Austin is a city obsessed with breakfast tacos. Moreso than any other place in the States, one might argue.
*note: sadly, Porfirio’s closed in late 2017. RIP Old Austin.
You might be more used to seeing gentrified “breakfast burritos” with their overly-neat wrapped exterior, predictable scrambled eggs and assorted other Mexican inspired ingredients, but breakfast tacos are a delightfully messy and perfectly portioned convenient breakfast solution. The best part? They come in a seemingly endless variety of ingredient combinations.
Much like a beloved bar or pizza joint, most people have a very outspoken opinion on where their favourite breakfast taco comes from, and it can be anywhere from a “white guy does Tex Mex with cool typography” joint, to a tiny brightly coloured trailer, to an unassuming hole in the wall. In fact, I had to make a bit of mental adjustment when I saw friends buying tacos of a suspect warming platter at the gas station. Every natural defence mechanism in your body would ordinarily warn you off gas station cuisine, but in Austin these “point of sale” tacos may in fact have a cult following and be made by a local lady with an incredible salsa recipe.
Porfirio’s might be described by some as “no frills”, tucked alongside a convenience store on a fairly quiet, leafy East Side street, it’s almost too easy to drive straight past it. They also happen to be one of my absolute favorite breakfast taco purveyors, falling into the “I would drive across town for these” category.
Note to Australians (and possibly New Yorkers) in particular, try not to choke in amazed disbelief when you see the prices. Yeah, there are still places you can get breakfast for $2 that don’t involve a drive through and a giant yellow letter. And, apparently, there are still places where you can get a can of soda for $1.
The menu is imposing upon first glance, with a seemingly huge combination of options. In fact the menu is even larger than the one in pictured, spilling across to a second board and featuring a quintessentially Texan Migas taco. Of course, should you feel this is still not enough variety, you can always customize your ideal taco. My secret
shame favorite is a combo which is devoid of useful nutrition- potato, cheese and bacon. Think of it as a loaded potato skin all wrapped up in a soft flour tortilla. Maybe there’s some logic to eating this first thing in the morning that makes it slightly less un-healthy, since you have all day to work it off? Yeah, let’s just tell ourselves that.
So we have incredible pricing and delicious combinations. A pretty solid base so far. But the game changer may very well come in a tiny lidded pot – Porfirio’s incredible green salsa. This fiery nectar is like the magic activator that completes the taco goodness, imparting a fresh, spicy and citrusy burst to cut through the intense filling.
Looking for something more diverse than a breakfast offering? Porfirio’s are also really well known for their carne guisada plus they’re one of the few places in town to still make fideo (kind of like Mexican spaghetti).
Remember to bring cash with you, keep in mind that they sell their hot sauce by the pint (great for emergency home use) and definitely, absolutely, order at least two tacos per person.