Walking through the grocery store comes with a new sticker shock: eggs are expensive. For someone beyond. This month, the average cost of a carton of a dozen eggs reached $4.25, up from $1.93 in January 2022, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Why are eggs so damn expensive? The answer is twofold: inflation and bird flu affecting laying hens. Having heard the news as a taco editor and avid breakfast taco consumer, I can’t help but ask: what are Texans and taquerias selling morning staples to do?
Ale Sanchez, co-owner of El Sancho Tex Mex BBQ at Mission, says this latest spike is nothing compared to egg prices in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Then a box of eggs, fifteen dozen packs of eggs cost us about eighty bucks,” she says. “Now we pay somewhere between forty and forty-five bucks a box.” However, the rising price of eggs, along with rising prices for other essentials, forced Sanchez and her hatchery husband Daniel to raise menu prices by fifty cents last October. “We did our best to keep prices the same, but we felt compelled,” says Daniel.
The Sanchez say if the price increase has affected their business, it hasn’t been much. Other taquerias are not so lucky. Victoria Elizondo, owner of Houston-based Cochinita & Co., tells me that breakfast tacos made from her egg-based taqueria account for fifty percent of sales. She feels embarrassed because she is afraid of raising prices so that her loyal customers are not affected. “It would disrupt the routine of our clients,” says Elizondo. Some of these patrons visit several times a week or even twice a day. Standard breakfast tacos are made with two large eggs, which currently cost 50 cents each. Elizondo pays $90 per box. “And that’s on top of the fact that food prices continue to be high,” she emphasizes, before warning about the changes. “Consumers need to understand that when prices skyrocket and fluctuate, we will not change prices right away, but if this continues, we will have to raise prices in the next few weeks. It affects the business.”
Hugo Garcia of Con Huevos Tacos in San Antonio says egg prices don’t affect his business as much. The varying cost of the ingredients is part of his five-year profitability plan, in which quality over quantity. “Who doesn’t want to get a little more profit from their sales?” Garcia asks aloud during a phone interview. “But I never set out to make a profit for the first five years.” Instead, Garcia is focusing on building a brand whose customers will keep coming back regardless of price increases. “They will keep coming as long as we strive for quality,” he continues. “We are cooking from scratch; we’re not a fast food restaurant just because we sell tacos.” However, Garcia admits he would prefer the eggs to cost less than a dime apiece. He is currently shelling out over $50 for every 180 eggs, or about 28 cents per egg. It’s better than the $70 to $90 he was paying before.
Like Elizondo, Garcia puts at least two extra-large eggs in each taco, making for a large selection of Brownsville-style handmade flour tortillas. These are some of the best breakfast tacos in Texas and will cost more over time.
The good news, despite fluctuating market rates, is that egg prices are on a downward trend and are expected to continue to fall. USDA reports prices this week in the Texas region are 57 cents lower for very large eggs and 75 cents lower for large eggs. Here’s the thing though: breakfast tacos don’t require eggs to be good. The style is wide and varied, especially in San Antonio and the southern areas. To help Texans satisfy their appetite without feeling like a pinch, I’ve compiled a list of recommended egg-free breakfast tacos and where to find them.
Sylvia’s Restaurant, Brownsville
While BBQ specialists like Vera’s Backyard Bar-B-Que are postponing sales until the weekend, Sylvia’s Mexican Restaurant, which is down the street from Vera’s, serves beef BBQ daily. Juicy, shimmery and juicy in a plate-sized flour tortilla, this is what Texas needs. 1843 South Parkway, Brownsville956-542-9220.
Beans and cheese
Original Donut Shop, San Antonio
A well-cooked bean and cheese taco is perfection, and that’s what you get at this almost seventy-year-old breakfast spot. 3307 Fredericksburg Road, San Antonio210-734-5661.
Beans, cheese and bacon
Con Huevos Tacos, San Antonio
This take on a South Texas classic replaces pinto beans with Mayocoba beans from Peru. They’re more expensive, but they’re creamier and go great with salted cheddar and crispy striped bacon. 1629 E. Houston, San Antonio210-229-9295.
Tacos N’ More Miss G, McAllen
When you open the aluminum foil that holds this Tex-Mex taco standard, chunky cuts of beef are exposed, floating in a deep dark sauce, and you’re quickly enjoying this enduring dish from the Rio Grande Valley. 2263 Pecan Boulevard, McAllen956-668-8226.
Chile Relleno Burrito
La Colonial Tortilla Factory, El Paso
The tightly wrapped fresh flour tortilla has chewy and cheesy green chili relleno. This is a delightful example of a popular West Texas dining experience at this Sun City establishment. 212 N. Copia, El Paso915-533-9691.
La Loncheria and Tortilleria, Midland
Typical of South Texas and northern Mexico, this succulent meat dish is a great way to start your day in the Permian Basin. He has sausages. 1605 S. Main, Midland432-570-4620.
Nopales and vegan chorizo
Cochinita & Co, Houston
Vegetable and spicy, with no animal products, this taco is a favorite of non-meat eaters at Victoria Elizondo’s Cochinita & Co. 5420 Lawndale, Suite 500, Houston713-203-3999.
Taco with pork chop
Garcia Mexican Food, San Antonio
Sprinkled with lemon and pepper seasoning and served with a steak cutter, this bone-in beauty is an underrated breakfast option. This also applies to the many pork chops tacos in Alamo City. They are an unsung member of the breakfast taco canon and deserve a place in your rumbling stomach. 842 Fredericksburg Road, San Antonio210-735-4525.
Los Jacales, Laredo
This fifty-year-old South Texas diner specializes in a variety of breakfast tacos, often referred to as mariachis in Laredo. There are great nostalgic options like the sausage and egg tacos, but the star is Robert Special. It’s a garnished version of carne ranchera tacos filled with smoked brisket and gravy. Robert, however, garnishes the lily with crumbled bacon and optional overcooked beans to tie the ingredients together in a floured puff pastry. 620 Guadalupe, Laredo956-722-8470.