I have scads of gripes about long lines. Mainly due to their cultish aspects. The way I see it, if I’m going to wait in a long line hours before a restaurant opens it will be at a place where a specific food was invented, like La Fogoncito, birthplace of the gringa taco (a taco al pastor with cheese in a flour tortilla). However, lines are a rarity at a good taqueria.
Breakfast tacos weren’t invented at Stripes gas stations with Laredo Taco Company outposts and there are long lines, but the lines move quickly. When I visited a Stripes/Laredo Taco Company in the Rio Grande Valley, I waited maybe a couple of minutes between getting in line and receiving my tacos. With large flour tortillas that are fresher than that. Your tortillas are made after you order. And don’t be surprised if the woman taking your order breaks some bad news: they’re out of what you want but will be have another batch in 10 to 15 minutes if you’re willing to wait. This kind of freshness can be difficult to find in quiet hole-in-the-wall taquerias in Dallas.
The chorizo, egg and potato taco heated the car hood upon which I ate my order. The filling was an equal mix of pork and bright eggs with vigorous spice to match the temperature. While the bacon, chopped small, was crisp, it needed a leg up from a pinch of salt. Of course, there’s the glorious lard-embraced, almost-translucent tortillas wrapping your choice of available filling.
For me, Stripes and the Laredo Taco Company represent the ubiquity, the significance of breakfast tacos in the Valley. You can get a breakfast taco anywhere in South Texas, from stall and family joint to drive-through and tortilleria. Tacos can be sold from almost anywhere, a basket on the back of a bike, a cart, a truck, a full-service restaurant. And Stripes/Laredo Taco Company shops are everywhere.
During a summer trip to the Valley, a friend and I would joke about how we just missed an opportunity to try breakfast tacos at Stripes but there was really no need to worry. Another Stripes-Laredo Taco Company combo was just up the road. “Guess we’ll have to wait a few more blocks,” one would say. And, sure enough, there would be one a bit further along whatever stretch of Rio Grande Valley road we were hunting for tacos. If you miss a Stripes, don’t fret. There’s another up the way (locations are open as far north as Waco with stores planned throughout Texas). It might not have the filling you want but it will have admirable, fresh tacos.Stripes/Laredo Taco Company Various locations