What's Austin's most important export: its music, its technology ... or its breakfast tacos?
The way author and Latino marketing consultant Mando Rayo sees it, the Austin breakfast taco is on par with the city itself in terms of significance. He should know – he’s eaten over 500 different breakfast tacos.
"The breakfast taco itself is the story of the people and history of Austin," Rayo says. And as Austin has grown, so has its breakfast tacos. "It is rooted in the old, Mexican tradition, but it has evolved into something new,” he says. “Austin is a unique, creative town that likes to try different things – whether it is kale, spinach or fettuccine."
What Rayo and Jarod Neece begna as a "taco blog," Taco Journalism, is now a book: "Austin Breakfast Tacos: The Story of the Most Important Taco of the Day." It features restaurant reviews, recipes and reminiscences from a wide cross-section of Austin: everyone from BBQ pitmaster Aaron Franklin and Top Chef Paul Qui to Alamo Drafthouse founder Tim League and City Council member Mike Martinez.
Rayo hopes the book reads not only as a love letter to breakfast tacos, but also "a big nod" to Austin’s Mexican culture.
"When people think of breakfast tacos, they don't necessarily think of Mexico or Mexican food, but they do think Austin," Rayo says. "I want to make sure that people understand and know a little bit about the history of where this food comes from, who's cooking it and where the inspiration is coming from."
A few KUT journalists were lucky enough to take a taco tour with Rayo. They traveled to five of Rayo’s favorite places:
Rayo also came by the KUT studios to talk about Austin’s taco scene; listen to that conversation in the audio player above.