© Abby Hocking

An ode.

Max Bonem
April 20, 2017

Sitting at a picnic table on Cesar Chavez Street, I enjoyed my last order of breakfast tacos as an Austinite. For the first time ever in my four years of eating breakfast tacos, I didn’t want to finish them off.

On that morning, I'd dropped into Veracruz All Natural, something I’d done many times before. As always, I ordered two breakfast tacos, one chorizo, egg and cheese and one migas, a Tex-Mex hybrid that includes eggs, cheese, pico de gallo and day-old tortillas chips. To the migas taco, I added bacon. Why? I deserved it—I had a very long drive to Ohio in front of me.

I devoured the chorizo, egg and cheese taco at my usual frantic pace, despite the screamin’ hotness of the flour tortilla. However, as I got to the migas, my pace slowed. Not because I wasn’t still hungry, but because I knew that as soon as it was gone, it was time to leave.

***

Ask any displaced Texan which food they miss most and if they don't say barbecue, they’ll say breakfast tacos—because breakfast tacos are magical. They're usually nothing more than scrambled eggs and cheese wrapped in a fresh flour tortilla—with perhaps some bacon, chorizo or potato—but these humble, foil-wrapped packets of sustenance can bring you back from the dead after a long night out. You unwrap your little morning gift, dunk it in salsa, take a bite and remember that everything does not suck.

Everyone in Central Texas, regardless of background, occupation or economic bracket, eats breakfast tacos. There’s little to explain about them, but so much to enjoy, and that’s why people become addicted to breakfast tacos after living Austin, or even just visiting for the weekend.

On the occasional Friday morning when it wasn’t scorching hot by 8:30 a.m., I would ride my bike to work and grab breakfast tacos along the way. My usual stop was at Royal Blue Grocery, either on Congress or W 4th Street, where I’d opt for a steak, egg and cheese and a veggie chorizo and egg (yes, the veggie chorizo rules), assuming they were still available. Coupled with a chilled Topo Chico or iced coffee, this was the best part of my workweek for almost two years.

I also enjoyed a breakfast taco or two during that special time of day when late night becomes early morning and eating greasy and questionable food becomes acceptable. When I lived down the street from Las Cazuelas, it was my 24-hour refuge for cheap, satisfying breakfast tacos. Their tacos will never win any awards, but if an establishment will serve me three freshly made breakfast tacos at 2:30 a.m. for less than $4.00, I think it deserves my unqualified gratitude.

***

Eventually, I finished my migas taco. The last bite was especially bittersweet. At the same time, it was also the perfect savory blend of cheese, egg and tortilla, all topped with the salsa I'd been saving for a perfectly hot last bite. At that point, there was nothing left to say and, as with my vacant room in the Austin house I'd just packed up, my picnic table spot was being eyed by a recent transplant with an impatient look on his face. Hopefully, he enjoyed his first bite of a breakfast taco as much as I did my last.

Breakfast tacos aren’t designed to be perfect. They're just breakfast on the go, nothing more or less. But breakfast tacos do produce perfect moments, regardless of where you’ve been or where you’re heading next.