A walk through the grocery store comes with new sticker shock: eggs are expensive. For some, prohibitively so. This month, the average cost of a carton of a dozen eggs reached $4.25, compared to $1.93 in January 2022, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Why are eggs so dang pricey? The answer is twofold: inflation and avian influenza infecting egg-laying hens. Hearing this news as a taco editor and avid consumer of breakfast tacos, I can’t help but ask: what are Texans and the taquerias selling the morning staple to do?
Ale Sanchez, co-owner of El Sancho Tex Mex BBQ, in Mission, says this latest spike doesn’t compare to egg prices during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Back then, a case of eggs, fifteen dozen packs of eggs, cost us about eighty bucks,” she says. “Now we pay somewhere between forty and forty-five bucks a case.” Still, the increasing price of eggs, along with rising prices of other essential goods, compelled Sanchez and her pitmaster husband, Daniel, to raise menu prices by fifty cents this past October. “We did everything we could to keep the prices the same, but we felt forced,” Daniel says.
If the price increase has impacted their business, the Sanchezes say it’s negligible. Other taquerias haven’t been as fortunate. Victoria Elizondo, owner of Houston’s Cochinita & Co., tells me her taqueria’s egg-based breakfast tacos account for fifty percent of sales. She’s feeling the pinch because she is wary of increasing prices lest it impact her regulars. “It would mess with our customers’ routines,” Elizondo says. Some of those patrons visit multiple times a week or even twice a day. The standard breakfast tacos are made with two large eggs that currently cost 50 cents each. Elizondo is paying $90 per case. “That’s on top of food prices continuing to be high,” she stresses, before warning of changes. “Consumers need to understand when prices skyrocket and fluctuate, we won’t change prices right away, but if this continues, we’re going to have to raise prices in the next few weeks. It’s affecting the business.”
Hugo Garcia of Con Huevos Tacos, in San Antonio, claims egg prices aren’t impacting his business as much. The varying costs of ingredients are part of his five-year plan to profitability, which values quality over quantity. “Who doesn’t want to profit a little more from sales?” Garcia wonders aloud during a phone interview. “But I never intended to see profit for the first five years.” Instead, Garcia focuses on building a brand that will have customers returning regardless of a price increase. “They’ll continue to come as long as we’re striving for quality,” he continues. “We’re cooking from scratch; we’re not a fast-food restaurant just because we sell tacos.” Nevertheless, Garcia admits he’d prefer for eggs to cost less than ten cents each. He’s currently forking over more than $50 for every 180 eggs now, or about 28 cents per egg. It’s better than the $70 to $90 dollars he had previously been paying.
Like Elizondo, Garcia puts at least two extra-large eggs in each taco, making for sizable options in big, Brownsville-style, gossamer-thin handmade flour tortillas. They’re among the best breakfast tacos in Texas, and they’re eventually going to cost more.
The good news, despite fluctuating market rates, is that egg prices are trending downward and are forecast to continue to drop. The USDA reports that this week’s prices in the region that encompasses Texas are 57 cents lower for extra-large eggs and 75 cents lower for large eggs. Here’s the thing, though: breakfast tacos don’t require eggs to be good. The style is broad and diverse, especially in San Antonio and areas farther south. To help Texans sate their appetites without feeling the pinch, I’ve compiled a list of recommended eggless breakfast tacos and where to find them.
Sylvia’s Restaurant, Brownsville
While barbacoa specialists, such as Vera’s Backyard Bar-B-Que, reserve sales to weekends, Sylvia’s Mexican Restaurant, which sits on the same street as Vera’s, offers beef barbacoa daily. Luscious, shimmering, and juicy in the platter-size flour tortilla, it’s a Texas must. 1843 Southmost Boulevard, Brownsville, 956-542-9220.
Bean and Cheese
Original Donut Shop, San Antonio
A well-made bean-and-cheese taco is perfection, and that’s what you get at this nearly seventy-year-old breakfast joint. 3307 Fredericksburg Road, San Antonio, 210-734-5661.
Bean, Cheese, and Bacon
Con Huevos Tacos, San Antonio
This twist on a South Texas classic replaces pinto beans with mayocoba beans from Peru. They’re more expensive, but they are creamier and stand up nicely to the salty cheddar and crunchy strip of bacon. 1629 E. Houston, San Antonio, 210-229-9295.
Ms. G’s Tacos N’ More, McAllen
When you open the aluminum foil nestling this Tex-Mex taco standard, chunky blocks of beef swimming in deep, dark gravy are revealed and quickly relished at this Rio Grande Valley stalwart. 2263 Pecan Boulevard, McAllen, 956-668-8226.
Chile Relleno Burrito
La Colonial Tortilla Factory, El Paso
The tightly wrapped fresh flour tortilla bears a chewy and cheesy green chile relleno. It’s a delightful example of a popular West Texas nosh at this Sun City institution. 212 N. Copia, El Paso, 915-533-9691.
La Loncheria & Tortilleria, Midland
This succulent mixed-meat preparation, typical of South Texas and northern Mexico, is a great way to start a day in the Permian Basin. It’s got weenies. 1605 S. Main, Midland, 432-570-4620.
Nopales and Vegan Chorizo
Cochinita & Co., Houston
Vegetal and spicy without an animal product in sight, this taco is a favorite of non–meat eaters at Victoria Elizondo’s Cochinita & Co. 5420 Lawndale, Suite 500, Houston, 713-203-3999.
Pork Chop Taco
Garcia’s Mexican Food, San Antonio
This bone-in beaut dusted with lemon-pepper seasoning and served with a steak knife is an underrated breakfast option. That’s also true of the many pork chop tacos across Alamo City. They’re an unsung member of the breakfast taco canon and deserve a place in your growling stomach. 842 Fredericksburg Road, San Antonio, 210-735-4525.
The Robert Special
Los Jacales, Laredo
This fifty-year-old South Texas diner specializes in an array of breakfast tacos, often referred to as “mariachis” in Laredo. There are excellent nostalgic choices, such as the weenie-and-egg taco, but the star is the Robert Special. It’s a gussied-up version of the carne ranchera taco, which is filled with mesquite-smoked brisket and gravy. The Robert, though, gilds the lily with crumbled bacon and optional refried beans to bind the ingredients in a flaky flour tortilla. 620 Guadalupe, Laredo, 956-722-8470.