Late Night Food Face-Off: Drive-Thru Breakfast Tacos
I was recently craving a breakfast taco when I found myself literally caught in the crossroads between Whataburger and Taco Cabana. So I did what any good food blogger would do and decided to get a potato, egg and cheese breakfast taco from both.
My first stop was Whataburger. The drive-thru lane was ridiculously crowded, so I went inside to order. One potato and egg taquito, add cheese, was $2.57 with tax. I was shocked at the hefty price tag of this one taquito. I sat down to wait for my order. And waited. And waited. It took over 15 minutes to get my order. Unwrapping my midnight taco, I discovered a generic-looking taquito with bright-yellow scrambled eggs that clearly came from an egg mixture (not fresh eggs), processed American cheese, and chopped up hashbrowns that had been frozen prior to being deep-fried. Despite all of this, it was pretty good. The eggs were fluffy, the potatoes crispy, and the cheese extra-gooey. I drizzled the packet of generic picante sauce on top for a tiny bit of spice. For a late-night snack, this was a tasty little treat.
As I drove to Taco Cabana, I actually felt a little sorry for Whataburger. Though the Cabana is certainly not authentic, it's usually fairly fresh-tasting and one of my favorite drive-thru options. I was quite sure it would kick Whataburger's ass when it came to tacos; after all, it has "taco" in its name. The taco here totaled a more reasonable $1.44. It came out in less than five minutes and was steaming hot through its foil packaging. It was a little smaller, but still a hearty midnight snack nevertheless. Also, the tortilla appeared thick and doughy, the eggs looked like eggs, the cheese seemed like real shredded cheddar, and the potatoes were actually skillet-fried, diced-up potatoes with skin. Again, I felt pity for the orange and white competitor from across the way.
Everything changed with the first bite, though. Though this taco seemed more homemade, it lacked salt, which pretty much killed it on impact since there were no salt or pepper packets in the takeout bag. The doughy tortilla was undercooked and soggy. The salsa that accompanied the taco had the consistency of water and further detracted from the limp mess that they called a taco. I wanted to like the Taco Cabana version, but I ended up throwing it away after just three bites.
While the best breakfast tacos I've found are either from my kitchen or a handful of authentic taquerias dotted around our great city, sometimes those are simply not options. If you find yourself wanting a cheap, quick imitation, my suggestion is to head to Whataburger.
Get the Dining Newsletter
The week's top local food news and events, plus interviews with chefs and restaurant owners, dining tips, and a peek at our print review.