Dear everyone who goes ga-ga over Veracruz All Natural’s migas tacos:

Next time you go to the North Austin location of the local mini chain, get the signature breakfast taco if you must, but don’t leave without ordering a picada. Described on the restaurant’s menu as open-faced tacos, picadas are related to tacos—they are both types of street foods categorized as antojitos (literally “little whims” but better translated to “street snack”) and can be eaten like tacos—but they are not tacos. What they are is a fine example of interpreting an otherwise likely foreign item into familiar terms. They are also fantastic.

At least that’s the case for the picada de pipian, a cooked tortilla that is pinched along the edges while still warm to form a peaked border and given a swath of dusky red pipian mole that balances sweet, spicy, and smoky with its ancho and chipotle chiles, tomatoes, pumpkin and sesame seeds, and range of earthy spices. The pipian is topped with arches of sliced white onion, queso fresco, cecina, and a small cap of avocado. The beef cecina is pleasantly chewy. Sear marks accent the irregularly cut 24-hour marinated bistec. The tortilla is slightly thicker than your average taco tortilla and doesn’t strain under the weight of the filling—although, truth be told, the avocado slid around a lot.

The picada de pipian.Photograph by José R. Ralat

Picadas as a street food are a regional specialty of Veracruz, the home Mexican state of the owners, sisters Reyna and Maritza Vazquez. They are usually served with a side of black beans (as they are at Veracruz) and for breakfast. “Picadas are some of the most prominent breakfast/brunch items over there,” says Reyna, but like the other menu items at Veracruz All Natural, picadas are available all day.

There is just one problem with the picada de pipian. The dish is available only at the Waterford Centre location. There are two reasons for this, Vazquez explains. First, there is the lack of space at the other outposts. Then, there is something a touch more personal. “The North Austin restaurant is where I am putting an emphasis on menu items more typical of Veracruz,” she says. Sure, the brick-and-mortar doesn’t have the local charm of the flagship East Austin rig or the other trucks. That’s not the point. The point is: the picada de pipian is as much a must-order as the migas taco.

Veracruz All Natural—North Austin
9003 Waterford Centre Boulevard, Suite 180, Austin
Phone: (512) 363-5917
Hours: Daily 7am-9pm