New York, a city with almost too many adopted cuisines to count, has never really been a town for breakfast tacos, the pride of Austin, or breakfast burritos, the treasure of Sante Fe.
The reason is simple: The bacon, egg, and cheese, on a roll, also known as the BEC, is the preferred Big Apple conveyance mechanism for an American breakfast. So even though there are fine versions of migas tacos and sausage burritos here and there, hoping to find great versions in every corner of the city would be like rooting for a Manhattan renaissance of deep dish pizza. Not gonna happen.
Recently, however, I caught wind that Los Tacos No. 1, one of the city’s better taquerias, hawks breakfast burritos at the Times Square and Chelsea locations. I’m not much of a burrito person in general, but when it comes to the breakfast version, my favorite is Alex Stupak’s rice-laced version at Empellon Al Pastor. True to Stupak’s predilection for subverting accepted norms, though, he only offers it at dinner.
Los Tacos serves its burritos at the appropriate time: In the morning. From 8 a.m. until 11 a.m., a staffer works the “El Donkey” cart, handing out burritos for $4 apiece, cash-only. I swung by the Times Square outpost on a recent morning, ready for a strong cup of coffee or maybe some horchata with my savory breakfast. El Donkey, alas, only serves burritos.
If only they were good burritos. The chorizo version was essentially a whole kielbasa’s worth of sausage — and nothing else — stuffed into a tightly rolled flour tortilla.
The “California” option was better, a reliable mash of scrambled eggs, smoky bacon, and soft potatoes, wrapped up in the same edible cylinder. Los Tacos, I’ve argued, manufactures some of the city’s best flour tortillas, cutting them with lard, rolling them thin like wonton wrappers, and warming them on the griddle. That artisanal mastery isn’t quite on display with the breakfast burritos, where the tortillas are damp and limp, as if they’ve been steaming in their aluminum foil casing for hours. The vegetarian burrito, stuffed with eggs and cactus, is best described as bland mush.
My fellow critic, Robert Sietsema, has been equally critical about the city’s breakfast tacos. “Time after time, New Yorkers have effed them up,” he wrote last year. “Usually, it’s with extraneous ingredients that don’t belong, from spinach to feta cheese to truffle oil to — totally wrong! — corn tortillas,” he added. To be fair, he typed those skeptical words in preface to his rave about the King David’s breakfast tacos in the Financial District.
I can’t give that same rave about the breakfast burritos at Los Tacos. For cheap, delicious morning nutrition, New Yorkers already know where to do better — at any street corner deli for a BEC. Sorry guys, I’m calling the breakfast burritos at Los Tacos a SELL.
Buy, Sell, Hold is a column from Eater New York’s chief critic Ryan Sutton where he looks at a single dish or item and decides whether you should you buy it, sell it (or just don’t try it at all), or hold (give it some time before trying).