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Very Important Taco: Kairoa Brewing's Spiced Lamb Street Tacos

A Kiwi spin on barbacoa is a bridge between two culinary traditions


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Photo by Camille Marie

A New Zealand–inspired brewery may not be the first place that comes to mind for great tacos, but one bite of Kairoa’s spiced lamb street tacos and you’ll see why we’re cheating on our go-tos. “Our lamb is prepared barbacoa style. The Maori have a meat preparation similar to barbacoa called hangi,” says executive chef Rocio Fleckenstein. “In order to get people in San Diego to understand New Zealand food, I used the barbacoa as a bridge for the two cultures.”

The University Heights hangout serves up a menu of approachable Kiwi fare, like pork sausage rolls and seasonal pies, and of course, those tacos.

Warm corn tortillas are stuffed with generous helpings of smoked lamb shoulder, then topped with spiced yogurt, onion, mint chimichurri, cilantro, and Fresno chiles for an extra kick. And it’s a powerful one, with the tart yogurt and mint chimichurri there to balance out the heat. No extra sauces needed here—the meat is expertly cooked in a flavorful, brothy juice that’ll run down the side of your mouth.

The dish comes as an entrée with three tacos and a side of black beans, or as a happy hour option with two tacos. Either way, you’ll want to enjoy them on Kairoa’s laid-back rooftop deck with a cold Kairoa beer in hand.

4601 Park Boulevard, University Heights kairoabrewingcompany

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