Machaca Fresh from the Source: Los Corrales

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If you've ever enjoyed machacado con huevo for breakfast in Houston, you've probably had machaca from Los Corrales. The family-run factory in the East End has been producing only two products since 1990: dried beef and shredded dried beef, both interchangeably referred to as machaca.

Los Corrales distributes its dried beef throughout the state, although it's primarily found in Houston. And although you can pick up a few packets of the stuff yourself at stores like Mi Tienda or La Michoacan, it's more fun to eat it straight from the source.

Like a butcher shop with a burger joint attached to it, Los Corrales -- the subject of this week's cafe review -- has a tiny restaurant add-on where you can eat its machaca in a variety of dishes: machacado con huevo, of course, but also classics like aporreado and caldo norteño.

It's these Tex-Mex classics I love best, dishes rarely seen in Houston anymore in the same way that beans made with lard are also going the way of the dodo. (Yes, Los Corrales makes its beans with lard, but in the best possible way.) The little canteen attached to the factory opens each morning at 6:30 a.m. for breakfast -- every day except Sunday -- and stays open through lunch, although it's breakfasts that are the busiest and with good reason.

In addition to making its own lovely, lardy beans and its own machaca, Los Corrales also makes its own flour tortillas in house. You can watch them being made through a glass window onto the kitchen while you wait for your food, and you can even grab a dozen or two to take home with you.

The tortillas are best utilized in that breakfast classic, machacado con huevo. Scoop a few fluffy spoonfuls of the stuff into a couple of hot tortillas -- and I do mean hot -- and drizzle it with some of Los Corrales' homemade salsa, a mild blend that's more tomatillo than jalapeño-based. Wash it all down with a cup of black coffee and you'll have had one of the most brilliantly basic and beautiful breakfasts in Houston.

And since Los Corrales has been doing breakfasts this way for at least the last decade, you can even brag to your friends that the East End factory has been SLGT'ing since long before it was cool. If that doesn't give the place some hipster cred, I don't know what does.

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