Austin can’t claim taco primacy. That category is too broad, encompassing too many variations in style.
When it comes to breakfast tacos, however, Austin trumps all other American cities.
“People wake up at all hours of the day,” Mr. Espinosa, a native of Mexico City, said as he served a taco, piled with scrambled eggs and drenched in a purée of russets and jalapeños that he calls Mexican mashed potatoes.
“Maybe the first meal of their day comes at 11 in the morning, and maybe it comes at 2 in the afternoon,” Mr. Espinosa said, as customers queued for migas tacos, bound with jack cheese. “They want a taco, and they want breakfast. And a breakfast taco gets you both.”
Breakfast tacos, eaten by early-morning commuters and third-shift laborers, as well as rock ’n’ roll club kids, sound Mexican. Some ingredients, like refried beans and chorizo, taste Mexican. And Mexican-Americans own many of the restaurants that serve them.
But breakfast tacos may owe as much to the American fast-food industry as they do to the taquerias of, say, Guadalajara.
No one agrees on which cook popularized them. Nor is there agreement that Austin was the locus of the development; San Antonio and other cities in the Southwestern United States also claim them.