Breakfast tacos: moist scrambled eggs and most often a protein or potatoes wrapped in a study-enough flour tortilla – recently made in house by experienced hands, ideally – and aided by a flavorful salsa that complements and ties together the components. Flour tortillas are the standard, as the staffer at Hugo Ortega’s new Urbe confirmed emphatically when I asked which type of tortilla works best for the tacos I was ordering. But corn tortillas are becoming a more familiar as an option at more than a few places now. The universe of breakfast tacos is expanding.
Breakfast tacos are an American thing, as far as I can tell and originally a Texas thing, though the breakfast burrito and similar items are probably from points further west. These seemingly don’t exist in Mexico other than for barbacoa – that eggless, heart-endangering, usually weekend pleasure – for which I received some more recent confirmation from current and former residents. Scrambled eggs stuck into a tortilla with salsa seems like such a natural thing, but this combination hasn’t been around forever. Breakfast tacos might have had their start in San Antonio, and Texas Monthly claimed to have found an ad from a paper there in the 1950s mentioning those. I began to notice them in Houston in the 1990s, though maybe these existed before then. I don’t remember them in my earlier time in Austin, though.
To note, I’ve mostly included places where it’s easy to get them, not the places serving breakfast as part of a large morning ensemble meant most for dining in. Some of these can be good, but not terribly convenient nor quick, and that’s usually part of the attraction of breakfast tacos.
Listed in order of preference.
Tacos A Go Go – You’ll have to wait at least a short while for these cooked-to-order morning sensations that are necessarily customized, two items from a choice of a dozen quality options – bacon, sausage, refried beans, etc. – to complement the scrambled eggs, which means shredded cheese can be added for no additional cost, usually a significant benefit. The number of possible creations are generally welcome, but can require some additional thinking during those much slower weekend mornings. Along with tacos with the expected fillings, for a little more there are eggs with lamb barbacoa, a really tasty pork guisada, carne guisada, and smoked brisket. A variety of delicious, mostly piquant salsas can complement any creation, which are available on either flour or corn tortillas, and also whole wheat, for some reason. Wrapped just in aluminum foil, these tacos travel well, too. Midtown, Heights, Garden Oaks, Downtown
The Second Best
La Carreta – This low-volume spot set unassumingly on 20th Street in the Heights for nearly fifty years serves up some terrific straightforward breakfast tacos that are more than the sum of its parts led by tasty house-made flour tortillas and a different, watery salsa with a subtle spicy flavor that seems to improve everything. Made to order and travels well. Heights,
El Charro – The fairly spiffy location on Harrisburg is quite cheap and convenient – if you live in or not too far from the East End – and with a drive-thru. It does a more than commendable job with these basic renditions, as with it does with most its offerings, and for a terrific value. Excellent salsas and machacado and eggs, too. East End, Alief
Urbe – Opened in the summer of 2021, this attractive and inviting outpost featuring street food from top toque Hugo Ortega and team (Hugo’s, Caracol, Xochi) in Uptown Park is necessarily more ambitious, wide-ranging and accomplished than just about any taco purveyor around. Tacos here include more items, and likely of higher quality, than elsewhere and are available with either flour or corn tortillas; the former should be the choice, of course. Uptown Park
The Taco Stand – Far from a taco stand, this slick operations on Shepherd in the Heights – a sibling of The Burger Joint next door – offers plump and usually delectable breakfast tacos that can be had in fresh flour tortillas, or corn for about thirty cents less. Tortillas are made in house, though the flour ones are vegan; no tasty manteca de cerdo in the mix. These tacos aren’t the cheapest around, but worth it, and these are nicely available until 11 each morning, and with a drive-thru, which is at least as nice. It’s better to arrive before then because the breakfast versions are much tastier than the later-day ones. Also, the viscous Taqueria Arandas-style green salsa significantly aids any of the morning offerings. Heights
La Chingada – Assembled to order with a fair number of fillings stuffed inside house-made flour tortillas for a plump, satisfying result that’s wrapped in aluminum foil to go and served with a trio of commendable salsas: a fiery orange, a piquant serrano-based whipped green, and a fairly mild tomatillo one. A fine value at around $3 each, the breakfast tacos are served daily, and that includes the barbacoa at this friendly, slightly funky spot not far west of I-45 and close to the Heights. Near Northside
Laredo Taqueria – Four locations, including the seemingly-always-line-out-the-door original on Washington. Available with either flour or corn tortillas, and $3 each for the standard two-item versions – mostly egg and something else, of course, but barbacoa daily – that are straightforward and satisfying, especially with aid from the spicy viscous green salsa or the piquant, thin red one. From a steam table that is replenished more often than most anywhere else, a smear of refried beans provides a base on the tortilla of choice, with the flour tortillas noticeably fresh and flavorful and the fluffy scrambled eggs plentiful; the proteins are used much more judiciously than elsewhere, but you will get pleasantly stuffed for less than $10 here. Washington Corridor and Near Northside (3)
Revival Market – Only one option, as a plate with a side, featuring supermarket aisle-quality flour tortillas and without any additional salsa that is kind of pricey for what it is, but very tasty and definitely worth an order. Other than the tortillas, the ingredients are as good or better than anywhere else, which is what you would expect from this restaurant cum artisanal butcher and food shop. Heights
Cantina Barba – Cooked to order, and solid and sensibly-sized, these are served all day and with the option for corn tortillas. And, it is open until 2 AM, in case taste matters that late. Near Northside
El Rey – Wrapped in paper then aluminum foil, these plump tacos are available in enough varieties to satisfy most including a Cuban version with black beans providing the protein. The drive-thrus are an important consider. Like The Taco Stand, just go for breakfast not for the afternoon tacos. Washington Corridor, Garden Oaks, Spring Branch, Katy
La Mexicana – A solid choice featuring items dished from steam trays piled into large flour tortillas toasted on the plancha; not helped by two of the lamest salsas to be found, especially a slightly sweet green one, but these are served all day. Montrose
Henderson and Kane – Low-volume with service that’s always slow, but the breakfast tacos are well-done, made to order featuring pretty tasty flour tortillas made in house and thick slices of bacon that is much higher quality than you’ll find in most other versions around, and the it offers the chance to enjoy beef brisket in the AM. For this, and all the morning tacos, skip the forgettable green salsa and pour on the piquant, flavorful reddish one. Sixth Ward
La Vibra – This modern taco stop serves some different types of notably artisanal tacos rooted in Mexico City. The morning versions are more local and less interesting, but are cooked to order and can be satisfying. Heights
La Guadalupana – The breakfast tacos at this quaint and popular café aren’t as good as they once were, and one of the other breakfast choices is a better option these days. Smaller-sized and utilizing commercial tortillas, the salsas are tasty and an order of the morning tacos can still usually satiate. Montrose
Brothers Taco House – A value provider as generous portions are scooped from the trays in the steam table beginning with a smear of refried beans into pretty good flour tortillas in an efficient fashion as the every-present line moves quickly. Its versions are solid even if the salsas don’t add too much, with the barbacoa being one of the better choices here. EaDo
El Sol Mejicano – Across from the police headquarters, these very no-frills versions – well-cooked scrambled eggs and another thing – are hefty and generally satisfying, cooked to order and with quality salsas for some necessary extra flavor. Downtown
El Topo – The near-polar opposite of El Sol Mejicano and Brothers Taco, this offers a chef-y, pricey version of the breakfast taco set in the heart of an upscale, largely white neighborhood. There are only a couple of breakfast taco options – a solid, not-so-value-oriented rendition of beef barbacoa and a loaded bacon, potato, egg and cheese one – and only open at 9:00; a big breakfast is not needed is these parts. The loaded option is the largest breakfast taco to be found in town, a true one’s-a-meal for most, which can be complemented with some of the least spicy salsas in all of Houston. West U
The Pit Room – Only recommendable for dine-in, as these travel poorly. House-made flour tortillas anchors these very big and bold versions with eggs that are cooked upon order and slathered with a very healthy amount of well creamed refried beans. The brisket tacos are a wonder, but are not enjoyable too many minutes past ordering even though well-wrapped in paper and aluminum foil; but maybe that’s part of the problem, as there’s just too much moisture in the meat and the eggs that are cooked to a wet consistency. Actually, nothing travels well at all, with or without the refried beans on the bottom. Montrose
Chilosos – Though not nearly in the same league as the tacos from nearby La Carreta or La Chingada, this spot has been popular for years with Heights residents. The breakfast tacos are huge, and so a fine value. Otherwise, the straightforward tacos feature house-made flour tortillas that are little thicker and gummier and less tasty than typical – corn is an option, too – and salsas that are also less flavorful, even as the green one packs some heat. Made to order, the orders can be quite slow to fulfill on weekends and the setting is rather cramped and charmless as you wait. Heights