Breakfast Tacos: Taste What You're Missing, America

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Restaurant owners are growing increasingly excited about the prospects for breakfast pizza, but breakfast tacos don't show any signs of making significant inroads nationally.

Breakfast pizza is typically a tomato sauce-less concoction of eggs, cheese and meat -- sort of like a breakfast taco unrolled and flattened. According to a new report in Nation's Restaurant News, breakfast pizza didn't show up on any menus analyzed in 2009 by Technomic, a food industry research firm. In 2010, the survey turned up a dozen breakfast pizzas at independent and chain restaurants. Analysts consider that figure indicative of a national trend.

And pizza isn't the only breakfast item to shimmy its way into the spotlight: Scrambled eggs, egg and cheese sandwiches and oatmeal were all listed on at least 30 percent more menus in 2010 than 2009.

"Breakfast has been a bright spot lately in the restaurant business -- often a source of growth when other dayparts have shrunk," Nation's Restaurant News concludes.

But breakfast tacos didn't crack the list of the 10 fastest-growing morning foods, an oversight that mystifies Maple & Motor's Jack Perkins.

"We've done well with them," Perkins says. "I don't know why tacos wouldn't go everywhere."

Perkins added breakfast tacos to his menu for the same reason most restaurant owners are suddenly keen on breakfast: "We were already spending time there prepping, so we wanted to do something that would make money," he says.

Perkins hasn't advertised his breakfast tacos, which are served on tortillas made in-house. "We don't want to get slammed," he explains. "If I put out a sign that says breakfast, we'd get pounded." Word's gotten around anyhow, and a number of nearby businesses order hundreds of tacos a week for their workers.

Perkins wonders if breakfast tacos might be more popular beyond Texas if eaters could settle on a single name for the wrap. He's heard customers refer to his sandwiches as burritos and taquitos, which is what Whataburger calls its soft flour tortillas filled with scrambled eggs and bacon, sausage or potatoes. When Taco Bell last year debuted a trial breakfast menu in Tucson, it referred to its egg and potato breakfast tacos as roll-ups.

Whatever the name, Maple & Motor's breakfast tacos have been brisk sellers. But Perkins is most excited about a newer breakfast item that's likely years away from being noticed by Technomic.

"We wrap sausage and egg or sausage and bacon in an American-style pancake and serve it with a side of syrup," he says. "It's really, really good. I think it could be a game changer."

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