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South of the Border, Down East Naples Way Part 3: In 3-D

Updated: Mar 21, 2022

With a sope and two tacos digesting comfortable in my belly, the merry band of bloggers headed to our next venue deep in Golden Gate City. I know naming restaurants is incredibly hard. You could fall into the trap of adding two random things together like Wallet and Turtle (thank you Hipster Business Name Generator) or take the easy way out and name your place after yourself, which is kind of boring.

Impressive handwriting, particularly impressed by the ampersand.

Once in a while, however, someone adds their name and something unique about the place their restaurant resides in; Tony's Darts Away in Burbank or Marie's Riptide in Chicago come to mind. So when we pulled up to a converted convenience store at 1938 Santa Barbara Blvd in East Naples that used to be called Zoom-Thru Convenience and was now awesomely named Patria's Zoom-Thru, I knew I was about to be exposed to greatness.

As the sign said, Patria advertises the best birria tacos in town; a bold statement when anyone advertises themselves as the best, but as Dizzy Dean once said "it ain't braggin' if you can do it" so I was willing to give Patria a shot to live up to her billing. The birria taco is a funny thing to me. I lived in Los Angeles for twenty years and probably had tacos at least once a week for those twenty years. Though it was created in Tijuana, just three hours south, I had never even heard of this deliciousness until I moved to Naples last year. Basically, birria is a rich beef stew (though originated with goat) marinating in traditional spices like chili pepper, adobo, onions, etc.

Patria was ready for our arrival with a red salsa, delicious avocado tomatillo green salsa, traditional pico de gallo, and thick as hell tortilla chips that can only be described as voluptuous in comparison to wimpy chips of other unnamed places. I will confess I am not a huge fan of what I find to be boring chunky salsa that you find most places. It just does nothing for me; basically a device to wet your chips while you wait for the good stuff to arrive.


Confession #2 is that I'm not much of a guacamole guy either, though this is because I once got food poisoning in Rosarito, Mexico and had to sit with toxic guac rumbling in my stomach while we waited three hours to cross the border back into the US. This is why I'm no longer allowed in San Ysidro ever again. It's been a hard road back to the green stuff ever since. That being said, Patria's guac was fantastic. Smoother and much more limey than the traditional stuff of which I'd grown gastronomically wary. It was a perfect topping to the Rubenesque tortilla chips, or so I thought.

Then came the ceviche...

fishy delishy

I LOVE ceviche. The fresher the better. If I see fishing line dangling out of that delicious cooked-in-citric acid deliciousness, I'm pretty pretty happy. Now THIS was the perfect topping to the opulent chips. The poor saltines that also usually accompany this dish had no chance once we used the chips as a scoop to shovel as much mango, onions, shrimp and white fish into our mouths.

As we were waiting for the star of the show, Patria's birria pizza, to arrive, our margaritas showed up right one time.

Move over rim salt, Tajin is here and it ain't no joke.

Admittedly, this was a little sweet for me, but the next time you have any tequila drink, make sure you put Tajin on the rim. It's this sour, salty awesomeness that you want to lick off the rim of your glass. It's actually also found in Ranch Water, my drink of choice at Whiskey Park, so thank you to Kesley over there for adding a little spice to my life (*groan* so much *groan*).

Now onto the main event, the birria pizza. I am usually very skeptical of any classic traditional dish that attempts to Americanize itself (or is it Italianize, since it's pizza?)

Patria makes two sizes, the cleverly named small and the equally as cleverly named large. The one pictured below was the small, so I'm assuming the large is delivered by a Ford 150.

10 pounds of meaty, cheesy, deliciousness

Patria's pull

Prior to us digging in Patria insisted on showing us the "pull" which is when you remove a slice from the pie as a whole. (Fun fact: They accomplish this in fast food pizza commercials [ food pizza..] by nailing down the rest of the pie to a piece of wood and then adding glue into the cheese..voila..commercial cheese pull). Despite my concerns about her multicultural take on a class, it was pretty incredible. Before cooking, she marinates the tortilla that she uses for the crust in the consomme that she uses to roast the meat, which gives every bite that incredible savory birria deliciousness.

Once marinated, she piles on two levels of meat with at least one level of cheese in between, tops it with a crust and boom. At least that's what I THINK she told me her method was. My memory is a bit fuzzy, cause, you know, tequila.

Her proper method of serving is pouring more consomme on top, adding in some chopped red onions, cilantro (I'm one of the ones who it doesn't genetically taste like soap to), creme and the avocado green salsa.

My mouth reaction was a pure ...OH...MY. (thank you George Takei). This thing was insanely good, insanely rich. I know, I know, big deal, meat, cheese, bread, delicious, right? My response would be to try this, seriously. Try this. If there was a mouth version of being the first person in space, this would be it (I have no idea what that means, I'm in food lust right now and am not quite thinking straight). There's good and there's this...

Patria, you magnificent (insert vulgar General Patton reference)...This isn't health food, and you may have to install a defibrillator, but damn, if I'm gonna have a coronary, this is one hell of a way to cause it...

To be continued...(no really, only one more part..dessert!)

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