If you've ever had to make a big move in your life, you can probably relate on some level to WFAE listener Julianne Wooten. She moved to Charlotte two and a half years ago from Austin, Texas, and upon arriving here, realized she couldn't find one of her favorite dishes.
That dish - the breakfast taco - is a relatively new creation. For the uninitiated, it's a hot tortilla (flour or corn) stuffed with breakfast foods like scrambled eggs and cheese, potatoes and beans, or maybe even bacon or chorizo (Mexican sausage).
In Austin, which has been described as the "breakfast taco capitol of the world," the dish is almost inescapable. Vendors sell them from street corner taco trucks, waiters serve them on restaurant patios, chefs have even staged breakfast taco cook offs.
A pair of Austin-area writers published a book in 2013 (Austin Breakfast Tacos: The Story of the Most Important Taco of the Day) placing the number of eateries serving the dish in Austin at 370.
Meanwhile, in the greater Charlotte area, we counted roughly 100 Mexican and Tex-Mex restaurants, and only a small handful of them served anything remotely resembling an Austin-style breakfast taco.
That led our listener, Julianne Wooten, to cry out, "How has no one tapped the breakfast taco market? It needs to happen! Someone, please - please help!"
On this episode of FAQ City, we find a restaurant in Charlotte that does serve breakfast tacos - and, of course, sample them - and we track down west coast journalist and taco historian Gustavo Arellano (author of Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America), who tells us the history of the dish, and says it may just be a matter of time before the breakfast taco craze takes off in our neck of the woods.
If you can't wait another minute to try a breakfast taco, here's a list of places we've found in Charlotte that do serve them.
A note: many of our local Mexican restaurants offer "huevos rancheros" and "chorizo con huevos," two breakfast dishes that do actually have origins in Mexico and involve eggs and tacos for breakfast, but what we're looking for here are places that serve the Americanized breakfast tacos made popular by Texas - apologies to Mexican food purists everywhere.
Did we miss a spot? Let us know. We'll try to keep this list up-to-date.
Charlotte restaurants serving breakfast tacos:
- La Unica - The name translates to "the only one," but ironically, this chain has several locations scattered in and around Charlotte. You'll be treated to seven different breakfast taco options, ranging from ham and eggs, bacon and eggs, to even machaca and eggs. All come with rice and refried beans. Served all day, seven days a week. $8
- RuRu's Tacos and Tequila - This swanky Tex-Mex place off Providence Road has three breakfast taco options on the menu for weekend brunch, and trust us, they are good. The pork carnitas and eggs are highly recommended. A special tip of our hat to RuRu's for supplying the breakfast tacos featured in this episode (and pictured on this web page). $4
- Vida Mexican Kitchen y Cantina - Set in the heart of uptown, this Tex-Mex spot serves up two types of Texas-style breakfast tacos for weekend brunch. Try the egg and cheese tacos, or the chorizo, egg, and bacon tacos. Huevos rancheros are also offered. $7 - $10.50
- Hot Taco - A richly decorated restaurant serving Tex-Mex fare just off the Blue Line in South End. For weekend brunch, you can order bacon, egg, and cheese tacos, or huevos rancheros. $9
- UPDATE: Peace N' Hominy - Technically, not in Charlotte. But hey, Belmont isn't that far away, right? This restaurant serves a whopping 11 different combinations of breakfast tacos at the low, low price of $1.87 each. You can also order six-packs or a bakers dozen for a reduced price.
Honorable mentions - A few Charlotte restaurants don't serve Austin-style breakfast tacos per se, but they have other breakfast dishes that could suffice in a pinch.
- La Revolucion - Head over to this spot next to the AvidXchange Music Factory and order "huevos al gusto" - scrambled eggs with your choice of meat, served with rice and beans. You'll have to ask for a tortilla. $6
- Morazan Restaurant - This chain serves a variety of Latin American food, including dishes from Honduras, El Salvador, and Mexico. They have an extensive breakfast menu featuring some 10 dishes, all with eggs and a variety of meats and veggies, all served with avocado. Breakfast is offered until 4 p.m. $6 - $9
Coming soon ... !
- Superica - In a few months, Texas-born chef Ford Fry will be opening up a Tex-Mex concept in South End called Superica. He confirmed to us that yes, the restaurant will serve a variety of Austin-style breakfast tacos for weekend brunch, including migas (eggs, chorizo, jalapenos and cheese) as well as chorizo, potatoes, and cheese. The restaurant is slated to open in the Design Center of the Carolinas complex in summer 2018.
Do you have a question about the people, places, or goings-on in the Charlotte region that you'd like us to answer? Let us know below, and we might just answer it on the next FAQ City!