Wake up and smell the taco… again

Capital City Cheapo

If you’re going to live in Austin, your love affair with Mexican food (alright fine, quasi-Mexican food) is going to have to start sooner, rather than later. Our mini metropolis is quite literally filled with potato, egg, cheese, meat, and salsa. Therefore, what better way to save a buck than by pumping your stomach with the only meal that consistently rings up at about a dollar: breakfast tacos. I’ve done the math and eating breakfast tacos for your morning, afternoon, and evening meal really adds up to some serious savings. Think of it this way: If every b-fast taco you eat is $1, you can live on $21 a week! Of course, you’ll have to drink from the muddy waters of Town Lake and live in a tent near Zilker, but those are minor details. Get to work, cheapo. The first week will be difficult and yes, you may grow nostalgic about sandwiches, pizza, and pasta, but after a while, you’ll see the incredible financial reward that will come from this new lifestyle. Buen provecho!

photo / zesmerelda 

Let’s begin in the North. If Brentwood, Allandale, Crestview, or Shoal Creek is where you call home, I highly recommend starting your uncostly day at Mi Victoria Bakery (458-1898). Drive up Burnet Road past Hancock Drive to find Mi Victoria on the right, lounging in the cool corporate shadows of a CVS Pharmacy. Ninety-nine cent breakfast tacos and ten-cent add-ins.

Also favorable, economical, and closer to the North Pole are Burnet Road’s TacoDeli and North Lamar’s Fuego’s (524-1164). Both are happy to hand over a hot breakfast in exchange for a handful of dirty coins. Fuego’s will even pour you a strong cup of coffee.

Since the East Side is temporarily fashionable, it’s worth mentioning that Manor Road plays host to two of the best hangover breakfasts in town. A savory taco at the always-competitive yet ever-friendly Mi Madre’s (322-9721) or El Chilito will start your day off at under $2 and soothe that headache into oblivion.

While you’re in the area, swing over to Airport Boulevard and pick up some lunch-time grub at Tamale House #3 (453-9842) or The Stallion Grill (380-9433), both of which charge around $1 for their tacos. And yes, I know what you’re thinking. I wouldn’t have named a restaurant that either, but try to trust the old adage, “Don’t knock it ’til you try it.”

photo / Veronica Hansen The green chile pork taco (left) and the trailer park taco (right) from Torchy’s Tacos 

East Austin is also home to the highly coveted Juan in a Million. Two bucks and a friendly handshake and you’re full for the day. Also east of IH-35 is Las Cazuelas (479-7911), where heaven can be yours for three quarters, a dime, and a nickel. Last but not least is the legendary Porfirio’s Tacos (476-5030), which is headquartered on Holly Street but gets around town in a moving trailer.

And then there’s South Austin, which can always be counted on for inexpensive eats. Maria’s venerable Taco Xpress on South Lamar hands over breakfast tacos all day for exactly $1.40. This seems to be the magic number, because College Avenue’s Nueva Onda also presents tacos in the AM for the popular price of $1.40. Other reasons to head south: Torchy’s Tacos trailer on South First for a $2 bundle of tortilla joy, the much-loved La Guera taco truck on South Lamar, and Taqueria La Tapatia on Ben White (three tacos for $1.99, $.50 coffee).

No offense to the west side of the city, but… well… your offerings are inadequate and very minor league. However, I congratulate you on the $1.50 breakfast taco at TacoDeli on Spyglass Road and the notorious red caboose that houses Juanita’s Tacos (708-1179). For a dollar and a quarter, you get breakfast and a fabulous view of the morning commute on West 5th Street.

Don’t know which side of town will strike your fancy tomorrow morning? Try the omnipresent Taqueria Arandas or the equally ubiquitous Taco Cabana. (I know, I know, but this column’s about being stingy, not selective.) Together, these two provide breakfast tacos to cheapskates on South Congress, East Riverside, South Lamar, Burnet, MLK, Stassney, South First, Rundberg, East Seventh, and Ben White.

Pack up your briefcase, stuff a $5 bill in your pocket, and begin training for the title of Breakfast Taco Bon Vivant. There’s nothing like the dawning of a new day, the taste of a fresh, over-stuffed tortilla, and the wealth you will acquire by eating potato, egg, and cheese every day for the rest of your life.

More Capital City Cheapo

About Sarah Murray Sarah Murray is an Austin-based freelance writer and principal of Aerabela Brown Agency. Like everyone else in the world, she’s also working on a screenplay.


Anonymous's picture

el chilito owns me. i probably spend at least $60 a week there (i am obvs not buying dollar tacos..)

people who work at taco cabana on riverside are RUDE! i will never go there again.