Words by Ben Haguewood Photos by Ashley Haguewood
Sometimes you want more than the basic two-ingredient breakfast taco, ubiquitous in Austin from gas stations and trailers to chain restaurants, but you don’t want to make a serious study of an overly clever menu or test your stomach with curious ingredients before you’ve digested the morning news.
Paco’s Tacos strikes the welcome balance of familiar and distinct with a blend of traditional methods, ingredients, and made-to-order eggs, served in imaginative combinations with fresh updates on predictable toppings. Wrapped in their blended corn and flour tortillas, you can top them off with a rotating cast of seven house-made salsas, ranging from traditional red, green tomatillo, and creamy jalapeño to spicy Chile de Arbol and searing Habañero which is not for the timid.
The east Austin mainstay was a long time coming. Just minutes away from Margaret’s childhood home, Margaret and Alan Baldree have owned the 51st Street home that became Paco’s for nearly 25 years, long before they converted the living space to a cozy, multi-roomed dining area. The couple planned and tested menu items until their plans came together, and the timing was right. The goal was always to offer casual, comforting food that locals – including themselves – would want to eat.
Tacos make up the bulk of the menu, and breakfast is served all day. Diners can build their own taco, choosing from the twenty-plus items, or choose one of the menu’s signature combinations like the popular Flaco (spinach, egg, mushrooms, tomato, and cheese) or add an egg to any combination. The Hatch (hatch chiles, black beans, guacamole, cheese, and pico) and the filling Paco’s Pick (steak, potatoes, poblano, and grilled peppers) are favorites.
However, it’s not all meat and potatoes. Paco’s menu has evolved with Austin’s taste and is happy to use recent local purveyors, including vegan chorizo made from local chef-prepared Tempeh and High Brew coffee brewed by their east Austin neighbors.
If you have time to linger, the menu includes a full array of traditional plates, tortas, and gorditas, and take advantage of the generous Happy Hour (from 4-9pm, Tuesday-Friday), which is best enjoyed on the crushed granite patio, surrounded by sun-worn leather saddles, rusted horseshoes, and aging beverage signs tacked to the walls. But if you have to be in the office early, take it to go, and start the day replete with a taco worthy of being called a meal.
1304 E 51st St.