Alex Nham travels the globe, mainly the part with Dallas on it, in search of new places to eat breakfast.
In my search for Dallas' more interesting morning meals, tacos are the one obvious breakfast genre I have yet to explore. It's not that I don't eat them; I eat them by the pound. But that's the point: They're everywhere. I didn't know where to start.
So, drawing inspiration from Scott's brisket taco hunt, I went searching for some of the city's best cheap breakfast tacos. This is what I found.
I went to five different places and ordered the same thing at each, for comparison's sake: one bacon-and-egg taco, one chorizo-and-egg taco. All tacos were served on flour tortillas, and I used only house salsas as condiments.
And no, I didn't complete this in one day. I thought about doing that, but in the end I figured it would be easier to write this without the stents in my arteries.
Fuel Town gas station taqueria at Inwood and 35
After venturing inside the gas station and putting in my order, I took over a window booth in the makeshift dining room. There wasn't much to look at -- the highway and patrons fueling up to my right, a beer case pyramid to my left. Served open inside a small Styrofoam to-go box, the tortillas were filled to capacity with the respective meat mixtures. The chorizo and egg filling was crisp, not the wet mess I'm often disappointed by. Large chunks of bacon scrambled with eggs composed the filling for the other taco. Both were meaty and laced with a hint of grease that coated my lips after each bite. The green salsa that was tucked in with the tacos was tart, smoky and spicy. At $3.20 for the pair, this was a steal, a textbook example of what breakfast tacos should be.
Luna's Tortillas This tortilleria on Harry Hines not only churns out tortillas daily (the factory dominates the building), but they're also selling food out of a kitchen in the back. There's a large counter in the rear where you can order tamales and tortillas in mass quantities, and the only tacos you can get here are breakfast tacos. While waiting for my tacos I spun around and got a good look at the tortilla factory plugging away.
The tacos came rolled up like taquitos, wrapped in parchment paper, then foil. The tight binding squeezed out some moisture from the fillings, with only the fresh flour tortilla to soak it up, leaving that tortilla soggy and my hands wet. The tacos were mediocre, definitely built for convenience over enjoyment. I didn't even notice the red salsa buried in the bag with the tacos until halfway through my meal, and with the mess already on my hands; I didn't even want to bother. The two tacos cost $3.25, and only desperation would lead me back.
El Tacaso Another gas station taqueria stuffed into a small cube in Friendly's Grocery. You can order from the small window out front, but since it was raining, I again opted for the half door inside. The "restaurant" consists of a flat-top grill and a change tray from a cash register, all stuffed inside a space no larger than a bathroom. There was no where to sit, so I stood, waiting; the only other patron was a cop, a good sign. Those guys can eat.
The tacos were cooked to order and served open, almost too hot to handle coming straight from the flat top. The chorizo was the best of the chorizo-and-egg tacos I sampled. The filling was overrun with chorizo, cooked so that there were plenty of crispy bits to enjoy. The eggs had a beautiful orange appearance, stained from the grease rendered out of the chorizo. The tortilla was packed so full that chorizo and egg kept falling out of the back end of the taco, and the fiery roasted orange salsa that accompanied the tacos was packed a punch.
The bacon in the other taco was actually Canadian bacon, an interesting twist (intentional or not), but I think I'll stick with the belly. Although they were heavy in my stomach, they were light on my wallet -- only $2.50 for the pair.
El Paisa Four hundred feet from El Tacaso sits El Paisa. I pulled up to the small brick house and, instead of trying to work the backward drive thru, parked and dined in. It was early on a Saturday morning and the restaurant was already packed. The most Americanized of the five stops, El Paisa retains its authenticity by offering tripas, lengua and pozole. The bacon-and-egg taco here was the only one that was not scrambled together; instead, a strip of bacon was wedged into the tortilla on top of a heap of eggs. I prefer an amalgam of meat and eggs, where you can't tell where one starts and the other ends.
The chorizo-and-egg taco was the better of the two, with some heat distributed throughout. The filling was not a sopping mess, but it was missing that crisp texture. Most economical of all the stops, the two tacos set me back $2.36. But I'd rather go down the street and pay an extra fourteen cents.
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SHOW ME HOW
La Tejanita La Tejanita was offered up by taco guru José Ralat-Maldonado. In the shadow of the big blue Flash Mart, La Tejanita is serving an extensive menu with all the favorites (including nopales). Although I faced an electronic gaming center and a whole wall of booze as I ate, La Tejanita is the most restaurant-like of all the gas station taquerias, with a comparatively luxurious kitchen and plenty of seating. There was nothing to complain about between the two breakfast tacos: the bacon bits were large and meaty, and the chorizo was savory and well spiced. The soft flour tortillas made these tacos my favorite of all the candidates.
Red and green salsas were served in large squeeze bottles rather than small disposable cups -- worthy condiments for exceptional tacos. The two tacos were $3.62, but prepare to spend more because you'll want to eat everything on the menu.
This is obviously just a short survey from a city that offers a full semester's worth of taco hunting. Hours of eating wouldn't get you close to breakfast-taco mastery. But I feel a little closer, and hopefully you do, too. If not, you know what to do.