Looking for the ultimate location to get your birria taco fix in Birmingham? Backyard Tacos is here to save the day! The new food truck, started by Jonathan and Monica Thomas, opened in October and has quickly become one of the city’s favorite places to grab a bite to eat. Their unique take on the birria taco, which is already a rare find in the Magic City, has earned them a loyal fan base. Those looking to try some out soon can follow the business on social media to keep up with their traveling schedule. 

Backyard Tacos would have never existed if it wasn’t for love. Jonathan, who is originally from Gadsden before he moved to Birmingham 12 years ago, met Monica in her then-city of Phoenix, where they quickly became smitten over each other and eventually got married. They decided to move back to Jonathan’s home state, but they brought something back with them from Mountain Standard Time–a burning desire for the birria tacos so popular in the Western states.  

At first, they simply wanted to make some for themselves since they couldn’t find any in Birmingham. “My lovely wife did some research on different recipes on how we could make it,” Jonathan shared on the couple’s quest for birria greatness, “There’s a few that we liked. Some that we liked more than others.” Monica ended up taking a bit from multiple, and adding her own techniques and spices as well. They use a special oil at a crucial dipping process that breaks away from the traditional approach to birria tacos (amongst other secrets). The result wasn’t just good–the Thomases had created next level tastiness. “This is so good we should even try it on the market in Birmingham” was the consensus at the end of the night.

The couple behind Birmingham’s birria taco craze, Monica and Jonathan Thomas. Image by Jonathan Corral

The next step was perfecting their already delicious recipe, which worked out to the advantage of their neighbors who were told to “come by and try the tacos for free. We just wanted feedback.” This fun part of the process is actually where the name “Backyard Tacos” comes from, due to the neighborhood hangout vibe that the company was formed under. “Some actually insisted in paying us,” Monica recollects, but it is their contributions to the perfect birria tacos that these neighbors will be remembered for in the lores of Bimingham taco history.

Backyard Tacos’ first official event was the famous Woodlawn Street Market in October 2021, and Monica and Jonathan had no idea what to expect. They set up around 9am or so, before the event started. “Initially we didn’t get any sales the first hour-and-a-half, two hours,” the couple shared of their first day selling birria tacos, “When twelve o’clock hit–that’s when we started selling. From 12 to 2:30, we sold out.” They would then set up shop at Birmingham District Brewing Company and the night market at Pepper Place (which they gave a shout out to Left Hand Soap Co. for). Both of these events resulted in sell-outs as well, along with great reviews. The nervousness the Thomases had for their company was turning into excitement and expansion.

They are now weekly vendors at Birmingham District Brewing every Sunday for game night, along with the unique Valhalla Board Game Café. Woodlawn Bar & Lounge has also made Backyard Tacos their mainstay for Taco Tuesdays, and they are also routinely found at TrimTab Brewing. They’re excited to already be at a point where local businesses are reaching out through social media to have their taco experience come by. 

They are very thankful to Becca and the team behind the Woodlawn market for helping launch their rapid rise, which led to Backyard Tacos buying the company’s first trailer the day before this interview took place! The couple is also expecting a baby this month, so plenty of exciting growth is happening to start 2022. 

“We have got to the point where we need a trailer, so we really appreciate everyone in Birmingham that has supported us to the point where we are able to buy a trailer and take it to the next level,” the Thomases shared on the upgrade. They originally thought they’d only be selling tacos once a month or so, “but really the customers have asked us to be out more”–and Backyard Tacos ready to deliver. 

Jonathan remembers his first days in Birmingham over a decade ago, saying the options were limited on what you could get to eat. Things are different nowadays. Jonathan and Monica are excited to play a role. “Birmingham’s now become a vibrant kind of city. We’ve added Topgolf. We’ve added the new stadium. They’re bringing the World Games here,” they share on the city’s growth, “New food has come. We’re a part of that new culture that Birmingham is starting.”

We’re thankful that culture includes birrias tacos and people like Jonathan and Monica of Backyard Tacos.

Cover image from South East Sips