Hola, Joe’s Bakery, with your politeness, your cleanliness, your respect for the traditions that make our Austin lives rich. Inside, patrons greet one another with “Hello, sir!” and “You tell George I know he’ll feel better soon.” Someone shakes a hand; someone hugs a waitress like a sister. This place is part heavenly taqueria and part community hub, papered wall-to-wall with museum-worthy photos of old Austin.
And at each booth, diners roll and scoop tortillas into their breakfast plates—a visual hint at the evolution of what has become the holy grail of Central Texan handheld foods. It’s just the right atmosphere to sit down with taco-culture guru Mando Rayo about the new book he’s coauthored with Jarod Neece entitled Austin Breakfast Tacos: The Story of the Most Important Taco of the Day.
In the book, Rayo and Neece tell how the great Hispanic restaurant families of Austin took a dash of Texas and a dollop of entrepreneurial perseverance, steeped them in the traditions of their abuelas, and created the glorious breakfast-taco scene that is as near to an Austinite’s heart as live music and Barton Springs. Rayo places his order with the waitress: “Puro tacos para mi. Uno es de huevo, frijole y tocino, and el otro me da uno bean and cheese”—a perfect illustration of the blend of traditions we’re about to enjoy. Then he proceeds to expound on the cultural, regional and economic ramifications of the breakfast taco, and the many reasons he calls Austin “the Breakfast Taco Capital of the World.”
Edible Austin: Flour or corn?
Mando Rayo: It depends on what I’m having, but my preference is corn. My taste is more traditional…I like the earthy tones. I’m originally from El Paso, so I grew up with fresh flour tortillas every day, made by my mom, my abuela or my tias…it was awesome.
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