Welcome to the home of the Mexican breakfast
The quality and diversity of Mexican food in Austin is a great source of civic pride, and going out for a hearty plate of migas and tortillas is a time-honored local tradition. From the Forties through the early Seventies, the go-to Mexican breakfast spot was the venerable Cisco's Restaurant in East Austin, well-loved by generations of UT football heroes and frat boys as well as local, state, and national power brokers. (That landmark is still open and still has a loyal clientele.) The mid-Seventies and early Eighties saw a rise in popularity for the original (and long-gone) Casita Jorge's on Elmont as a favorite breakfast location. By the late Eighties, sisters Cynthia and Lidia Perez had opened a breakfast-and-lunch cafe in an old diner on the city's main thoroughfare, and the Las Manitas era was born. Las Manitas became known as the de rigueur Downtown breakfast destination for local and state politicians, community activists, artists, musicians, and regular visitors to South by Southwest. It was so popular with Festival participants that daily lines around the block were the rule as people completed their annual pilgrimage to the beloved eatery. Las Manitas is just a memory now, the victim of corporate greed and a failed hotel deal. But the loss of a favorite restaurant hasn't dampened folks' ardor for Mexican breakfasts, and several worthy contenders fill the void. To help our out-of-town guests make some informed dining choices, Chronicle contributors Mick Vann, Claudia Alarcón, Kate Thornberry, Rachel Feit, and I disclose our nominations for pilgrimageworthy Mexican breakfast spots, and Alarcón has created a primer on the dishes you're likely to find.
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