Texans love to argue about breakfast tacos. They did so vehemently back in 2016, when Eater Austin ran a feature that declared the Capital City the home of the breakfast taco. This is not true—the oldest reference to breakfast tacos was in a 1959 San Antonio Express-News article about Joe Acosta’s West Side business—but it still sparked a spicy debate on Twitter, including a tongue-in-cheek petition. The mayors of San Antonio and Austin held diplomatic talks. Even Texas Monthly’s own Dan Solomon joined the fray. Two years later, a D Magazine cover declaring Dallas a taco city elicited a similar response. The mayor of McAllen playfully fired back with a web video that touted his city as Texas’s true taco capital. Today, there is another not-so-serious taco debate to be had. I am, of course, referring to people’s preference for the preparation of their bacon-and-egg breakfast tacos.
I was reminded of the debate recently when I was in line with a friend at a breakfast-and-lunch taco truck in San Antonio. “Oh, that old argument,” my buddy sighed when I posed the question: should the bacon be served in strips atop scrambled eggs, or should it be chopped?
Garrett Heath, founder of the San Antonio blog and merch shop SAFlavor.com, knows how strong opinions are on this subject. Last year, he produced one hundred lotería-inspired El Breakfast Taco Fiesta medals for each preparation. He then asked the public to vote with their wallets. I purchased one of each. To my surprise, the bacon strips version won by a three-to-one margin. “I thought it would be fifty-fifty, but it was overwhelmingly in favor of strips,” Heath says. “We still have never even run out of the chopped bacon medals.”
Heath recalls when the divide became evident to him. Before last year’s Fiesta medal production, he picked up breakfast tacos for himself and an employee. His colleague opened the foil wrapper to find a bacon strip over his eggs. According to Heath, the man lost his cool and shouted, “I don’t want a whole slice of bacon to come out on the first bite!” It’s a fair point. Why would anyone favor eating a taco in which an essential component cracks or tumbles out of the tortilla? Wouldn’t it be better to taste a little bacon in every bite?
“It’s one of those endless San Antonio debates that’s more like a family argument,” Heath laughs. He doesn’t believe it will escalate into a full-blown feud fueled by semiautomatic chancla launchers. But the issue does reach beyond the city limits to anywhere bacon-and-egg breakfast tacos are sold. The Austin-based Tacodeli chain serves a taco with a strip of bacon and an avocado wedge on a smear of refried black beans and a sprinkle of queso fresco. It’s called the Otto and is inspired by the South Texas classic that uses refried pinto beans. The beans act as a savory adhesive, preventing the bacon from falling out.
Cat Cardenas, a Texas Monthly staff writer and San Antonio native, prefers bacon strips. For her, it’s all about the ratio. “I think eggs are a good base ingredient that’s usually made way better with add-ins,” such as chorizo, bacon, and cheese, she says. “When I get mixed-in bacon, I usually find that the ratio is a little off and there’s not as much bacon as I like,” she says.
I’ve noticed this potential pitfall too. When bacon is added to scrambled eggs while they’re cooking, the meat doesn’t always seem to be equally distributed once it’s all served in a taco. The bacon can also be undercooked or soften to textural indistinguishability in the finishing of the eggs. Yet, with few exceptions, I continue to prefer the bacon to be mixed in with eggs in my breakfast tacos. I don’t want to risk slippage, crumbs, or other problems. The only things that prevent these are luck or adhesive ingredients. In San Antonio, frozen-in-time Maria’s Café serves thick, dark slices of bacon in a mess of refried beans and melting cheese. That helps retain the integrity of the pork product. At Mi Tierra Cafe in San Antonio’s Market Square, a slice is perched atop a plop of softly scrambled eggs. Taco Cabana offers customers a single slice with a pale thread down the center.
Tía Dora’s Bakery in Dallas’s Oak Cliff neighborhood offers the bacon-and-egg taco chopped and mixed. During my seven years of eating there, I have never had a problem with ratio or undercooking. The same went for Taco Stop until the morning-lunch taqueria closed in 2020. But Heath reminds me there’s something special about the crispiness of the bacon slice: “It’s gotta be crispy!” The snap of the first bite is an audible delight.
If you disagree with your friends or family on this vital question, never fear: at the Original Donut Shop in San Antonio, both bacon strips and chopped bacon with eggs are available by request. Just make sure you order at the correct counter—inside, there’s one line for doughnuts and another for tacos. You can also order tacos and doughnuts via drive-through lanes marked by red, yellow, and green signs. Don’t get in the wrong lane. There is no turning back. The drive-through lines are long, but everyone goes home happy—which is how you should feel after eating a breakfast taco.