The Origins and Anatomy of the Texas Staple By Laurel Randolph
When you hear the word breakfast, the first thing that comes to mind might be pancakes, cereal, or eggs and toast. Or it might be that energy bar you scarfed down on the way to work yesterday. But if you live in the southern half of Texas, chances are the word that popped into your head was “tacos!”
Breakfast tacos are a staple dish in Tex-Mex country, with their popularity spreading nationwide thanks to tourism. Festivals such as South by Southwest have exposed food lovers from around the country to the iconic dish, and restaurants in cities outside Texas now offer breakfast tacos on their morning menu.
The Origins of Breakfast Tacos
Tacos have long been eaten for breakfast in Mexico, but there’s nothing especially breakfast-y about them outside of the time of day. You can enjoy the same tacos at lunch or dinner, frequently consisting of fresh tortillas topped with a filling of meaty stew. It wasn’t until the rise of Tex-Mex that breakfast tacos became a thing—and now they are the thing.
While most out-of-towners assume the dish originates from the dynamic Austin food scene, it likely started further south and spread north. The exact origins are unknown, but the phrase “breakfast tacos” began to appear in San Antonio and Rio Grande Valley newspapers in the 1950s and 60s. They can now be found throughout southern Texas in restaurants and cafes, and at roadside stands and food trucks.