In November 2012 at Trinity University, Anthony Bourdain gave a talk to a packed Laurie Auditorium titled “Guts and Glory: An Evening with Anthony Bourdain.” During the Q&A, someone asked Bourdain, who has been known to get wasted sometimes on his TV shows, which country he couldn’t hang in in terms of alcohol consumption.
“Russia,” Bourdain said. And then he elaborated (and I paraphrase):
“They drink vodka for breakfast like San Antonians eat burritos.”
Umm — excuse me?!
As much as I love that man’s work, WTF with the burritos, Bourdain?! Such a glaring error from someone so erudite and well-traveled.
It made me realize that in San Antonio, all we have is each other, our breakfast tacos and our Spurs. And while our Spurs have gained the recognition from the rest of the NBA as a model franchise, the rest of America isn’t on board with breakfast tacos. Sure, a New York writer will occasionally weigh in with an article that’s thinly researched and reported. Or, some Brooklyn hipster restaurant will begin serving $4 bean and cheese tacos and proclaim it a culinary renaissance or some shit. And EVERY SINGLE TIME, we San Antonians will get all indignant because after all these years we still have an inferiority complex the size of a Rolando’s super taco.
People, who cares?! We’re in this breakfast taco thing together — you and me. (Me being Ben Olivo, former downtown reporter, columnist and blogger at the San Antonio Express-News. I have since left and decided to start this project, among others. Enjoy!)
And yet, we hardly know anything about breakfast tacos. I mean, we know we love them as a San Antonio culinary staple and we know individually which ones bring us the most joy, but do we know where they came from, the journey they took to get to this point in San Antonio? We were born, and they were there, in front of us on a paper plate in our abuelita’s kitchen. Or, who serves the best breakfast tacos? Hundreds and hundreds of taquerias dot San Antonio, but has anybody tried to chronicle them all?
Hence, this blog. I hope to find answers to these questions and many others that surround breakfast tacos in San Antonio, Texas. My goal is to deliver a review of a different taqueria every Tuesday. How I’ll do this, I have no clue. For example, what the hell do I order as I waddle from taqueria to taqueria with so many taco permutations — the potato and egg; the potato and egg with cheese; the potato and egg with cheese and bacon; the potato and bean with bacon? Throw in the machacados and the lenguas and the weenies and the various a la Mexicanas and who knows where to start? And what about the bean and cheese???
Another goal of this blog’s is to explore the city, and not review (at least not in the first year) the places that always make critics’ and readers’ choice lists: the Original Donut Shops and the Taco Havens and the Rolando’s of San Antonio — been there, done that.
Eventually I’ll write beyond breakfast tacos to include other types of tacos, post interviews with cooks and restaurant owners, eventually visit the border, eventually visit Austin (to see what good if any they bring to the table that’s not kale), and explore various taco-related issues in essay form — God forbid another half-assed article about Austin is published.
Don’t have time for BS. Too many tacos to eat.
— Benjamin Olivo
Want me to visit your favorite taqueria? Have any taco-related news, issues or concerns? Email me.