The End of Austin

an exploration of urban identity in the middle of Texas

Breakfast Taco Wars: Race, History, and Food in Austin and San Antonio



Photo by Christopher Scott Sierra

When New York-based writer Matthew Sedacca made the claim that Austinites invented the phrase “breakfast taco”, he probably did not expect the level of outrage that he received from San Antonians and other South Texans. He certainly could not have anticipated that there would be a petition calling for him to be exiled from the state.[1] Sedacca had stepped into a broader, long simmering resentment against “Austin exceptionalism,” the sense that Austin is a uniquely progressive, creative and successful city, set apart from the rest of Texas.[2] Plenty of writers both inside and outside of the state have challenged this myth, but it’s fair to say that Austin boosters have found ways to creatively repackage aspects of Texas culture—from barbeque to cowboy boots, and make these things cool for the rest of the country. But then Austin claimed the breakfast taco, and San Antonians could take no more.


San Antonio is my hometown, and the city I continue to research in my academic work. But I have also spent the last twenty years living and working in Austin, and have integrated the city’s history and culture into my teaching and research as well. At this point I have lived in Austin longer than I lived in San Antonio, so for personal and professional reasons I’m deeply attached to both places. I closely followed this “breakfast taco war,” because for me it was about much more than tacos.

To clarify: why San Antonians in particular were so offended by the assertion that Austin invented the phrase breakfast taco was most clearly explained by Gustavo Arellano, journalist and author of Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America. As Arellano notes, San Antonians resented Austin for appropriating what many feel is their cultural heritage. In a subsequent interview, he also notes: “San Antonio has always been a Mexican city compared to Austin’s lily-white image. That’s the underlying tension in this breakfast taco debate.”[3]

Arellano’s comment drew me to investigate this intra-city feud further. This is about cultural appropriation, but it’s also more complex, and to understand how San Antonio has been defined as a “Mexican” city and Austin as “white” requires a deeper understanding of the social forces that have shaped these two places over time. In this essay, I explore some things that these two cities share, how they diverge, and what this has to do with mexicanidad.[4]

Cities become associated with particular ethnic communities through a combination of history and demography. These associations are also deliberately shaped by those who plan, govern, and sell the city—the public and private developers and the politicians and boosters who promote the city to both locals and tourists. This combination of social actors contributed to how San Antonio and Austin were developed and imagined.

In 1718, the city which became San Antonio was officially founded by Spanish missionaries and soldiers with the establishment of the Presidio San Antonio de Béxar, on the west side of the San Antonio River, along with the establishment of the Misión de San Antonio de Valero, later known as “The Alamo”.[5] At that time, the village was most frequently known as “Béxar” and became the largest Spanish settlement in Texas. When Mexicans led a successful revolution against Spain in 1810, this province would then become part of a new Mexican nation,

But Béxar’s status changed dramatically with the Texas Revolution that followed two decades later. Béxar’s native Tejano community would now be labelled a “suspect class” of potential insurrectionists by many Anglo-Americans leading the war.[6] Immediately after the battle of San Jacinto, the Texas army made efforts to raze the town. Béxar was saved only by the efforts of its Mayor Juan Seguín and the pardon of President Sam Houston. Under the new Texas government, Béxar became San Antonio, and was re-organized as part of the Texas Republic. However, even as the town changed its political identity, many Anglo Texans would continue to consider San Antonio a dangerous frontier. The persecution of Tejanos continued, and even Seguín himself would eventually be forced to flee into Mexico.

While San Antonians were experiencing the greatest damage from “the war of Texas secession” as scholar Raúl Ramos calls it, the new political leaders of the Republic were looking for a capital. In 1836 Mirabeau Lamar sent a party of four men to locate the site. In 1839 they selected the town of Waterloo. Like Béxar before it, this location was chosen for its rivers, its fertile land and other natural resources. Officially chartered in 1839, Waterloo became Austin, and as the capital, the center of a new republic dominated by Anglo Texans, while San Antonio was a reminder of the Mexican history that this nation was trying to forget.

Yet Austin’s status would also be unstable after the war. When the Mexican army briefly re-captured San Antonio in 1842, President Sam Houston had some additional concern that the Mexican army would continue to advance to Austin, and ordered the national archives be transferred to Houston for safekeeping. The president thought that Austin, like San Antonio, was too close to Mexico, and too sparsely populated to adequately defend itself. And so Austinites, like San Antonians before them, would have to launch their own fight to stay in place. Fearing that removing vital government records would amount to choosing a new capital, they refused to relinquish the archives. The capital was indeed temporarily relocated, but eventually restored to Austin at the end of the Mexican American War and Texas Annexation, although the city did not officially become the state capital until 1872.

After Texas’ annexation and the Mexican American war, San Antonio would grow rapidly, becoming the state’s largest city by 1900. Anglo and German newcomers would displace the city’s Tejano population, who would rapidly become a disempowered minority—losing lives, land, and status. By 1860 Tejanos made up only 35% of the city’s population.[7] In the three decades that followed, the railroad and capitalism would transform San Antonio into an American city, spatially organized around the Alamo as the “shrine of Texas liberty,” a symbol of Anglo martyrdom and Manifest destiny. [8]

However, San Antonio boosters would continue to define the city in terms of its Mexicanness. They would sell the city as “the old capital of Mexican life and influence,” and would feature Mexican American cultural practices as a spectacle for tourists.[9] Anglo American visitors would come to San Antonio’s downtown plazas to eat at the city’s chili stands. Along with tamale vendors in Los Angeles, these mexicana vendors in San Antonio help establish the Mexican American food industry in the United States.[10] Over the next decades this “exotic street food” came to define culinary tourism in San Antonio. So in a form of imperialist nostalgia, the city’s tourists and boosters would both celebrate and mourn the passing of what they helped transform.[11]

Austin also grew after the Civil War, though not at the same rate as San Antonio. Austin had a vocal anti-growth movement that rejected tenements and other forms of public housing which might have housed low-wage factory workers. As Maggie Tate notes, “Instead of building an industrial city, Austin was promoted as a residential mecca,” and implementing racial segregation was part of selling the city to white newcomers.[12] Although increasing numbers of African Americans and new immigrants would come to the city, Austin was primarily organized around serving its white politicians and students, and expanding services for these institutions.[13] The current Capitol building would be completed in 1888, and shortly before this the legislature had determined that Austin would also be the site for the state’s flagship university, The University of Texas, in 1883.[14] The regents of this university, entrenched in “the southern traditions of slavery, segregation and Jim Crow” created a whites only institution until 1950, although a few Mexican Americans enrolled.[15] In addition, the state’s Democratic Party, which dominated the state after Reconstruction, would dedicate itself to white supremacy and state’s rights. So, while San Antonio was portrayed as a relic of the region’s Mexican past, Austin was designed to support a white-dominated present.

In spite of this, both African and Mexican American communities lived throughout Austin at the turn of the twentieth century. This changed dramatically in 1928, when a new city council plan transformed racial segregation in the city. In an effort to draw new white residents, the plan called for enforcing segregation by making locating all schools and other public services for African Americans east of East Avenue, the road that would eventually become I35.[16] This division of East and West Austin continues to define the city to this day. In addition, Austin started developing a new “tri-racial” form of segregation, in order to contain a growing Latino population. As Eliot Tretter notes “the discriminatory language in private covenants and deed restrictions shifted from “no people of African descent” to “Caucasian only” — a phrase that would segregate against Hispanic and African-American alike.” [17] As Straubhaar notes, “Austin’s white elite did everything they could to preserve their real wealth in terms of real estate by reinforcing the segregation of minorities to less-desirable property.”[18]

San Antonio was also a starkly segregated city in the early twentieth century, with African American communities concentrated on the east side and Mexican Americans living in the “Latin Quarter” of the city’s west side.[19] However, San Antonio’s demographic profile was once again changing dramatically, and this change was partly related to events in Mexico. The Mexican Revolution would transform the city, as thousands of political exiles came to San Antonio and revitalized the city’s cultural ties to Mexico.[20] Many of these new migrants would come as laborers, but a small minority would have the resources to establish Spanish-language newspapers and work in skilled trades and professions. The city would have a viable, if small, Mexican American middle class by the 1930s, and this community would create powerful political organizations like LULAC, and would be a center of a developing Mexican American cultural and political consciousness.[21] So San Antonio would now not only be known for its Spanish/Mexican past, but also its emerging Mexican American present.

As we move further into the twentieth century, both cities would remain non-industrial, and would often be portrayed in national media as sleepy, insulated towns. They would both offer strong middle class public sector employment in education, government and military institutions, but would be a contrast to the economic boom towns of Dallas and Houston.

The economic development of each city would also differ in important ways though. By mid-century San Antonio was a city in decline, with slow population growth and a high rate of poverty, San Antonio boosters continued to focus on tourism as part of the effort to revitalize the city. In 1968, San Antonio hosted Hemisfair, and with the theme of a “confluence of civilizations,” which defined the city as a cultural center between the United States and Latin America. Once again, San Antonio would be celebrated for its proximity to Mexico, not as a relic of the past, but a city at the intersection of modern global commerce. Most San Antonians did not benefit from this vision, however. At the same time as the fair, San Antonio had the lowest per-capita income of any major city in the country.[22] By this time Mexican Americans would once-again be the majority of the city’s residents, but the Civil Rights Hearings held in San Antonio that year would also render a portrait of a city where Mexican Americans were treated, as journalist Ruben Salazar would put it, as “strangers in their own land.”[23]

However, in the decade that followed a new generation of Chicana/o organizations would culturally and politically revitalize San Antonio’s Mexican American community. They would transform the city’s political system by initiating district-based city council elections (ensuring that more non-Anglo representatives would sit on city council). Chicana/o artists, writers and musicians would also flourish on the city’s West side, reclaiming traditions and creating new cultural identities. This new assertion of cultural pride would have great influence on the broader Chicana/o movement. As David Montejano notes “a notable share of the political organizing in Latino communities in the United States can trace a lineage to the Chicano organizations and activists of San Antonio in the seventies.”[24] While the heart of this movement would be in the city’s West side, eventually this would lead to San Antonio being the first major city to elect a Mexican American mayor, Henry Cisneros, in 1981. From this point onward, the city has been led by a bicultural alliance of the city’s Anglo and Mexican American middle class, and the city has been defined by a “politics of inclusion.”[25]

Austin has been popularly known as a liberal oasis in a conservative state, or the “blueberry” in the tomato soup of Texas, as former Governor Rick Perry put it. Yet this metaphor masks that, in terms of racial integration, Austin’s African and Mexican American leaders have had a greater struggle to overcome than several other Texas cities. University of Texas Professor of Anthropology Cecilia Ballí, writing for Texas Monthly, questioned whether Austin might be the state’s most segregated city, and notes the invisibility of Latinos in many of the city’s popular establishments. She notes that, until two years ago, Austin was the only major U.S. city with an at-large system of city council elections, where Austinites voted for representatives for the city as a whole, rather than particular districts. This system had ensured that Austin’s council members would be predominantly white, and usually from the wealthiest central and west Austin neighborhoods as well. [26] (This system, with mostly white representatives along with a few “token” African American and Latino slots, was similar to the one that San Antonio had before 1977).

Part of Austin’s struggle for racial equity is connected to its own distinct pattern of economic growth. Austin planners would encourage the growth of both the high tech and music industries. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the university’s engineering school and other resources would attract IBM, Motorola and Texas Instruments, which would be the foundation for the growth in tech companies in later decades as well. Austin developers made explicit plans to focus on technology to complement existing jobs at the University of Texas and state government.[27] As a college town, Austin was also the ideal setting for the establishment of South By Southwest, which would help make the city the “live music capital” of the state.[28]

However, the population boom that has been transforming Austin the past several decades has not radically changed the prospects of many longtime residents. In particular, East Austin and South Austin have largely been “shut out of the economic benefits of the high-technology economy.” [29] The service jobs can’t keep up with the rising cost of living in the city. In addition, gentrification is now transforming East Austin as well. The historically African American and Mexican American neighborhoods are losing their residents at alarming rates. As an example, Eric Tang, UT Professor of African and African Diaspora Studies, noted that between 2000 and 2010 in the neighborhood east of Huston Tillotson University, Austin’s black population declined by 60 percent, the Latino population by 33 percent, and the white population increased by 442 percent.[30] He also noted in his 2014 study that Austin is the only one of the nation’s ten fastest growing major cities that is losing its African American population, experiencing a decline of 5.4%.[31]

Gentrification has impacted the city’s Mexican American communities as well. A commentary in the Austin American Statesman written by performance artist Jesus I. Valles and professor Roxanne Schroeder-Arce notes the effects of the rapid transformation of Rainey Street on the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center (MACC). They comment that affluent residents of the neighborhood’s new condos seem to mistake this cultural center for a dog park, and that this is connected to the broader displacement of the city’s Latinos, as “Children have had to shuffle across school district lines so that a 30-something musician with startup money can enjoy the Austin skyline on the rooftop amenity deck, looking down at other Rainey Street bar patrons.”[32] Although Austin has many vibrant black and Latina/o cultural institutions, they are only at the margins of the city’s dominant public culture. This, in spite of the fact that although the national image of Austin is “lily white,” the reality is that Austin is becoming more ethnically diverse. The City’s Anglo population has dropped below 50%, Latinos now make up approximately 35% of the population, and soon the city will be a “no majority” city, meaning that no ethnic group exists as a majority of the City’s population.[33]

And this brings us back, once again, to issues of race, tacos and tourism. As Ballí noted in her article, “Austin’s fixation with tacos and migas and queso (“kay-so”) seemed to me a way for locals to fetishize a world most of them didn’t regularly engage with.”[34] Ultimately however, Austinites were not particularly interested in the breakfast taco wars, as shown by the fact that when San Antonio chef Johnny Hernandez challenged Austin to a “taco throwdown” at SXSW Interactive this year, no Austin chef bothered to show up[35]. Meanwhile San Antonians continued to be more invested in this debate.

So why do so many San Antonians continue to take this seriously? Here’s my guess: as over 60% of the population, San Antonio’s Mexican American community continues to assert pride in this city as a Mexican American cultural capital, and this has been important to many of the city’s Anglos as well, who for decades have engaged in Mexican American cultural practices– from celebrating Día de los Muertos to eating tamales on Christmas eve– as a performative language for expressing their sense of belonging to the city.[36] While one might consider this cultural appropriation (and sometimes maybe it is), these practices play out differently in the context of a city where there is a prominent Mexican American middle class that is not only integrated, but dominates the city’s public culture.

Historically, the city has also relied on its image as a Mexican “land of mañana” to sell itself to tourists, but now this market has been challenged by its regional rival. Post-Slacker Austin is now the place in Texas that is known for its laid back atmosphere, its constant festivals and interesting street food. As an article in the Atlantic noted, in 2010, more than half of the tax revenue generated by Austin’s creative sector came from tourism.[37] It seems like the party has moved to Austin.

But in the process, Mexican Americans have once again been rendered less visible—in both cities.

This year a Huffpost blogger, in a misguided attempt to compliment San Antonio, defined it as “the new Austin.” Why did she claim that San Antonio was the New Austin? Well, partly because a number of IT companies have moved to the city, but also this: “The city has certainly changed a lot from the Mexican outpost it once was, to a more sophisticated venue. We never even ate Mexican food!” [38] Raza picked up on this backhanded compliment pretty quickly, as you can read in the article’s comment section.

While one could credit this to yet another tourist writing a poorly-researched blog, what was more disturbing was an article in the San Antonio Current “Badass” issue, where they highlighted many city luminaries and pioneers, but neglected to include a single Mexican American on the list, in spite of the cover image showing these leaders sitting at a “last supper” like table filled with comida mexicana, including, yes, tacos. As San Antonian Marilyn Espinosa commented, this article failed to recognize “the Latino and Chicano community here in San Antonio. You have our comida and our cultural velas (candles) in the illustration but not a single Hispanic on the ‘badass’ list, if that’s not cultural appropriation I don’t know what is.”[39] To their credit, the Current editorial staff wrote an extended apology the following month, but this highlights a larger problem, an overlooking of Mexican American people that happens again and again, powerfully noted by Dagoberto Gilb in the Texas Observer.[40] The fact that this blunder appeared in San Antonio made the insult particularly painful.

And Mexican Americans were also invisible on the Austin side of this intra-city taco war. The controversy about cultural appropriation of tacos too-quickly ignored that several of the featured Austin taco establishments are Latino-owned, like Tacodeli and the Tamale house. Austin does have its own long history of Latino family businesses, from Cisco’s to Joe’s Bakery to Matt’s El Rancho, and many others that have managed to survive the onslaught of new Torchy’s locations.[41] They are part of a vibrant Latino community that has persisted, and even grown, in spite of Austin’s rapid transformation.

Right now, San Antonio and Austin share much in common. They are boomtowns, two of the nation’s fastest growing cities. In 2015 Austin was the fastest growing large metro area, San Antonio came in sixth (and yeah, Dallas and Houston are in the mix too). However this growth has been quite uneven, and both cities also lead the nation in segregation and economic inequality. Currently San Antonio is at the top in terms of economic inequality.[42] Last year Austin was the most economically segregated city in the country.[43] The cities have the same problems, and the same potential, and as both cities’ draw closer together, the questions will be how to make this growth more equitable.

When I think about the challenges facing these cities, I compare two restaurants. In San Antonio, it’s Pico de Gallo, which is part of a trio of restaurants that serve a lot of both locals and tourists. Pico de Gallo, situated west of the city’s downtown district, draws a more local crowd. If you’re not used to San Anto Tex-Mex décor, the scene might be a little overwhelming—the wide rooms crowded with multicolored lights, papel picado, sombreros and oversized margaritas. But one of the most notable features is Artist Armando Sanchez’s 33-foot long mural that includes San Antonio’s long history of Mexican American leaders, from Henry B. Gonzalez to the Castro family today. The mural tells the story of the ascent of San Antonio’s Mexican American political elite. It’s also a reminder that these leaders have proudly reclaimed what was once a tourist-driven Spanish heritage fantasy. The question that San Antonians need to address is whether this image of inclusion is merely illusory, as Rodolfo Rosales suggests, or if it is the beginning of a more powerful social and political transformation of the city—one that would more evenly benefit all of its residents.[44]

In Austin, the place that comes to mind is Las Manitas, which was just a few blocks from the Capitol on Congress Avenue. From the time it opened in 1981, this small restaurant became a popular gathering spot for everyone from famous politicians and musicians, to day laborers and university students like myself. One time I was fortunate to catch Ann Richards there. And it was classic Austin—a modest, laid back hole in the wall filled with fliers for upcoming cultural events and local bands. You had to go through the kitchen to get to the patio or to the bathroom. Restaurant owners Lidia and Cynthia Pérez called it “the University of Rice and Beans,” and it was well known for supporting their employees’ education and funding their local nonprofit for Latino arts, La Peña.[45] When the property owners told the restaurant that they would have to leave in order to make way for a new JW Marriott Hotel, there was a long fight to try to save it, but it closed in 2008. The question that remains for Austinites is whether or not a similar place can exist in the heart of Austin again. A place that served great tacos (and migas and fried plantains) as part of the work of social justice.

Laura Hernandez-Ehrisman is Associate Professor in the Department of University Studies at St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas. She received her PhD in the American Studies Department at the University of Texas at Austin in 2003. In her book Inventing the Fiesta City: Heritage and Carnival in San Antonio, she studied the history of San Antonio’s biggest cultural festival, Fiesta, and the particular struggles of women and Mexican Americans for inclusion in the city’s public culture.

[1] The original blog post was Matthew Sedacca’s “How Austin Became the Home of the Crucial Breakfast Taco: The history of the city’s beloved morning dish.” February 19, 2016 Eater Austin. The subsequent call to exile the writer was published through by Robbie Rogers “Exile Matthew Sedacca from Texas for Taco Negligence.”

[2] Maggie Tate references this idea of Austin exceptionalism in “Austin in Sociohistorical Context.” In Invisible Austin: Life and Labor in an American City (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2015), 23.

[3] Gustavo Arellano’s original commentary is “Who Invented Breakfast Tacos? Not Austin—And People Should STFU About It.” OC Weekly, February 23, 2016. Charles Scudder then quotes Arellano in his article: “Why Austin’s breakfast taco feud is a form of microaggression”, Februrary 26, 2016.

[4] Mexicanidad here refers to “mexicanness,” or having to do with Mexican culture and identity.

[5] Char Miller, Deep in the Heart of San Antonio (San Antonio: Trinity University Press, 2004), 43.

[6] Raúl Ramos, Beyond the Alamo: Forging Mexican Ethnicity in San Antonio, 1821-1861 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2008), 167-168.

[7] Ramos 207.

[8] Richard Flores, Remembering the Alamo: Memory, Modernity and the Master Symbol (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2002), 51.

[9] Max Sylvius Handman, “San Antonio: The Old Capital City of Mexican Life and Influence” Survey 66 May 1, 1931, 163. Quoted in Daniel Arreola Tejano South Texas: A Mexican American Cultural Province (Austin: University of Texas, 2002), 131. Also see Flores, p.49.

[10] Jeffrey Pilcher, Planet Taco: A Global History of Mexican Food (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012), 105.

[11] Renato Rosaldo describes imperialist nostalgia as the ways that agents of colonization display nostalgia for the cultural traditions that they are displacing. Representations No. 26, Special Issue: Memory and Counter-Memory (Spring, 1989), 107-122

[12] Tate 26.

[13] Barry Shank notes this in Dissonant Identities: The Rock’n’Roll Scene in Austin Texas (Hanover: Wesleyan University Press, 1994), 11.

[14] Tate 36.

[15] Dwonna Goldstone, Integrating the 40 Acres: The Fifty-Year Struggle for Racial Equality at the University of Texas (Athens: University of Georgia Press 2006) 6.

[16] Dan Zehr. “Inheriting Inequality” Austin American Statesman Online Project 2015. Tate 27-28.

[17] Dan Zehr. “How Austin Isolated Latinos with a Unique form of Segregation” Austin American Statesman January 18, 2015. Eliot Tretter “Austin Restricted: Progressivism, Zoning, Private Racial Covenants, and the Making of a Segregated City” Final Report to the Institute for Urban Policy Research and Analysis, 2015.

[18] Jeremiah Spence, Joseph Straubhaar, Zeynep Tufekni, Alexander Cho and Dean Graber “Structuring Race in the Cultural Geography of Austin” in Inequity in Technopolis, (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2013) 36.

[19] Mason, Kenneth. African Americans and Race Relations in San Antonio, Texas, 1867-1937 (New York: Routledge 1998) , Richard Garcia, Rise of the Mexican American Middle Class San Antonio, 1929-1941 (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2000).

[20] Garcia.

[21] Garcia.

[22] Timothy Palmer. “Hemisfair’68 The Confluence of Politics in San Antonio”. Master’s Thesis, The University of Texas at Austin, 1990.

[23] Rubén Salazar, Stranger in One’s Land (Washington D.C.: U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1970).

[24] David Montejano Quixote’s Soldiers: A Local History of the Chicano Movement, 1966-1981(Austin: University of Texas Press, 2010), 6.

[25] Rodolfo Rosales, The Illusion of Inclusion: The Untold Political Story of San Antonio (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2000).

[26] Cecilia Ballí, “What Nobody Says about Austin: Is Austin the State’s Most Segregated City?” Texas Monthly February 2013.

[27] Lisa Hartenberger, Zeynep Tufekci, and Stuart Davis. “A history of high tech and the technopolis in Austin” Inequity in Technopolis, (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2013) ,67.

[28] Michael Hall, “City of the Eternal Boom” Texas Monthly, March 2016.

[29] Holstein, W. “A tale of two Austins: How one boomtown is coping with the growing wealth gap.”

U.S. News and World Report, February 21. The article notes that East Austin in particular has been shut out of the economic benefits of the high-technology economy.

[30] Makeda Easter, “State of Black Austin Tied to Swiftly Gentrifying East Austin’ Texas Observer Feb 29, 2016.

[31] Eric Tang, and Chunhui Ren. “Outlier: The Case of Austin’s Declining AfricanAmerican Population” May 8, 2014,. The institute for Urban Policy Research and Analysis. University of Texas at Austin.

[32] “Commentary: Too many Austinites think the MACC is a dog park” Austin American Statesman, May 17, 2016.

[33] “Top ten demographic trends in Austin, Texas”.

[34] Ballí.

[35] Edmund Tijerina, “Texas Taco War a forfeit: Austin didn’t show up in Austin” San Antonio Express-News March 11, 2016.

[36] Laura Hernandez-Ehrisman Inventing the Fiesta City: Heritage and Carnival in San Antonio. (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2008) 125-126.

[37] Elahe Izadi. “Austin’s Weird Festival-Based Economy” The Atlantic October 2, 2013.

[38] Sidonie Sawyer, “24 Hours in San Antonio (the New Austin), Texas,” The Huffington Post April 10, 2016.

[39] San Antonio Current Staff “Where Do We Go from Here?: On Transparency, Diversity and Inclusion” San Antonio Current, April 13, 2016.

[40] Dagoberto Gilb “The 66 Percent: Erasing Mexican Americans in the United States” Texas Observer May 17, 2016.

[41] Melanie Haupt, Historic Austin Restaurants: Capital Cuisine through the Generations (Charleston: American Palate 2013), 60-62.

[42] Express News Editorial Board, “Once Again, San Antonio Leads in Inequality” San Antonio Express News March 19, 2016.

[43] Dan Zehr, “Report: Austin most economically segregated major metro area in U.S.” Austin American Statesman February 23, 2015.

[44] Rosales notes that in spite of a prominent Mexican American middle class, the city’s growth excludes many of the city’s Chicano poor and working class communities.

[45] Haupt 98.

8 comments on “Breakfast Taco Wars: Race, History, and Food in Austin and San Antonio

  1. Fran Torres-Lopez
    September 23, 2016

    Loved this article especially how it captured the details but knitted them together into a coherent story. The article mentions a restaurant in San Antonio called “Pico de Gallo”. However, the mural described as being in that restaurant sounds a lot like the mural inside of the restaurant named “Mi Tierra”. I haven’t been to Pico de Gallo in awhile but I wonder if Mi Tierra is the restaurant being referenced.

  2. Anthony
    September 25, 2016

    This really isn’t this serious people nor do we have to delve into the two cities histories to find out who is the real “breakfast taco king”. This is why… Culturally, San Antonio is Tejano, not Mexican. Ever try finding Mexican food in San Antonio (like real Mexican food you’d find in Mexico)? You won’t really come across it. You’ll find Tex Mex on just about every corner though. Moving forward to my next point… Let’s say the experts calling San Antonio a truly Mexican city are right and completely ignore the Tejano aspect, is that still an argument for why San Antonio should win the war for breakfast tacos? Breakfast tacos are not Mexican. Breakfast tacos are not a staple in the diet of a person from Mexico. It is truly a south Texas thing. I mean, it wouldn’t surprise me if the first time the breakfast taco branding was used was on a box of frozen eggs wrapped in a tortillas that you would buy at a supermarket’s frozen section next to the chimichangas. Again, another reason why there not need be a “war”over this. Can’t we just say that south Texas has the best breakfast tacos and depending on your particular taste, you may like them from San Antonio or Austin? Does there have to be this much hate?

    • Bryan
      April 29, 2022

      Los Comales in Mercedes, TX! Yes. The south does it the best!

  3. Anthony
    September 25, 2016

    Sorry, just posted this because I didn’t check off to notify me of comments via email.

  4. KevLev
    September 25, 2016

    White people always taking credit for other peoples shit. Never phases me.

  5. virginia
    September 25, 2016

    The mural Laura references is at Pico de Gallo for sure, just west of IH35, just north of the downtown campus of UTSA. Same owners as Mi Tierra.

  6. z d
    September 25, 2016

    this is an EXCELLENT article. seriously very nice work.

  7. Pingback: Texas Month-to-month barbecue editor chews the extra fat on the most popular regional spots | suspensionespresso

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This entry was posted on September 22, 2016 by in food, hipster, History, Mexican American, Race, San Antonio and tagged , , , .
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