Popularity can be a double-edged sword. Take the case of El Garage, the Richmond-based taco pop-up that specializes in quesabirria, the cheesy, Tijuana-style beef birria tacos that have taken the Bay Area by storm this past year. It’s 25,000 followers strong on Instagram, was named Eater SF’s pop-up of the year, and, even before all of the added attention, routinely drew lines that wrapped around the block — which means that customers are now sometimes waiting as long as two or three hours to get their quesabirria fix.
While El Garage’s legion of fans wait for its highly anticipated restaurant in Richmond to open — hopefully by the end of March — the good news is that the pop-up will soon have a new venue for customers on the other side of the Bay: El Garage will be part of food truck market organizer Off the Grid’s new lineup at two of its largest, most popular weekly San Francisco events: Fridays at Fort Mason and Sundays at Presidio Picnic.
Co-owner Viviana Montano tells Eater SF that El Garage won’t be at Off the Grid when the event kicks off its new season at Fort Mason on March 6, but that the pop-up could join the lineup — alternating between the two locations from week to week — as early as April, once its restaurant location passes its health inspection. (They would need to cook the birria — the stewed beef that goes on the tacos — at the restaurant ahead of time, Montano explains.)
And El Garage won’t be the only quesabirria maker in Off the Grid’s roster of street food vendors. At the Fort Mason location, for instance, it will be joined by Antioch-based OG Tacos, another of the quesabirria specialists highlighted in Eater SF’s feature on the cheesy dipped tacos this past fall.
As for the El Garage restaurant, which will be located at a former pizzeria at 1428 Macdonald Avenue, near the Richmond BART station, Montana says she and her family are wrapping up their final stages of fundraising. Right now, the 5,000-square-foot restaurant is essentially an empty shell, she says. But she’s hopeful that a loan they’ve applied for will close next week, and she’s planning to start a GoFundMe campaign in order to secure the last $25,000 or so they need for furniture and minor repairs.
If all goes according to plan, the restaurant will open in late March or April — and maybe then, when the quesabirria isn’t quite as scarce, the lines will finally shrink to a more manageable length.