Houston man sells birria tacos to help pay parents' medical bills

A local man has found a creative way to help his parents pay expensive medical bills. He already had a job he loves but found a side job that is making a world of difference for his parents.

He's making and selling special tacos, well known in Mexico, called birria tacos. Now Houstonians are benefiting from his side gig.


Luis Ibarwen spent several years perfecting his recipe for birria tacos. Then, he rolled them out in Houston at an opportune time for his family, while struggling with the diagnosis of his mom's disease.

"It was one of those things that at the time I found myself struggling with the diagnosis and you know, 1,000,001 questions about how are we going to proceed with this? It turned out that she had stage two colon cancer and so she was really in a bad position. She was struggling financially, so was I, and so there was a lot of 'what if's' up in the air and I know she needed financial help. So, she asked me, what can we do?  I told her I have this recipe for birria tacos and we can try to sell some tacos to help you and see what work we need to get started," explains Luis.

His idea is a sizzling success, literally and figuratively! His current position opened the right door for the new side gig at White Rhino Patio & Cocktail Bar.

"So, Plan Express did some plans and permits for this bar. So, I just reached out to the owner, and I asked him. I said, Look, I have this idea about selling these specific birria tacos. You can buy tacos everywhere else in Houston but these birria tacos, this is all I want to do. I want to do one thing and do it right," says Luis.

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Now he is! The savory delicacies are tempting taste buds, and people are lining up for them. Luis' mother even helps out when she feels strong enough.

"I have my mom there helping me. It's a family business, so a family affair, I have my wife there, my sister helps me and sometimes I have additional help," says Luis.

Soon, Luis' family had another setback, when his dad suffered a stroke.

"Shortly after we started selling tacos, this is about four or five months ago. It was literally our second day selling tacos when we found out that my dad had a stroke and so he was rushed to the emergency room, his blood pressure was really high. The doctor said he could've had a massive heart attack and possibly would not be here anymore, but we overcame that. God paved the way and right now my dad, he's doing good. He is still struggling with his medication and his regimen, he's no longer the same man he used to be, so full of energy, now he has to take it a little easier, and it's definitely a big lifestyle change for him, but he's making it work," exclaims Luis.

The medicines are incredibly expensive, so Luis is trying to take financial stress off of his parents through his love of making tacos. He hopes word of mouth will help keep his dream alive.

"We're gaining in popularity! People are definitely finding out. We have our usuals, we have all kinds of people that come by, and so it's been a really good atmosphere. People have been very, very welcoming, very inviting, we get a lot of positive feedback. People really enjoy it," says a proud Luis.

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He has even teamed up with local businesses, like Gallery Furniture, to give back to our community. This sense of community helps empower him.

"I've never known hunger, we've always been happy, didn't have a rough childhood, just growing up poor, but faith was the one thing that we always had. We always had hope and we always had love, and all things that the gospel teaches, so God plays a big role in our lives," states Luis.

Now he's sharing that with others, while his parents reap benefits from all the love they've provided him.

"The White Rhino is a really nice patio bar. It's at 319 Milby Street in Houston, Texas and we're there every Tuesday, Thursday, and some weekends." You might even catch him entertaining the crowd with karaoke! 

Luis suggests people follow "La Birria" on Facebook to make sure he'll be at the White Rhino.

For more information, visit https://www.whiterhinohoustontx.com