Follow this Houston breakfast taco tour for morning bliss

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A good breakfast taco will embrace your soul with a fresh flour tortilla, nourish your body with deliciously fluffy eggs, conquer your hunger with your protein or veggie of choice, and kick-start your day with a perfectly spicy salsa.


In the great state of Texas, most people mention San Antonio and Austin as the breakfast taco champions. I’ve eaten my fair share of them in both cities, and I agree that they deserve high praise, but Houston has earned a mention in that conversation.

Anyone who has visited either of the three Laredo Taqueria locations after a long night of desmadre knows what I’m talking about. The breakfast tacos at Brothers Taco House in East Downtown are one of the few things I will stand in a long line for. And the “a la Mexicana” versions from La Guadalupana in Montrose have definitely saved my life once or eighty times.

Remembering breakfast tacos after mass


After working out of town for 10 days, my craving for a good Houston breakfast taco was at an all-time high this week. I ventured to one of my old favorites in El Northside, Alamo Tamale Company.

As a kid, Alamo was my family’s first stop after mass on Sundays. My mom preferred to attend the early 9 a.m. mass at Saint Charles Borromeo on Tidwell, which meant that by 10:05 a.m., you could find little Marco in line at Alamo with Dad From Houston—as my father is known—as my mom waited in the car.

My family’s order usually included one or two pounds of barbacoa, a stack of fresh flour tortillas, and a variety of breakfast tacos ranging from papas a la Mexicana, chicharrón en salsa verde, and sometimes carnitas. The original location was a small room adjacent to the tamale and tortilla factory, a few blocks west of the current locale near the corner of Berry Road and Irvington Boulevard.
 
The lines are still long after all these years, although now I’d rather wake up early and hit their new drive-thru for a quick meal. And so I did. A delightful employee named Sylvia served me with a warm smile, apologizing that the papa con huevo wasn’t available yet because it was still cooking. She said the most popular taco at Alamo was probably the chorizo con huevo, which I devoured in their parking lot.

Breakfast tacos at Cochinita & Co. include nopales and chorizo.

Breakfast tacos at Cochinita & Co. include nopales and chorizo.

Marco Torres

Chorizo won an informal Instagram poll where I asked my followers about their favorite breakfast tacos. Mexican chorizo is typically made with spicy, coarsely ground or minced pork that has been seasoned with a variety of chiles and other spices. The meat is cut open from its casing and fried in a pan, then cooked into a scramble with eggs.

Expanding my breakfast taco horizons

For my second stop on this mini breakfast taco tour, I headed somewhere less familiar to me: Tortilleria Tlaxcali in southeast Houston. This awesome little tortilla factory near Gulfgate Mall is hard to miss, as the bright green and yellow exterior serves as a beacon for every taco lover that passes by. As I walked in, I was met with a wall of amazing scents, a mixture of the masa from the tortillas, the guisados simmering in containers, and the fresh coffee from the pots along the windows.

Owner Marcela Portillo was hard at work greeting customers, serving tacos, working the cash register, and running food from the kitchen to the counter. She immediately noticed that I was a new face and not one of her regulars, and began to win me over by going through the litany of offerings available.

Portillo poured a generous spoonful of frijoles a la charra in a bowl topped with cilantro for me to taste. The steaming broth was spicy and flavorful, and the beans came with cueritos de puerco and small slices of salchicha. She also handed me two fresh corn tortillas that reminded me of the ones I used to eat at my grandmother’s house back in Matamoros.

Portillo is also from the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, specifically Ciudad Mante farther south. Her vast culinary knowledge and love for her customers are evident in her food. Her tortillas are made with organic masa devoid of additives or preservatives. The tacos are packed with flavor, with large portions atop each tortilla, much to the delight of every guest who files into Tlaxcali every morning on their way to work.

I enjoy three more tacos: a really spicy huevo con salsa de arbol, a papas con chorizo and a barbacoa taco. After I paid for my breakfast, Portilla said “Hasta la próxima”—she already knew she had secured my future business, probably evident by my wide smile and now-I-need-a-nap eyes.

Three taqueras crushing it in the East End

But I decided to make one last stop on my breakfast taco adventure. With Cochinita & Co. in the East End, chef Victoria Elizondo has found a home inside Kickin’ Kombucha, where she serves everything from chilaquiles to tamales, salads, tostadas, mole, elote, and more, made by her mother Graciela Elizondo and her long-time cook Enedina Hernandez.

Graciela was born and raised in China, Nuevo Leon, halfway between Reynosa and Monterrey. As early as age 11, she remembers being in the kitchen helping her mother make tortillas and cooking for her family. Hernandez is from San Luis Potosi, and recalls a similar experience.

Enedina Hernandez (left), Victoria Elizondo (center) and her mother Graciela Elizondo are behind the acclaimed Cochinita & Co. in Houston.

Enedina Hernandez (left), Victoria Elizondo (center) and her mother Graciela Elizondo are behind the acclaimed Cochinita & Co. in Houston.

Marco Torres

Cochinita’s motto is “fresco es mejor.” You won’t find containers of pre-made eggs in their kitchen: Every taco is made to order, with freshly cracked eggs and your favorite meat or veggie selection, each ingredient locally sourced and of the highest quality. Although Cochinita’s tortillas aren’t made in-house, Victoria buys the flour tortillas from El Bolillo Bakery, and the nixtamal corn tortillas from a factory in San Marcos, Texas.

Chef Victoria is proud of what she’s accomplished at Cochinita, which turns 6 years old next month. She began cooking at pop-ups with a small griddle under a tent, and was later part of the short-lived Politan Row dining hall in Rice Village. She also has a food truck, Cochi’s Taqueria, which will be serving tacos at the new Todos Santos bar opening on Washington Avenue this weekend.

I feast on a variety of breakfast tacos—fresh avocado, crispy bacon, bright red chorizo, all with egg. Other options include nopales and papas, as well as vegan chorizo and refried beans. Victoria’s personal favorite is weenies con huevo, which isn’t on the menu yet, but might make an appearance in the future.

Houstonians can enjoy many other forms of breakfast tacos, like carne guisada, machacado con huevo, migas tacos—really, any taco can be a breakfast taco if you’re hungry enough. So let Austin and San Antonio fight for the breakfast taco crown, we all know Houston is ready to snatch that off their head at any moment.

Alamo Tamale Company

Find it: 809 Berry Rd, Houston, TX 77022; (713) 692-6363
Hours: Monday-Wednesday 6 a.m.-3 p.m.; Thursday-Sunday 6 a.m.-4 p.m.

Cochinita & Co.

Find it: 5420 Lawndale St #500, Houston, TX 77023; (713) 203-3999
Hours: Monday-Friday 6:30 a.m.-9 p.m.; Saturday 8 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sunday 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

Tortilleria Tlaxcali

Find it: 4667 Telephone Rd, Houston, TX 77087; (713) 645-1920
Hours: Monday-Saturday 4 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sunday 4 a.m.-6 p.m.



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