Father & Son Austin Breakfast Taco tradition
By David Jaffe
Every Saturday morning starting when he was about 8, my son Gary and I ate breakfast tacos at a local place on Bee Cave Road, the C-5 Steakhouse. This was a chance for us to spend time together and talk about whatever was on his mind.
C-5 had one type of breakfast taco, with eggs, sausage, cheddar cheese and hash browns on a flour tortilla. We would always order the same way – 2 tacos plus coffee, orange juice and ice water for me; 1 taco plus orange juice for Gary (we would then split my second taco). The staff got to know us and would put up our order as soon as they saw us walk in. One time they were shorthanded for waiters but had open tables so we sat down and received our food before others even got their menus.
One Saturday morning when Gary was 15 we arrived at C-5 only to find a sign in the window notifying us that the restaurant had closed. It was like losing a family member. I put my arm around my son. Another customer came up and was equally shocked so we commiserated.
Gary had just received his learner’s permit and he needed driving experience so we decided to visit every joint in Austin that sells breakfasts tacos. Over the next several years we visited them all, from the well-known (Cisco’s, Juan in a Million, Taco Cabana) to the diviest of dives. We would drive down streets like South 1st, checking every strip mall for a Mexican restaurant with an “Open” sign. Or Gary would come back from a forensics tournament across town with news that he had discovered one we hadn’t checked out yet.
We can tell you who has the best chorizo, which places have a salsa verde that you have to ask for, where they have nopales. We have the “$10 rule”, which is that we spend a minimum of $10 for the two of us. So at places like Taquería Arandas, where tacos are like $2.29 for 3 tacos before 11 AM, the wait staff will get a big tip. We can get around in non-English speaking places (even before Gary took Spanish in college) but we did have some adventures, like at La Michoacana, which is a grocery store near Reagan H.S. that has a food counter, figuring out that we had to pay for the tacos in thecheckout line and then go back and pick them up.
Even after Gary went off to college we would still continue the tradition when he came home on break. We didn’t even need to discuss it, it was just, “What time should I wake you up tomorrow morning” on a Friday night.
Now that Gary is back in Austin after graduation we are back to the weekly routine. Last Saturday we hit an old favorite near his house, El Habañero Café. We like the folks there, the chorizo is tasty, the horchata some of the best in town and Gary likes their migas tacos.