Dear Glutton: Breakfast Finds

Get adventurous with your first meal of the day

Elizabeth Street
Elizabeth Street (Photo by John Anderson)

Dear Glutton,

A friend and I have a tradition of getting together on weekday mornings before work for an early breakfast. This year, we decided we'd be adventurous and try some new places. But this town seems to be all about late rising and brunch, and we have been having a hard time finding alternatives. Any suggestions for an early bird?

– No Worms, Please

Hey There Early,

Adult friendships are super weird and hard, right? Between working and dating and hobbies and whatever other adult things people are supposed to do (Going to the gym, I think? Paying taxes? IDK I'm still figuring it out.), it's hard to find time to, you know, just chill and be a person. It's surprising to me, actually, how hard it can be to prioritize keeping a hold on your humanity while trying to be a success, doing all the things you're supposed to do. Sometimes it's hard to find the time to just sit back and do nothing, shoot the shit with someone you like. Not networking. Not having a morning meeting. Just hanging out. Any activity that gives you more time to build your community and surround yourself with supportive people can't, I think, be a bad thing. So good work on those breakfast hangs. Now let's find you guys something to eat.

Assuming you're committed to staying away from worms, my personal favorite early morning breakfast spot is Joe's Bakery & Mexican Food, a classic Eastside Tex-Mex diner where you can get A+ migas. The chorizo tacos are also above reproach – greasy and crisped on an ancient griddle and blanketed in soft-cooked egg. The waitresses will give you too much coffee and call you sweetheart, and might help you out with the crossword if you ask nicely enough. It's convivial and laid-back, and no one will give you side eye if you linger over your empty plate, or bring your own hot sauce along in your purse (which, come on, is pretty much an essential for most diner breakfasts. None of this Tabasco nonsense, thank you). You can even stop by their in-house bakery to pick up a few conchas for your lazier co-workers if you're feeling nice.

But, since you said you're looking to be a little adventurous, I'd encourage you to step outside your traditional bacon-and-eggs breakfast bubble, and try one of Austin's more exotic breakfast options. When I lived in Saigon, I got used to slurping down noodles of spicy Bún bò Hu for breakfast, and still believe that soup is a criminally underrated way to start the day. Elizabeth Street Cafe makes a mean iteration, using rich beef bone broth spiked with aromatic lemongrass and a slick of chili oil. With a caramel sweet Vietnamese iced coffee on the side, you'll be kicking down the office doors. If soup for breakfast sounds a little too strange, the pillowy brioche French toast, rich with egg yolks and brown butter syrup, is pretty hard to beat. Any excuse to eat ice cream for breakfast seems, to me, to be a pretty good thing.

It's true that Austin is a town of devoted brunchers, of young creative types who wander in and out of open offices at all hours of the day, breakfast tacos firmly clutched in their perfectly manicured hands. That's part of why I like it here so much; we are a community of devoted snackers, of people who will eat pretty much anything at any time of day. Fortunately for you, that includes early morning. Whether you're on your way to work, or just making your way back home, early morning is a great time to eat in Austin. Although, to be fair, what isn't?

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Joe's Bakery & Mexican Food, Elizabeth Street Cafe

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