Category Archives: breakfast tacos

La Tacopedia Author Alejandro Escalante Talks Breakfast Tacos

Alejandro Escalante at the North Texas Taco Festival/Alex Flores

There’s been a lot of talk about breakfast tacos lately. Much of it has focused on the people who prepare and sell Texans their favorite way to start day. The interviews amassed are crucial to the archives. We need the stories after those folks are passed. But what about the taco motherland and the breakfast taco analogs (tacos mañaneros) in Mexico? They exist, and not just in the sense that you can throw anything in a tortilla and call it a taco. Taken together, the work of culinary historians and taco experts Jeffrey M. Pilcher and Alejandro Escalante show that breakfast tacos were likely the first tacos. The word taco came into print and common usage in the 18th century with tacos mineros, named in favor of silver miners who subsisted on them and after the gunpowder-filled paper rolls (tacos) workers used to clear rock. (Of course, there are other theories.) With time, tacos mineros morphed into tacos de canasta, which today are regular morning noshes found on the streets of Mexico City. But they aren’t the only ones. In Michoacan, carnitas in freshly fried hard-shell tacos (tacos dorados) are a favorite breakfast food. In Jalisco, lamb tacos dorados are common.

Escalante, contributor to Mexican online food journal Animal Gourmet and author of the first comprehensive encyclopedia of the taco, La Tacopedia, took time to discuss Mexico’s other breakfast tacos. The interview that follows was conducted in Spanish and is presented translated into English.

Taco Trail: Tacos are eaten at all times of the day. In Mexico, tacos mañaneros, what we call breakfast tacos in the United States, include tacos de canasta. What are other tacos mañaneros, and what goes in them?

Alejandro Escalante: Tacos de canasta are the most common breakfast tacos in Mexico City. Tacos de guisados are perhaps equally popular in the capital now that they’re practically the national breakfast food: corn tortillas with one or two leftover guisados. They’re always accompanied with rice, beans, salsa and chiles…

Classic: chicharrón in a Green, red or mixed salsa; beef picadillo, rajas con crema; chorizo with potatoes, mole with shredded chicken, tinga, cochinita, bistek in salsa (pasilla, green, red, etc.), moronga [blood sausage], sausage, milanesa… Continue reading

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Filed under breakfast tacos, interviews, Lengua Sessions, Mexico City

Taco-Mex

TacoMexWindo

This is a hole in a wall. Really. Wedged between a laundromat, a hair salon and a convenience store, Taco-Mex is an orange color-framed walk-up taco window. From the menu at the right are available $1.75 vinegar-spiked cactus strips embroiled in scrambled eggs, refried beans speckled with whole pintos and a network of melted cheese, peppy chorizo and egg as well as migas minus the Scoville slap of jalapeños. The $2 barbaoca is a greasy cowhead-lovers dream and would make admirable hangover salve.

The bacon and egg and ham and egg breakfast tacos by comparison are standard fare for the varied clientele of university students, young adults who have pioneered gentrification of surrounding East Austin, locals tapping their feet to the rhythm of the washers and dryers next door, and the fashionable lot who prefer not to shop at in.gredients, the hip grocer across the street. Ratchet up their satisfaction with the creamy salsa verde, a lung-puncher of a condiment. Continue reading

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Filed under Austin, breakfast tacos, Reviews, Texas

Where to Eat During the Second Annual Oak Cliff Film Festival

Mi Tierrita Ext

The second annual Oak Cliff Film Festival kicks off Thursday, June 6, and it promises to outdo the inaugural edition. Not only will there be events hosted at  the Texas Theatre, the Kessler Theather, Bishop Arts Theater and the Belmont Hotel, there will be myriad events of all shenanigan levels. Croquet will go down on the Turner House lawn and Oak Cliff’s Small Brew housemates will take one step closer to opening their Small Brew Pub with a pop-up at Jefferson Tower. The Capture the Flag Bike Ride rolls out from the Texas on Saturday evening. And like the film festival, the neighborhood’s taco options have changed and evolved. Here are my picks for those looking to get a taco fix in the Cliff.

Cool & Hot, 930A E. 8th St., 214-944-5330
This converted gas station and car wash makes their corn tortillas in house and serves the best breakfast tacos south of the Trinity.  The mouth-puckering barbacoa on a diminutive flour tortilla alone is the ideal first stop on your daily film festival itinerary. The chorizo and egg taco packs a delightful soft slap of heat.

Taquería Tiquicheo, 110 S. Marsalis Ave., Ste. A, 214-941-4300
This small, cash-only joint serves fierce pollo deshebrada, chicken stewed and shredded. Tiquicheo’s version is prepared with tomatoes and chilies and nestled in house-made tortillas. Temper the heat with a Mexican Coke.

El Pueblo Restaurant, 525 E. Jefferson Blvd., 214-946-3070
This corner joint serves the best carnitas in Oak Cliff with a side of unhurried service.

El Tizoncito Taqueria, 3404 W. Illinois Ave., Ste. 100, 214-330-0839
This small Dallas chain’s original location sits at the corner of Westmoreland and Illinois, serving classic Mexico City tacos al pastor from a trompo, mischievously sloppy choriqueso that marries cheese and chorizo on a bed of three flour tortillas as well as a full menu of Mexican fare.

Los Torres Taqueria, 1322 W. Clarendon Dr., 214-946-3770
This mom-and-pop shop is something special. It’s the only Sinaloan restaurant in Dallas—so far—and it has never failed when it comes to incredible northern Mexican dishes like gamey goat birria de chivo, luscious cabeza (a mix of beef cheek and tongue) and barbacoa roja estilo Sinaloa, which has pork and beef in every exquisite bite. True to the state of origin, order your tacos in handmade flour tortillas. But if you insist, at least request the handmade corn tortillas. Continue reading

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Filed under Bishop Arts District, breakfast tacos, Dallas, DFW, festivals, Oak Cliff

Ten Joints With Great Breakfast Tacos

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Breakfast in Texas means tacos, and breakfast has been on my mind a lot lately. So, I’d thought I’d offer my current top 10 places for the proper way to begin a day—anywhere, not just in the Lone Star State.

Taqueria La Salsa Verde
Although its appearance shows otherwise, the taquera working this Richardson gas-station counter claims the taco de cabeza (above) is prepared al vapor. Whatever its preparation, the taco is still excellent. Which is really all that matters to me first thing in the morning. The choriqueso is the cabeza’s equal. 14225 Coit Road, 972-330-0403

San Juanita
The chorizo and cheese at this South Congress shack offers buckshot heat in a large tortilla, giving any road trip a fiery start. 4406 S. Congress Ave., Austin, 512-443-9308 Continue reading

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Filed under Austin, Best of, breakfast tacos, DFW, East Dallas, North Texas, Oak Cliff, Plano, Richardson, San Antonio, Tex-Mex, Texas

The Taco Pronto Café

Amid construction, industrial workshops and medical office buildings sits the Taco Pronto Café, a greasy spoon with house-made flour tortillas and specialties like spam and beans. A wood-carved portly, bearded man, tattooed with the years of greetings and messages from customers and adorned with religious paraphernalia stands just inside the entrance. It’s the kind of eating establishment that even when frantically busy is a place where one can take a load off, sip coffee and decompress with comforting tacos, maybe menudo.

Although we didn’t request the stomach soup, my family did order the fresh flour tortillas the waitress recommended. “The corn tortillas are store-bought. Go with the flour.” They transformed what could have been mediocre tacos into meritorious ones packed with stick-to-your-ribs goods, particularly the long list of breakfast tacos served all day.

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Filed under breakfast tacos, Dallas, Medical District, North Texas, Reviews, Tex-Mex

Meet and Eat: Digg’s Taco Shop’s Richard Rivera

“Meet and Eat” is an occasional—rare, really—series about adventures and discussions with food writers, chefs, restaurateurs and others orbiting the food world.

The Park Cities/Upper Greenville area has a new breakfast tacos destination: Digg’s Taco Shop. The Hillcrest Avenue restaurant opened across from Southern Methodist University in February 2011. But only recently did the good, comfortable joint that bills itself as influenced by the Austin music and taco scenes begin serving breakfast tacos.

So, why did Digg’s chef Richard Rivera and business partners wait until Sept. 24 to offer breakfast tacos?

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Filed under breakfast tacos, Dallas, DFW, interviews, Meet and Eat, Tex-Mex

Guero’s Taco Diner

San Antonio offers a few culinary amenities in the vicinity of the Stone Oak neighborhood. There’s Hacienda de los Barrios, a gastronomic playground for classic Tex-Mex, for example. Or, in the case of those jonesing for specialty breakfast tacos, there’s Guero’s Taco Diner, a small, corner store in one of the myriad, practically identical adobe-colored shopping centers.

On the way out of town, my friend and driver, Matt, and I stopped into this sleepy restaurant to fill up before the long drive to Dallas.

What we discovered was an operation that could compete with the best of the upmarket breakfast taco joints, including Tacodeli, Good 2 Go Taco and Taco Garage. (I should’ve known something was up when the owner greeted us in front of the restaurant with an honorable, trustworthy handshake.) Continue reading

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Filed under breakfast tacos, Reviews, San Antonio, Tex-Mex, Texas

Taco Garage & Tito’s Mexican Restaurant

San Antonio and Tex-Mex are as inseparable as Philadelphia and cheesesteaks. The Alamo City’s influence on our homegrown cuisine is greater than any other Texas municipality. It thrust Tex-Mex into the national spotlight with chili queens, later with the puffy taco and the prized breakfast taco. The latter has been gaining traction in American cities such as New York but remains the wake-up meal of San Antone, where its burst free of the egg-and-one-protein (maybe some cheese) restrictions.

On a recent visit to San Antonio, that variety kept a friend, and I sated during a duo of breakfast stops.

The first, Taco Garage, can be best described as a Tex-Mex joint with a rock-n-roll sensibility slapped with grease lightning housed in a former auto mechanic’s shop. Jones, my amigo and driver, went for the huevos divorciados, a segmented platter of eggs, beans, bacon and green and red salsas he had lauded on the ride from Dallas. I went for a trio of substantial morning munchers.

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Filed under breakfast tacos, Reviews, San Antonio, Tex-Mex

The Tacos of Southern Methodist University

A version of this post was originally published on MSN Postbox, which until the project was terminated Sept. 1 was my day job. The piece was part of the website’s Campus Guide topic. Now that students have settled into the course load I’d like to share it with Taco Trail readers and recommend several places to get your taco fix near Southern Methodist University.

Pizza fuels many a college town in the Northeast. In Texas, however, higher education finds nourishment in tacos. No other Dallas university campus is as sustained by taco shops and Tex-Mex restaurants than that of Southern Methodist University.

Across from SMU on Hillside Avenue is Digg’s Taco Shop. The fast-casual operation takes inspiration from Austin’s music scene (wall-mounted LPs), but it’s not a dump with sticky counters. The restaurant’s clean orange and white color scheme marks it as acceptable for mom and dad on parents’ day. More than acceptable are the mahi and the carnitas tacos, kicked up a notch with a margarita ice pop. Continue reading

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Filed under breakfast tacos, Dallas, DFW, North Texas, Tex-Mex, Texas

Taste of Home

Last week, I decried the fact that no food truck, much less a taco truck, was serving breakfast tacos. Then, I went to the Grand Prairie Farmers Market’s Hatch Chile Festival, hungry. There weren’t any taco trucks stationed on the west end of the market, but Taste of Home, a rig specializing in Chicago-style sausages, was selling breakfast tacos, Hatch chilies optional.

The line for the tacos was five deep. The number of people waiting for their orders was twice that, while the wait for said orders was 30 minutes. One woman paced, barely containing her exasperation. Shortly thereafter, her name was called with the wrong order repeated to her. She darted out of view when she got the correct tacos. But the natives were getting restless. Other customers grumbled. One threatened to demand reimbursement. Another remarked, “These breakfast tacos better come with gold plate.” Continue reading

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Filed under breakfast tacos, DFW, food truck, Grand Prairie, North Texas, Texas