Transplanted Texan Discovers Breakfast Tacos in New York City
While many New Yorkers are in my old hometown of Austin for South by Southwest enjoying the hippest hipster scene outside of Brooklyn, I've discovered the most important thing they'll want to know when they get home: Where can they service that newly acquired breakfast taco addiction once they're back in the Big Apple?
When I moved to the East Village six months ago, I knew I’d be leaving a lot of things behind, and I thought breakfast tacos would be one of them. But after a bit of searching, I found this was not the case at all. I enlisted my born-and-raised Austin boyfriend to trek with me through the city on a hunt for the breakfast taco that most reminded us of home. If anyone knows what makes a good breakfast taco, it’s this guy.
My journey started in Brooklyn. BrisketTown is located right on the uber hipster Bedford Avenue. I had heard through the grapevine that the joint has recently started serving breakfast tacos with Brussels sprouts in them. As a Brussels sprout fanatic, I had high hopes that this taco would transport me to breakfast heaven. And it did. Even my carnivore of a boyfriend agreed. Austin, take note. Roasted Brussels sprouts and were meant to commingle with taco fillings in a flour tortilla.
We also gave their brisket taco a try because brisket is what BrisketTown is known for, but as I expected, the flavor of the brisket was much too overpowering. Don’t get me wrong, I love barbeque (I’m from Texas after all!), but in my opinion, brisket was never meant to be eaten in a breakfast taco. Let’s save that for warm summer nights in the Texas Hill Country, accompanied by an ice-cold beer.
The Brussels sprout taco put me in a good mood, so Whirlybird a couple blocks away was really going to have to wow me to get my attention. The small café has only one breakfast taco on the menu. It boasts a hodgepodge of ingredients such as chorizo, jalapeño potato chips, Oaxaca cheese, and homemade salsa. And while it was certainly unique, Whirlybird’s take on the Austin classic just didn’t do it for me. The jalapeño potato chips felt like they were added on purely for the sake of originality.
A quick hop onto the J train brought us back to Manhattan. Essex Street Market, a small but lovely indoor market, houses Brooklyn Taco Co. Why Brooklyn Taco Co. is in Manhattan I have no idea, but I had little time to mull that over. Another breakfast taco was calling my name. Like Whirlybird, they only have one breakfast taco, but this one was divine.
Their version is simple: a corn tortilla is filled with egg, chorizo, cheese, potatoes, and poblano peppers, topped with crema. As I took my first bite, I almost felt like I was back in Austin. The ingredients were fresh, and though the taco was definitely one of the simplest ones I had, it did not skimp on flavor. Plus, the two men working that day were extremely friendly - a trait that seems to be a rarity in New York City.
My last stop was Downtown Bakery in the East Village. Though this bakery may not be the most attractive to look at, it certainly houses some pretty amazing Mexican food. Each order comes with two tacos. Filled with egg, spinach, onion, jack cheese, and refried black beans, the white corn tortillas that housed my veggie breakfast taco tasted exactly like what I’ve had at TacoDeli back home in the ATX. I looked up at my boyfriend and smiled, I had found exactly what I was looking for, a breakfast taco that reminded me of home, and who would have thought that it would be right there in my new neighborhood? Whenever I’m feeling homesick, look no further than Downtown Bakery to find me.
359 Bedford Ave, Williamsburg, Brooklyn
254 South 2nd Street, Brooklyn
Brooklyn Taco Co.
120 Essex St, New York, NY
69 1st Ave New York, NY