10 Breakfast Tacos and Burritos in NYC to Jump Out of Bed For
The pandemic has been a boom time for the Tex-Mex speciality.
Ten years ago, you might have been hard pressed to find a solid breakfast taco or burrito in NYC. The portable breakfast delicacies are abundant in the Southwest and are a pillar of Tex-Mex cuisine, but talk to any Southwestern transplant who’s lived in NYC for more than a few years, and they all have the same story of trying and failing to find an authentic breakfast taco in the Big Apple.
As these dishes finally make their way to the East Coast in a meaningful way (thanks to all those homesick Texans), what exactly makes a breakfast taco or burrito “authentic?”
“Classically, breakfast tacos consist of eggs either fried or scrambled, folded inside a flour tortilla along with some sort of salsa. Beans (either whole or refried), potatoes, meat, and cheese are all optional,” says Jackie Alpers, author of Taste of Tucson: Sonoran Style Recipes Inspired by the Rich Culture of Southern Arizona. Alpers adds that variations on the fillings can also include guacamole, French fries, bacon, pickled jalapeño slices, fresh cilantro, and more. And of course, vegetarian versions without meat abound.
Different regions have different versions of the specialty. For example, “in New Mexico, breakfast burritos typically come smothered in red and or green chile sauce and only in Sonoran style breakfast burros do you find 18” or larger tortillas used,” says Alpers.
So why have so many more restaurants across the city started to add breakfast tacos and burritos to their menus recently? “Tacos and burritos have always been cultivated by and for working people on the go,” says Alpers. Also, the past year has seen many eateries staying nimble with pandemic pivoting of their menus and concepts to keep afloat, in addition to a rise in popularity between Austin, Texas, and California-inspired eating, with everything from new summer Topo Chico flavors or Baja-style restaurants opening up.
Here are some of the best spots in NYC to score a tasty breakfast taco or burrito.
King David Tacos
The company that brought Austin-style breakfast tacos to NYC in a big way is opening its first brick-and-mortar spot on May 11. Previously only available via their park taco carts or at coffee shops like Hungry Ghost and Blank Street, KDT is leasing a large warehouse space mostly for the kitchen to continue their cart, wholesale, and catering ventures. But when Austin-born-and-bred founder Liz Solomon Dwyer saw its large patio space, she knew she had to carve out a small retail shop. KDT has a lineup of five breakfast tacos, all served with sides of red and green salsa and wrapped in five-inch Fiesta flour tortillas trucked in from Austin including the BPEC (applewood smoked bacon, potato, egg, and cheese), Queen Bean (homemade refried beans, potato, egg, and cheese), and No. 5 (KDT’s vegetarian chili non-carne, refried beans, and potato). The new location will also have Stumptown coffee, horchata, and horchata mixed with coffee, plus several non-breakfast items.
Like so many others, Stephen Starr launched a delivery-only venture during the pandemic for those in Lower Manhattan. Operating out of the El Vez kitchen—which had always done well with burritos—he set out to make “the best burritos on the Internet.” In a departure from his fine dining spots like Le Coucou and Upland, Starr said, "When we originally started brainstorming for Jackass Burrito, we wanted to target young, college-age Gen Z'ers who, I've been told by my kids, love ordering breakfast burritos. Whether as a late night snack after a frat party or for recovery the day after—breakfast burritos are a universal symbol of comfort.” The All Day Breakfast Burrito is loaded with scrambled eggs, cheese, bacon or chorizo, tater tots, salsa verde, salsa roja, and crema. You can add on guacamole and a variety of salsas like corn and poblano, habanero, or pineapple.
Alex Thaboua and Will Wyatt, the owners of Mister Paradise, a bar in the East Village, started selling Southern California-style burritos from the kitchen during the pandemic. Thaboua, who is from San Diego, wanted to bring something from his hometown to the East Coast, and the lineup includes four overstuffed breakfast options. The Breakfast Burrito has eggs, beans, and cheese; the Chorizo Burrito has eggs, chorizo, beans, cheese, and French fries; the Veggie Breakfast has eggs, chipotle portobello, beans, cheese, and French fries; and the Hot Rod has carne asada, eggs, bacon, beans, cheese, French fries, and crema. Pour on some of the spicy “orange sauce,” for the full experience. Things have gone so well, that in a few weeks, Electric Burrito will be getting its own space, just around the corner at 81 St. Marks.
What started as a pop-up last February by two San Antonio natives dismayed by the lack of good tacos in the city, improbably grew during the pandemic when founders Dave and Krystiana Rizo lost their other industry jobs (he at Superiority Burger and she at Emmy Squared). By November they had opened this permanent spot in the East Village, serving a variety of tacos, along with snacks, sides, and desserts like Spanish rice arancini with Oaxacan and cotija cheese, a tomatillo salad, and doughnuts in flavors like Piloncillo Peanut. On weekends they open early (9 am instead of 12) and offer breakfast tacos on fresh flour tortillas, filled with items like eggs, mesquite-smoked bacon, breakfast sausage, chorizo, potato, and migas scrambled with tomatoes, onions, and tortilla chips.
When customers from Eric See’s now-closed restaurant The Awkward Scone discovered he was from Albuquerque, it didn’t take long before they pressured him into making New Mexican-style breakfast burritos. So when he opened this hole-in-the-wall Crown Heights spot, Ursula, last fall, he decided to name it after his grandmother and devote the whole concept to authentic New Mexican food. Now, he serves breakfast burritos to a long line of customers Wednesday through Sunday mornings until noon—when a few stragglers inevitably arrive too late. But the early risers are rewarded with massive flour tortillas stuffed with scrambled eggs, hash browns, Cheddar, and either bacon, chorizo, or vegan pinto beans (without cheese), and smothered in either red or green New Mexican chile sauce. It’s likely the only New Mexican-style breakfast burrito in the five boroughs. And while technically they are on Caviar, they’re almost never actually available—your best bet is to just head over and get in line.
How to order: Available for pick-up or delivery via Caviar.
Blue Light Speak Cheesy
This Greenpoint pop-up started out just making grilled cheese but in July added double-decker breakfast tacos and a few months later, breakfast burritos, along with breakfast sandwiches. Then, they found a semi-permanent home inside Getaway Coffee, serving breakfast items there six mornings a week. Tuesdays are for tacos, which have a flour shell surrounding a crunchy hard shell with refried black beans and gooey cheddar cheese and are filled with scrambled eggs, soyrizo, avocado, crema, cilantro, radish, and cotija and served with hatch green chili salsa; while the burritos, filled with scrambled eggs, roasted fingerling potatoes, chipotle aioli, pepper jack cheese, organic spinach and crunchy lime cabbage, are on the menu on Thursdays.
How to order: Available for pick-up by calling 714-519-6374.
In January, Brooklyn drag queen Horrorchata and her partner Fischer Sherin began selling breakfast tacos on weekends at The Rosemont bar in Williamsburg. The pair use flour tortillas ordered from San Antonio producer La Milpa and fill them with things like migas, potato and egg, and beans, egg, and cheese. The tacos are served with red or green jalapeño salsa, or a mixture of the two.
How to order: In person only
Downtown Bakery Mexican Cocina
This longtime staple has been owned by a family of Mexican immigrants since the ’90s and in addition to dishes from the owners’ Pueblan heritage, there is an extensive breakfast burrito menu. Most-ordered renditions include the Potato Breakfast Burrito (eggs, potatoes, Monterey Jack cheese, refried beans, sour cream, and hot sauce in a flour tortilla) and the Ranchero Breakfast Burrito (eggs, green peppers, onions, tomatoes—but there are 13 to choose from.
Matt Hyland, co-owner of one of the city’s most beloved pizza joints, is a breakfast taco fan and decided to start a breakfast program at the Clinton Hill location for added revenue during tough times. He asked chef Sammy Pico to develop a line of breakfast tacos and burritos and in February they launched with tacos and burritos made with Myers Produce eggs, Grafton cheddar, and Broadbent bacon and sausage. The tacos use blue corn tortillas from Tortilleria Nixtamal in Queens and have scrambled eggs with Cheddar and either bacon, sausage, or arugula and caramelized onion, and the burritos have scrambled eggs, Cheddar, French fries, onions, jalapeños, and either bacon, sausage, or arugula with caramelized onion. Each comes with a choice of red, green, or “Emmy” sauce.
How to order: Available for pick-up or delivery via Caviar.
Instead of the typical egg and cheese sandwich found at other NYC bodegas, this Mexican-run one in Gowanus has some of the most authentic Mexican tacos around, including egg-filled breakfast ones. Head to the diminutive red counter off to one side and select from tacos with eggs and cheese (choose queso blanco, American, or Monterey Jack) and add chorizo or bacon if you like. Best part is, they not only make four breakfast burrito varieties, but also have breakfast quesadillas and breakfast huaraches on the menu, both with either eggs, eggs and chorizo, or huevos a la Mexicana, which has onions, peppers, jalapeños, tomato, Oaxaca Cheese and avocado.
How to order: Available for pick-up by calling 718-369-3211.