Welcome to the second entry in our Fifth Street Foodie series, a dining guide for true Austinites and by true Austinites! We hope this feature can help everyone from out-of-town “newbies” to seasoned (dry-rubbed?) veterans in their quest to find the best little dining nooks Austin has to offer. In case you missed it, last time we discussed Austin’s great fried chicken scene. And now, without further ado…
True Austin locals will recognize this sound immediately, but if you’re not from around here, let me clue you in: it’s the sound of authentic, original Texas-Mex. Don’t know what Texas-Mex is? Find out after the jump!
The great state of Texas is located just north of a little country—or país—called Mexico. Maybe you’ve heard of it? Haha. Just kidding. You probably have.
But if you haven’t, let me tell you something about it: Mexico is basically the Final Frontier of Food. For ages, its inhabitants have managed to pluck the few scraps of savory goodness from the barren desert wasteland surrounding them and, against all odds, piece together some of the finest cuisine known to humanity.
Gorditas, chalupas, Mexican pizzas … abuelas have been cooking up these traditional dishes night in and night out for generations. Legend has it that on a summer afternoon in 1857, the scent of Mexican food wafted out of a Mexican home and over the U.S. border fence, where it caught the attention of an enterprising young Texan.
“I can taste these smells,” he famously said.
Thus was born Texas-Mex, a food fusion unlike any other. Austin in particular has embraced this hybrid genre, so much so that the city has become world-famous for its wild taco varieties. And if there’s one kind of taco that every Austinite holds close to his or her heart, it’s the for-breakfast taco.
A for-breakfast taco is basically the perfect way to start the day in the Live Music Capital of the World. You wake up, fry some eggs and bacon, maybe a little cheese and some potatoes, and then guess what? You put those things on a tortilla to make a taco.
Are you listening??!! Eggs on a taco! What could be more quintessentially weird (which is just how we like to keep it here in Austin)?
As it happens, the granddaddy of all Austin-style for-breakfast tacos is nestled deep within a forgotten corner of the city, in a plain building with a small parking lot and a surprisingly short wait. We try to downplay this restaurant in our local dining guides so that the tourists don’t swarm it on Sunday mornings, and, honestly, even mentioning it here almost makes me a traitor to the ATX foodie scene. Still, the whole point of Fifth Street Foodie is to shine a light on the Austin dining underground, and I am nothing if not devoted to the cause.
So here goes. Say it with me, locals:
Taco Bell takes its name from the bell in its logo, and its iconic “DOOOOOOOONG!!!!” sound is familiar to anyone raised within the Travis county limits. That’s because Taco Bell, or “The Bell” to regulars, has been a longtime local breakfast destination thanks to its astonishing array of for-breakfast tacos.
Taco Bell has two main for-breakfast taco choices: sausage and bacon. I know what you’re thinking: “It should have more toppings than just sausage or bacon!” Well, I have great news. It also has egg and cheese and syrup. But most importantly, it has …
a waffle instead of a tortilla! You won’t believe your mouth when you bite into the mushy, tepid exterior of a Taco Bell for-breakfast taco and feel tiny indentations on the surface of the bread. You’ll think, Hey, this tortilla is dimpled!
But when you spit it out into your palm, you will be shocked to realize that what you ate was a toasty waffle flap wrapped around salty beef sausage, bouncy eggs and sticky-glue cheese. Wash it all down with some brown syrup and our popular local Mountain Dew variant Baja Blast for the ultimate breakfast experience.
I’ve never had Taco Bell’s bacon tacos, because bacon contains gluten, which I can’t eat :(. Still, I’m told that the bacon on a for-breakfast taco from The Bell is just as pointy and smoky as the bacon you’ll find anywhere else (oink!).
I know that “fusion”-type cuisine can intimidate diners who aren’t as adventurous as us hardcore foodies, but naysayers will be changing their tune after having just one authentic Taco Bell for-breakfast taco beneath the blinding Austin sun. It’s also a cheap meal, since The Bell keeps its ingredients local, and the service is outstanding—plus they wear uniforms (always nice to see).
I have no trouble recommending The Bell with a full five-bat rating.
But try to keep this one to yourself, folks—I get grumpy when I have to wait in line for my for-breakfast tacos!