The Breakfast Taco

A tribute.
The Breakfast Taco
Photograph by LeAnn Mueller

It’s more exotic than a sandwich. It’s healthier than a cheeseburger. It’s portable, expertly wrapped in foil and stuffed into a paper to-go bag. It is one of the best bargains on earth, at $3 or less. And it’s ubiquitous, so much so that it’s hard to remember that it burst onto the Texas scene only some thirty years ago, when the Mexican workingman’s breakfast migrated north and some anonymous saint had the smarts to marry the key elements of an American morning—scrambled eggs, bacon, potatoes—with the Mexican staples of salsa, cheese, refried beans, and tortillas. Behold the mighty breakfast taco. It is genius.

Yes, the name is a point of contention: usually, anything in a flour tortilla is a burrito, but because the word “burrito” arrived in some cities only as recently as the eighties, when the flour tortilla emerged as an alternative to corn, “taco” has remained the default term. (A general rule of thumb: if you’re west of Brady, call it a “breakfast burrito”; if you’re east, it’s a “breakfast taco.” In Laredo, it’s a “mariachi,” though nobody can conclusively say why.) Yet whether it comes from the taquería in San Antonio that offers homemade chorizo, the hole-in-the-wall in El Paso that serves machaca, or the greasy spoon in Austin that throws in some potato hash, the breakfast taco is delicious—and the fuel that energizes the workforce, be it blue-collar, white-collar, or no-collar. I think we can agree on that.

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