Our 2013 Best of Houston® winners were announced awhile back, but in many cases, picking the best item in any category was no easy task. In order to show off all the culinary greatness Houston has to offer, we're continuing to round up the "rest of the best" in some of our favorite categories. Bon appétit!
Chicago has deep-dish pizza. Philadelphia has cheesesteak. Boston has baked beans. New York has coneys and slices and all sorts of other goodies. Kansas City has barbecue. So does Memphis. And Lockhart.
And Houston has...well...burgers? No. Brisket? Not exclusively? Fajitas? Yes, but they're so universal now...
Wait. BREAKFAST TACOS.
If there's one food that Houston does better than anywhere else (sorry, Austin), it's the breakfast taco. We are wild about dem eggs and meat in a tortilla first thing in the morning. In any neighborhood and -- thankfully -- just about any time of day, you can get yourself a fine breakfast taco, often with atomically hot homemade salsa to go with it.
Who needs deep-dish pizza or coneys? We have breakfast tacos, baby, and we're damn proud of it.
Here are the best of the best in town.
Honorable Burrito Mention: Taco Nuts This funky food truck isn't usually open for breakfast, but there's a burrito on the menu that lends itself perfectly to the most important meal of the day: The "Legend of the Olmecs." Yeah, the name means nothing. Here's what's in it: French fries, two fried eggs, Fritos, your choice of pork, beef or chicken and all of Taco Nuts's salsas combined. It's wrapped in a 15-inch tortilla that miraculously holds all that great stuff without becoming soggy. Rather than being called breakfast, though, it should probably just be called "meal." You won't be hungry the rest of the day.
10. Taco Palenque Taco Palenque has a drive-through and locations all over Texas, but it's hardly in the same realm as a typical fast-food chain restaurant. Unlike some Tex-Mex fast-food joints (coughTacoBellcough), Taco Palenque makes all its tortillas fresh in-house, and the brightly colored homemade salsas fill up a bar in the center of the restaurant, perfect for milling about and tasting while you wait for your order. Oh, and did we mention the breakfast tacos are huge? HUGE.
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9. El Rey Taqueria This Mexican-Cuban hybrid also boasts a drive-through for breakfast on-the-go, as well as an excellent selection of coffee drinks (by that we mean more than basic black coffee, which is all that many taco joints have). A small coffee and a basic breakfast taco will set you back only $3.50, but why not go big or go home and combine the Mexican egg taco with tomatoes, onions and jalapeños mixed into the eggs with a chorizo taco for an even heartier meal? Extra toppings are only 25¢ each, so mix and match and delight in the fact that a smear of refried pinto beans comes on every taco for free.
8. Doña Maria Though flour seems to be the norm for breakfast tacos in Houston, Doña Maria is known for its corn tortillas, which are thick and substantial -- none of those flimsy, fall-apart corn tortillas here! The simple chorizo and egg tacos are the way to go here, as the chorizo is perfectly seasoned and never greasy. It's good the chorizo is spicy, though, because the salsas are pretty mild, unlike at other taco joints that seem to aspire to create the hottest hot sauce ever known to man. Check out Doña Maria for the unique tortillas and delicious chorizo.
7. Laredo Taqueria There's pretty much always a line for breakfast tacos at Laredo Taqueria, but that's just because they're so damn good. The line moves quickly, though, ensuring you'll get your handmade flour tortilla with a smear of beans and egg and chorizo mix in no time at all. The green salsa adds an extra jolt to the already flavorful tacos (thanks, lard), and even though each is only $2, they're mighty filling (shoutout to lard there, too). Laredo Taqueria opens at 6 a.m. every day and even serves barbacoa for breakfast, if you're not a bacon or chorizo fan.
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6. Tacos A Go-Go Many places that serve breakfast tacos serve them only during the morning or until they run out. Tacos A Go-Go makes breakfast tacos all day long and as late as 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday at both locations. Each taco is $1.89 (plus tax) and comes with eggs and your choice of two items, many of which you won't find at more authentic, hole-in-the-wall taco joints. Those seeking a healthy option (healthy for a breakfast taco, that is) like the mushroom and spinach, while traditionalists can still get their chorizo and cheese combo late into the night.
5. El Ultimo This is where to find Tex-Mex guru Robb Walsh's favorite breakfast taco -- or at least it was his favorite back when he wrote about it in 2010. El Ultimo has moved from its once-designated spot at the corner of Long Point Road and Antoine since then to a new corner at Long Point and Jacquelyn, but the great tacos don't seem to have changed. Neither has the menu, which still offers jamón (ham), tocino (bacon), papa (potatoes), nopales (cactus), machacado (shredded beef), salchicha (hot dog) or chorizo in a handmade corn or flour tortilla.
4. Chilosos Taco House Chilosos is the place for tortillas -- the thickest, most flavorful flour tortillas ever to envelop eggs and meat. There's corn available, too, but flour is king here. Go local with the fillings by ordering eggs and Chappell Hill sausage, produced in the tiny town of Chappell Hill between Houston and Brenham, or go guilty pleasure with the combo of scrambled eggs and good ol' Jimmy Dean. Each taco is $1.75 (plus tax) for two fixin's, but you can add on extras like cilantro and beans for a small fee. Oh, and did we mention the tortillas?
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3. Taqueria La Macro This cute, modern taqueria just north of downtown takes call-in and to-go orders for its breakfast tacos, but that's not the only reason we love La Macro. Owner Saul Obregon is always present with a warm smile, his staff ready to dish out heaps of chorizo (or potato if you're vegetarian) and eggs into hot, fluffy flour tortillas that never get gummy or tough. The tortillas are made fresh every day, and unlike many places that pre-mix eggs and proteins, Taqueria La Macro prepares each order as it comes in, cooking the chorizo and scrambling the eggs before your eyes. And those house-made green and red salsas don't mess around; they'll wake you up more than any cup of coffee could ever hope to.
2. Brothers Taco House If you want breakfast tacos in a hurry, Brothers Taco House, a modest but brightly colored restaurant on Dowling, is your best bet. Early in the morning, there's often a line, but it moves fast because all the egg, meat and veggie mixtures are already prepared and sitting in chafing dishes, ready to be spooned out into fresh, fluffy flour tortillas. Monday was Brothers Taco House's 11th anniversary, and when you try the tacos, it's not hard to understand how it has achieved longevity in a fickle business. From the simple chorizo and egg to the more adventuresome lengua or chicharrón (yes, both breakfast offerings), you can't go wrong with a large taco and a side of citrusy green salsa.
1. Tacos Tierra Caliente These are the cheapest breakfast tacos in town, and also the best. For only $1 (no tax), you get a thick, fluffy flour tortilla packed with the only option Tacos Tierra Caliente provides: Eggs, bacon, ham and chorizo. No mixing and matching. What they make is what you get, and what they make at this unassuming but wildly popular taco truck across the street from West Alabama Ice House has become the stuff of legend in Houston. The breakfast tacos, served until 11:30 a.m., have a slight griddle flavor from the meat and eggs that are cooked to well done somewhere in the dark recesses of the truck. That toasty-ness is what many love about the tacos, though. That, and the numbingly spicy green and red salsas that seem prepared specifically to express Tacos Tierra Caliente's morning goal: Are you awake yet? Now you are!