When people talk about breakfast in Austin, they usually toss in a third word: tacos. And while this city does indeed boast an embarrassment of tortilla-wrapped riches, breakfast can also be a stack of pancakes at one of Austin’s funky, laid-back diners, a bag of the stuffed Czech pastries called kolache, or, upon occasion, a Lone Star beer cracked while waiting in line for the world’s best barbecue. The ultimate Austin breakfast combines all of these. It’s a tour of the city’s best breakfast tacos punctuated by old school breakfast counters and hipster food trucks. It’s killer coffee, stout bloody marys, heavenly pancakes, and quite possibly the world’s best bacon. Y’all hungry?
Veracruz All-Natural, Migas
Migas, a mixture of tortilla strips, scrambled eggs, jalapeños, onions, tomatoes, and cheese, are a breakfast taco staple—and no one does them better than Veracruz. What makes them so good? Some sort of witchcraft ensures the tortilla strips actually stay crispy in the mix, and a healthy wedge of avocado doesn’t hurt, either.
Joe’s Bakery, Bacon
This Eastside cafe has been open and run by the same family since the ‘60s, and part of their longevity is thanks to their legendary crispy bacon. It’s not fried, they swear, but the lightly-floured and griddled bacon will have you rethinking this seemingly simple breakfast staple.
While not technically a breakfast food, barbecue often finds a back door into the most important meal of the day. One stunning example are the barbecue-stuffed kolaches from Kerlin BBQ—so popular Bill Kerlin is opening a dedicated kolache stand. Try the chopped brisket variation.
Fresa’s, Agua fresca
There are a million and one breakfast taco joints in Austin, and many of them serve aguas frescas, a lightly sweetened Mexican juice drink. But Fresa’s makes a particularly fresh and flavorful variation, and while horchata may be the most popular flavor, fruit variations like the watermelon-y Sandía are where it’s at.
Magnolia Cafe, Gingerbread Pancakes
Magnolia Cafe is an Austin tradition. They’re open 24 hours a day—their slogan is “Sorry, we’re open”—and their rightfully famous pancakes are available every single one of them. They come in four flavors, but the favorite here is the gingerbread. Try it topped with pecans.
El Primo, Breakfast Taco
This South Austin taco truck is one of the best in town for straightforward, get ‘em how you like ‘em breakfast tacos. They make a lot of other stuff, too, including lunch tacos and rare-for-Austin breakfast burritos, but the move here is chorizo, egg, and cheese on flour.
24 Diner, Chicken and Waffles
People wait on the sidewalk for this downtown diner’s signature dish: yeasty waffles topped with brown sugar butter and more fried chicken than you can probably eat in one sitting. Pro tip: get a half order (you’ll have the option of white or dark meat) and two eggs on the side. When the food comes, put the eggs on top of the fried chicken and douse the whole thing in hot sauce. You’re welcome.
While most of the venues on this list will offer you a decent cup of coffee, Houndstooth will make you a cup that’s next level. While they’ve expanded to Dallas (and soon Houston), the original Houndstooth on North Lamar is some of the best coffee in town.
Paperboy, Hash Bowl
Paperboy is a hipster breakfast dream come true. While you can’t really go wrong with anything on the menu at this sunny food truck, one favorite here is the hash. Spiked with pepper and onions, the pork belly hash is really made by its silky pecan mole sauce.
Frank, Bloody Mary
There are excellent bloody marys across town, but for an over-the-top bloody that actually tastes good, it has to be Frank. First they infuse the vodka—from hometown favorite Tito’s, naturally—with bacon, and combine it with their house mix. Then comes the topping: cheddar cheese, a jalapeño-stuffed olive, peperoncini, and more bacon. They’ll make it for you with “regular ol’ boring vodka,” if you like, but why would you?
Valentina’s, Real Deal Holyfield Taco
Finally, one last breakfast taco—and one last nod to Texas barbecue. Valentina’s is famous for combining Tex-Mex and barbecue, and their Real Deal Holyfield taco is the pinacle of the concept. A fried egg topped with fiery serrano salsa, potatoes, refried beans, bacon and a choice of brisket or pulled pork? You’re gonna need a nap after this one.