Rusty Tacos Is a Fine Wake-Up Call

Not enough is written about breakfast tacos in Dallas. That's regrettable given that, like barbecue, breakfast tacos are a hallmark of the state's foodways, something so uniquely Texan that after my initial visits after marrying a D/FW native, I scoured the streets of New York in search of the ideal means of starting the day. (Saturday mornings aren't Saturday mornings without my wife's chorizo, eggs and cheese tacos.) I failed all those many years ago.

Rusty Taco, a polarizing taco shop in a repurposed gas station, serves excellent breakfast tacos, performing magic tricks with ingredients most muck up. The tuberous cubes in the potato and egg option have crispy outsides that snap lightly between the teeth. It's notable that something I always apply to a potato and egg taco is salt. The version at Rusty Taco needs no such extra seasoning. It's spot on.

The bacon in the bacon and egg was -- wait for it -- actually cooked properly. The strips of belly meat were crunchy strata with alternating hues; the curls of fat had bounce. Eating one of those tacos does not run you the risk of food poisoning from undercooked pork.

The three cross-sections of jalapeño breakfast sausage around which eggs were folded in the next taco also had snap. It lacked the kick expected from meat with a pepper in its name. Still, as far as breakfast sausages go, I was pleased.

The chorizo had the heat I wished was present in the links. That became a conflagration when I squeezed a generous amount of the habanero salsa onto the filling. The refreshing Cherry Coke from the gazillion-flavor-option Coca-Cola machine inside eased the mouth fire.

All the breakfast tacos were topped with shredded orange cheese that slowly melted while I sat at one of the picnic tables on the side patio. The saltiness of the cheese certainly contributed to my ignorance of the saltshaker I later realized had been in front of me during the meal.

Of course, there were some unfortunate issues. The only quibbles I have with the tacos are the tortillas and the superficial gripe that the new non-breakfast fried chicken taco wasn't available before 11 a.m. The latter is reason enough to return. As for the hard-edge tortillas, they're still better than the industrial discs used at Good 2 Go Tacos, even if the SoCo (a hearty Southern breakfast, gravy and biscuit included, in a tortilla) at the East Dallas specialty shop is a lusty, heart-stopping item that makes the angels sing and the knees of Lakewood health nuts buckle.

These are minor complaints when compared with the triumph in the fillings, not to mention the success of the Greenville restaurant. Owner Rusty Fenton recently franchised the brand to a businessman in Minnesota. That gentleman, Bruce Ringgenberg and his general manager, Josh Epple, have curried initial favor with residents of the Twin Cities and beyond. (In five days, the second location's Facebook page acquired 150 fans.) All of this was before the original outpost's first anniversary, to be celebrated this Saturday with live music, a bevy of SMU students (among the restaurant's biggest fans) and tacos.

Now, I just got to get a fried chicken taco.

Rusty Taco 4802 Greenville Ave. 214-613-0508

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José Ralat Maldonado