SXSW is in full swing. Fans and insiders of the tech, gaming, film, and music industries are all there — waving their creditials at anyone who will give them a glance. Amidst the lines, the shows, the screenings, the panels, and the endless parties, you’ll need to eat. With the wealth of options available, it’s important that you try some iconic foods of the city, and though bbq is huge in Austin, there’s one food that sticks out to first-time visitors: the breakfast taco.
Though the breakfast taco was a staple in south Texas for years before it made its way to Austin, the city’s bursting culinary scene took hold of the dish and elevated it to fit the eclectic tastes of its residents and tourists alike. We’ve already given you some options for a nice sit-down meal to help recharge your batteries, but SXSW can be chaotic and unpredictable (which is part of what makes it so appealing). When you just need to grab a quick bite between all the music, movies, and everything else going on, here are some of the best breakfast taco options you can find within walking distance of downtown Austin.
A food truck located on the southern tip of downtown, Taco Baby has some straight-up traditional taco choices, like steak, egg, and cheese — affectionately named “The Old Man.” But they’re not afraid to experiment with its breakfast tacos, either, namely by dousing their savory fillings with some maple syrup, which gives the term breakfast taco a whole new meaning.
Juan In A Million
Juan In A Million has been a go-to taco joint on the east side of downtown since it opened in 1980. While it has a number of breakfast taco options on its menu, the most popular item is the Duan Juan, an enormous taco that’ll earn you a place on the wall if you partake in the restaurant’s long-standing eating contest.
If that weren’t enough reason to stop in, you can also find out exactly why co-owner Juan Mesa wins the Best Handshake in Austin award year after year.
Don Gume’s Tacos
Just south of the Colorado River you’ll find Don Gume’s Tacos food truck, a family-owned business that boasts in house-made tortillas and home-style recipes. In addition to their assortment of breakfast tacos, you can get any taco “brunch style,” which is served with an egg cooked sunny-side-up.
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A staple of east Austin since 1962 (though the family’s history goes back much farther), Joe’s Bakery has some of the most reliable breakfast taco options out there, priced to fit a festival-goer’s budget. Should you have some extra time on your hands, they also have a variety of delectable breakfasts that you’ll want to sit down to enjoy.
While they’ve been serving up their unique take on tortilla-wrapped treats since 2006, they proudly serve homestyle recipes that go back four generations. Just about a mile south of downtown, Mellizoz offers customers the option to ‘build-your-own’ breakfast taco, but their breakfast menu offers a wide range of ingredients that includes braised beef to spinach and cotija cheese for the more adventurous eater.
Tamale House East
A unique, welcoming atmosphere with a straightforward breakfast taco menu, the Tamale House restaurants are nothing short of an Austin legacy. As the name implies, it’s located a few blocks east of the downtown area, but unlike a lot of places on this list, there is parking available if you don’t feel up for the hike.
Bouldin Creek Cafe
A cafe just south of the downtown area, this hotspot specializes in vegetarian and vegan cuisine with something to prove — which is that it’s delicious. Their breakfast taco selection reflects that, with choices that range from locally-grown tomatoes, pasture-raised eggs, and house-made veggie chorizo.
La Mexicana Bakery
Right on the same block as Bouldin Creek Cafe, La Mexicana is a 24-hour bakery/restaurant that offers a slew of basic breakfast taco options — the perfect meal anytime day or night. Plus you can grab a few fresh-baked Mexican pastries for dessert.
Located right in the middle of the downtown area, Taco Shack has breakfast tacos available from when they open at 6 until 11 a.m., when they shift to their lunch menu. While you can’t go wrong with their ‘Shack Taco,’ they also have a six-taco pack that’s sure to make you a hit if you’re the lucky one who’s tasked with doing a taco run for your fellow SXSWers.
A husband-and-wife-owned taco truck on Austin’s east side, it’s all the charm of an old Austin eatery that also has cactus and broccoli as breakfast taco options. Speaking of, while they do have a handful of other choices, their breakfast taco options not only dominate their menu, they all come “with egg and cheese.” As it should be.