smile on their face," said Ruizvelasco. He says he and his wife — who are 25 and 23, respectively — wanted to open a restaurant that was a little more modern than the others you see around town. "We're young entrepreneurs and we are trying to bring a little sazón from Jalisco."
Que Pasa Taqueria, 33874 Dequindre in Sterling Heights, is open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Tues.-Fri., noon-10 p.m. Sat. and noon-8 p.m. Sun. Carryout can be ordered online or via phone and there are a few seats available for dining in. Call (586) 693-5045 or visit taqueriaquepasa.com.