Different Styles of Cabrito In Mexico

Cabrito al Pastor - The "Shepherd-style" Meat Fit For A King and Queen

To me, there is no finer dish than a properly-prepared goat on a spit. I will drive hundreds of miles out of my way to try a newly discovered cabrito al pastor restaurant. While some will swear that the "best" cabrito comes from Monterrey, they just don't know the whole country. The best-known cabrito is sold in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, but many states have better cabrito. It's a personal thing. I don't diss one restaurant's cabrito, I just have my favorites. Wherever you can find it, cabrito is a treat.

Warning - you may not be able to find cabrito in any form in the late Fall (Oct-Nov) in many places. Saltillo always seems to have it, as does Monterrey, but in other parts, it is spotty.

But there are different ways to cook your goat, just as there are different ways to get it.

Different ways to cook cabrito

For a gallery of cabrito being cooked, click here for cabrito pictures. It will open in a new window so you can keep reading. My favorite Mexican food is cabrito al pastor, or young goat, roasted on a spit over open coals (often from mesquite wood). Surprisingly, cabrito al pastor does not have a smoky flavor. Cabrito al pastor is cooked for 6 hours and is turned every 15-20 minutes. No seasoning is added.

Do not be gulled by places, both in the USA and Mexico that just advertise cabrito. There are various forms of cabrito, not all of which might tickle your fancy. The main forms of cabrito are: al horno (oven baked) , en birria (stew), en salsa (in sauce). The ones least likely to appeal to most people are cabrito en sangre (blood) and machito (it's complicated). Machito probably tops en sangre for least appetizing, but it is that taste thing again. Some compare machito to haggis. I have never had haggis, but machito is the innards of a goat (heat, lung, kidneys etc.) wrapped in the ever appealing tela or visceral lining and tied together with a bit of tripa (small intestine) to make a pretty package. I like odd foods, but that is even odder than I am. It is probably supposed to be an aphrodisiac, if you could find anyone who would kiss you after you ate that.

Most people think the best cabrito in Mexico comes from Monterrey, Nuevo Leon. I beg to differ. I think there is good cabrito in many places. Most people just don't know to look elsewhere.

I have eaten hundreds of portions of cabrito al pastor in my life, all over Mexico. I used to rate cabrito restaurants as being "the best." That was fruitless. "Best" is a matter of personal taste. So now I just say that these are among the best I have had. There are no doubt other cabrito restaurants I have not tried yet. But I will!

Here are some of my favorite restaurants for cabrito al pastor. They are all good and each cabrito restaurant is a little bit different. The owner of El Meson del Cabrito in Saltillo, Coahuila, told me in an interview that the cooking method is pretty much the same no matter where you eat cabrito. What makes the different tastes is where the goats were raised and what they ate. I happen to like his cabrito al pastor above El Rey in Monterrey, but that is my opinion. Go there and see for yourself.

For a photo gallery of cabrito kitchens and restaurants, click here.

Some of my favorite restaurants for cabrito al pastor are:

Saltillo, Coahuila - El Mesón Principal on Hwy 40 just before the interchange coming into town on the right. It is across from the big shopping center. Their web site is great. They have more variety to their menu than most cabrito restaurants. They serve steak (most all do) but also dishes regional to Coahuila and alta cocina (haute cuisine) and international dishes. So a non-goat lover (that does not sound right) will be happy there, though vegetarians will find something to eat, just not a lot of choices. El Mesón Principal has been around for more than 50 years. Blvd V. Carranza y Ave. Egipto, Col. Virreyes Residencial C.P. 25230 Saltillo, Coah., Mexico, Tel.: (844) 415 00 15 y 415 34 21. They often have specials on Sundays. Free Wifi at tables.

There is supposed to be a more humble, less expensive restaurant near the bus station, El Chivero, but I have not been there yet.

San Luis Potosi, SLP - La Estrella de Dimas, south of the old bypass of San Luis Potosi on Hwy 57 and north of the new one. Alas, La Estrella de Dimas, San Luis Potosi times are tough now. They close at 5 PM. I was unable to eat there the last time through. I was really bummed out.

Directions to La Estrella de Dimas from my road log

74.0 – Come to South end of bypass. Turn LEFT onto MEX-57 - UNLESS going to La Estrella de Dimas (turn right).

There is an excellent cabrito restaurant, La Estrella de Dimas back towards town, 4 miles. Cabrito is young goat grilled on a spit over open coals for 6 hours. The restaurant is on the right, just before an intersection with Eje 126. Exit at Eje 130 to lateral. (http://www.mexcon.net/dimas.htm). Address is Carretera Querétaro – San Luis Potosi, KM 8 (or Av. Benito Juarez #192). Phone is 444-824-1914. After it, you will pass a hotel on your right (Hotel 88) that is medium-priced.  If you see a Ford dealer, you have gone 2.2 miles too far. You will have to turn around and come back.

Be careful because there is another restaurant farther towards town also named La Estrella de Dimas and it is a buffet with no cabrito.

END ROAD LOG

El Mezquital Matehuala

Matehuala, San Luis Potosi - El Mezquital, on the north end of town, beyond the Wal-Mart and the Hotel Las Palmas on the opposite side of the highway. There are two cabrito restaurants in this wayside village. The one on the south side has never seemed as good or as friendly as the Mezquital. Both are about the same price. The other is El Chivero and frankly, I have had some old goat there. They also have one north of town several miles, that i have not tried. The bad experiences on the south deterred me. El Mezquital is also open for breakfast, though you won't get cabrito in the morning.

Hidalgo del Parral, Durango - It has been many years since I ate at a cabrito restaurant on the periferico around town. IT may be gone, but by golly, if you go to Hidalgo, look for it. It was so good that I ate two portions and took a third back to my hotel for breakfast. A client wrote me recently and said the place was still open, though he could not remember the name either.

Durango, Durango - Yep there is a cabrito restaurant here. Nope, I do not remember the name, but it is not downtown, but just across from the Hotel Mexico. They were out in October when I was there, so my notebook is tear-stained and the address is illegible.

Monterrey, Nuevo Leon - El Rey de Cabrito downtown (817 Constitución Ote) is famous all over Mexico. However, some say it is overpriced and only mediocre. There was one called El As de Cabrito that was supposed to be better, and cheaper. "As" is Ace in Spanish, so the owner was saying subltly that his restaurant trumped the "Rey" which is only a kind. Alas, el As closed. Still around is El Gran Pastor. Av. Gonzalitos 702 Sur and Av. Miguel Aleman 6064. El Regio, Gonzalitos y Insurgentes is pretty good. There is a chain called Los Cabriteros with several locations that I do not know, but would love to hear about

Acapulco, Guerrero - Restaurante Cabrito on the Costera, away from town from the Convention Center. It was surprisingly good and founded by Regiomontaños (people from Monterrey).

Cabrito is practically fat-free and has about the same calories as chicken per serving.

3oz. Roasted
Calories
Fat (g)
Saturated Fat (g)
Protein (g)
Iron (g)

Goat (1)

122

2.58

.79

23

3.2

Beef (2)

245

16

6.8

23

2.2

Pork (2)

310

24

8.7

21

2.7

Lamb

235

16

7.3

22

1.4

Chicken (2)

120

3.5

1.1

21

1.5

Source: 1 USDA Handbook #8 1989 2 Nutritive Value of Foods, Home & Garden Bulletin Number 72, USDA, Washington,D.C. Government Printing Office 1981