A beloved Mexican stew has gone viral. But the dish is far more diverse than TikTok can capture.

Birria, a cherished Mexican stew typically made of meat braised with chiles and spices, has become an Internet sensation. For some restaurateurs, this has opened the gates to a flood of business during the pandemic. On the flip side, it’s also created a stunted public understanding about what birria can be. If Instagram is your only clue, you might mistakenly believe that birria comes only in the form of a cheesy, fried taco. But the possibilities of birria are actually much wider. Even across Los Angeles, the dish can be found in countless variations—born from different source regions, traditions, and circumstance. It’s a whole world to discover if you can make it past some of the algorithm-driven novelties. Tejal Rao has the story.

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