Brazos Abiertos: Houston in the Texas Breakfast Taco Civil War

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It’s Super Tuesday. Campaign workers have been up for hours already, driving precinct to precinct, putting up signs. Poll workers plugged in computers, unrolled I Voted stickers, and started setting up the big voting roll books.

And it is safe to say that on this very important morning, the breakfast taco was where they turned for sustenance.* It seemed important, therefore, to reflect on the recent breakfast brouhaha, which started to bubble up at the end of January.

Few on the internet noticed the tweet that presaged the drama to come:

Sedacca, allegedly a Texan, reported on his conversations with Walsh and the owners of several Austin restaurants, in an article entitled: How Austin Became the Home of the Crucial Breakfast Taco. 

Walsh never credits Austin with inventing the breakfast taco. He does credit South by Southwest as the conduit that carried the breakfast taco from Austin to places like Los Angeles and Brooklyn.

But Sedacca painted with a pretty broad brush, and predictably, San Antonio came out swinging with a torrent of social media polemics and even a petition calling for Sedacca’s exile from Texas.

Seems reasonable.

Austin had egg on its face, but like an ΣΑΕ after a few too many, the city doubled down. Mayor Adler surprised a group of volunteers who came together to do something totally different, and conscripted them:

“The city of Austin is currently at war with San Antonio over a subject that I know we all hold dear in our hearts. That, of course, is breakfast tacos. Now some may look out at you and see 1,500 shining examples of volunteerism and virtue, but I see something greater. I see our army in a war against San Antonio. As your commander in chief for the Breakfast Taco War, it is my solemn duty to inform you that after you have selflessly given of yourselves, I will be drafting you into the Great Breakfast Taco War of 2016.”

Austin seems like the last place for a draft to go over very well, but stranger things have happened.

I know that what everyone has really been wondering is where Houston stands on breakfast tacos. After all, Austin may be the 11th largest city in the country, and San Antonio the 7th, but Houston is 4th. And if you calculate winners the way GOP primary observers do, 4th is pretty much 1st. 

Before we get to breakfast, let’s remind ourselves that Houston does its own thing. And we usually do it pretty damn well.

Nobody disputes, for example that Ninfa Laurenzo popularized the fajita.


And it was a little old band from Houston that showed the world just what to expect when you order a combo plate:

tres hombres album

So, rather than take sides, Houston would like to remind you of what we contributed to the Tex-Mex breakfast canon.

The Breakfast Burrito.™

Call it a travesty. Call it fast food. Sneer if you will.

But call it a Houston original.

Dominic and Nelly Quijano debuted the breakfast burrito at their McDonald’s franchise on Harrisburg, deep in Houston’s East End. They became McDonald’s super-stars for their invention.

The breakfast burrito is, in many ways, the essence of Houston. We love our taco stands, our taco trucks, and our neighborhood pandarias with steam tables. We want you to love them, too. But Houston also welcomes all comers, rewards innovation, and cheers when someone else has a success, because their success is ours, too.

So, Houston won’t be picking a side in the Texas Breakfast Taco Civil War. We’re the kind of city that likes to make the pie higher for everyone.

Don’t get me wrong. Plenty of Houstonians, as individuals, will pick sides, and we’ll support their right to do so. We’ll cheer as they pack their rucksacks and their dog-earred copies of Hemingway novels, and live out their fantasies of being potato-egg-and-cheese-fueled Rough Riders.

In the meantime, when we can’t hit the neighborhood joints, we’ll raise a pickled jalepeño to the Quijanos and drive thru for a quick fix.

Live! Love! And make breakfast, not war, people!


*It is possible that some campaign workers opted for donuts, not breakfast tacos, in which case, SHIPLEY’S 4EVAH.




About Author

Andrea Greer

Andrea, an activist, fundraiser, feminist, writer, and baker, is not as tall as you think she is. She's been at this a long time, and wants to know what you are doing to make the pie higher and raise more hell. Her mother would like you to know she's got a law degree.

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