Ham and egg; $1.89; Mendez Cafe, 201 Bartholomew Ave., (210) 923-6603
Only twice has a taco made me cry.
The first was a bean and cheese on the West Side—but my emotional response I’m sure had to do with me biting into this excellent taco at the moment a father-son duo began belting out corridos three tables away.
The second time I cried was this week, when I tasted for the third time the ham and egg on flour at Mendez Cafe on the South Side. I wasn’t weeping, but tears did form.
If breakfast tacos are San Antonio’s comfort food, this one brings me the most comfort. What’s strange is that it’s unlike your typical San Antonio breakfast taco. It’s unlike your typical ham and egg taco.
What sets apart this ham and egg is its underlying syrup element that cannot be ignored. Yes, the egg and the ham and the flour tortilla are there. But underneath those dominant flavors is the hint of pancakes.
When I wrote about this taco for the overall write-up on Mendez Cafe, and made the same syrupy observation, a reader suggested that the tortillas are cooked on the same flattop as the pancakes. Mendez Cafe, after all, is a South Side institution that specializes in breakfast.
But the other tacos I ordered didn’t have this hint of syrup.
Upon closer inspection, after tasting the ham bits individually, I determined that they must use a maple-glazed ham. What’s crazy is that this was the third time I had this taco, and it was by far the best experience. This ham was charred to a slight crisp—not boiled. The egg seemed prepared almost “over easy,” then folded into the flour tortilla, and not scrambled.
The elements mentioned so far are great on their own. But then Mendez Cafe’s excellent flour tortilla jumps in to provide like a pancake element to accompany the charred bits of syrupy ham.
Other tacos made my Great Tacos list before Mendez Cafe’s ham and egg, and those may be technically better tacos, but this one’s my favorite. It’s tear worthy.
— Benjamin Olivo
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