If Matt Post had his way, more people would be eating their bacon, egg and cheese on a tortilla instead of a bagel.
The Texas native co-owns Javelina, a restaurant that offers specialties from the Lone Star State, from fajitas (Houston) to puffy tacos (San Antonio) to breakfast tacos (Austin).
Last month, the new Upper East Side location of Javelina — just steps from the 72nd Street Q stop — opened a breakfast taco take-away window, so commuters can start the day with a couple tortillas stuffed with egg, cheese and bacon, chorizo or potato.
“What people usually grab is a bacon, egg and cheese on a roll or bagel, which is great, but it’s kind of a big carb bomb in your stomach,” said Post, 42, who grew up in Dallas eating breakfast tacos. “With breakfast tacos, you still get some of that carb, but it’s not as much of it.”
Over in Brooklyn, Dennis Mendoza and Autumn Stanford are spreading the breakfast taco gospel. The couple were already hawking another Texas staple — the kolache — at its Bed-Stuy bakery Brooklyn Kolache when they opened taco spot Swell Dive a few blocks away in 2016.
Last year, they launched a breakfast taco menu at Swell Dive that includes Austin-style tacos like the a-migas, with scrambled eggs, corn tortilla chips, pico de gallo, avocado and queso.
“I’m born and raised in Austin — breakfast tacos have just been a staple my whole life,” Stanford, 38, said.
More Austin-style tacos can be grabbed at King David Tacos, which bills itself as NYC’s first breakfast taco cart. Since last fall, it’s been parked in the Financial District and Prospect Park, with a third location being eyed for this summer.
“You can have a couple, go about your day and they satisfy you,” said Liz Solomon Dwyer, 33, who runs the business with her husband, Nate Dwyer. “You shouldn’t feel guilty about eating them.”
Following — and bucking — tradition
Ask any Austinite, and they’d likely lament that authentic breakfast tacos are hard to find in New York City. Stanford included.
“I am extremely picky about breakfast tacos,” said Stanford, adding that the Tex-Mex ones at Swell Dive are “by far the most authentic breakfast tacos in New York City.”
She and Mendoza ate “a lot” of breakfast tacos in Austin as part of their research.
“We took everything we liked about each one and developed our own,” Mendoza, 41, said.
For a general rule of thumb, what separates an Austin-style breakfast taco from any old taco is the tortilla — traditionally, it’s flour, not corn.
It’s a subtle sign to aficionados; King David Tacos’ use of flour tortillas, which are shipped from Texas, “would make it authentic to Texans,” Solomon Dwyer said.
For Stanford, house-made tortillas were key.
“The difference between distributor-bought and making it ourselves was huge,” Stanford said. “We have to make our own all the time now, we can’t go back.”
The use of flour tortillas in Tex-Mex cuisine dates all the way back to Spanish settlement in what today is Texas, when conquistadors started growing wheat to make communion wafers before eventually using it to make other things like tortillas, said Post of Javelina, which also makes its flour tortillas in-house.
Another sign that you’re dealing with traditional breakfast tacos is simplicity.
“The biggest mistake is overcomplicating them,” Solomon Dwyer said. “We’re straightforward and you know it when you taste it.”
In addition to eggs and cheese, typical fillings include potato, bacon or chorizo, Stanford said.
Still, NYC’s breakfast taco specialists are still game for a few curveballs that remind you you’re in NYC and not on Austin’s Sixth Street. Swell Dive’s menu features a few Filipino breakfast tacos — in a nod to Mendoza’s Manila roots — while Javelina serves three types of flour tortillas, including an “everything” with poppy seeds, sesame seeds, dried garlic and dried onion.
“It’s a New York take on a breakfast taco,” Post said.
Part of your routine
In the quest to convert New Yorkers to breakfast tacos, there’s still some work to be done (for instance, King David Tacos remains NYC’s only breakfast taco cart and is handily outnumbered by carts serving BECs). But restaurateurs like Post are optimistic that the Big Apple can become a breakfast taco town.
“I think New Yorkers, once they try it, will realize this is a much better option,” Post said. “I think it’s just more flavorful as well.”
In an effort to reach more people, Swell Dive plans to debut a take-away window this month to make it easier for commuters to grab breakfast tacos on their way to the nearby Bedford-Nostrand G station.
“They should be huge,” Stanford said. “I think once people realize how convenient grab-and-go breakfast tacos can be and make it part of their routine, it will be a huge hit.”
With Joseph Ellingham
Get your breakfast taco fix
The Upper East Side breakfast taco window is open Monday-Friday from 7:30-10 a.m., offering three types on flour, bacon-embedded or “everything” tortillas. You can also find breakfast tacos on the weekend brunch menu at both the UES and Union Square locations. ($4.50-$5/each at the window, $12-$17 for brunch; UES, 1395 Second Ave.; Union Square, 119 E. 18th St., javelinatexmex.com)
A menu of Tex-Mex and Filipino breakfast tacos are available Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on-site and via Postmates. Pair it with a cup of Toby’s Estate coffee. ($3-$4/each; 1013 Bedford Ave., Brooklyn, 917-652-4779, swelldive.nyc)
King David Tacos
The cart serves three types of Austin-style breakfast tacos (with a fourth — a take on migas — launching April 7) from Wall Street’s Mannahatta Park Monday-Friday from 6-10 a.m. and near Prospect Park Saturday from 7 a.m.-2 p.m. (hours expanding after April 7). Catering also available (minimum 25 tacos). ($3.95/each; Wall Street, Wall and Water streets; Prospect Park, Grand Army Plaza and Flatbush Avenue, kingdavidtacos.com)
After opening a stall in Brooklyn’s 2/3 Clark Street subway station in 2016, this taqueria expanded to a storefront near the Atlantic Terminal last year. Find the same menu of breakfast tacos at both locations served all day. ($4/each; Clark Street Subway, 100 Henry St., Brooklyn; 384 Schermerhorn St., Brooklyn, jalapajar.com)