Breakfast tacos are a simple concept: scrambled eggs, cheese, some sort of early-morning meat, a four tortilla. So why has it taken so long for Los Angeles to begin embracing the long-held Lone Star State dish?
Thankfully, breakfast tacos are on the rise in L.A. First, there was the outsized version found at downtown’s Bar Ama, chef Josef Centeno’s ode to all things Tex-Mex. Blistered in spots, gigantic throughout and softly scrambled into a forkful of bliss, the larger-than-life introduction for urbanites unfamiliar with the meal has been a success. It’s a talked-about dish now, along with many of Bar Ama’s other Southern Texas specialties, and helped to start a larger conversation about the withering lack of true Tex-Mex flavors in our own Southland.
As of late, Noah Galuten, Kevin Bludso and his team of barbecue masters have taken to recreating their own breakfast tacos at Bludso’s Bar & Cue on La Brea. As a more full-service, expansive option to Bludso’s original Compton walk-up, head meat-master at the West Hollywood outpost Galuten has begun providing weekends full of eggy tacos. Born out of co-owner Bludso’s own Hill Country tradition, the breakfast snacks found here are smaller and more straightforward, but no less popular — especially on early-morning college football days.
Which brings us to HomeState, the necessary third ring of breakfast taco expansion in Los Angeles. Spawned from the ashes of Storefront, a simple and popular quick-service deli concept from the Salt’s Cure guys, HomeState leans heavily on its own Austin-area heritage, serving all-day breakfast, a small selection of lunch-only sandwiches, and the usual array of kolaches, quesos and Frito Pie.
But first, the breakfast tacos. There’s the Trinity, an expected combination of softly scrambled eggs, melty cheddar cheese, long strips of bacon and potato. This is strong, hearty morning-after stuff, served with hot sauce and avocado, if you feel like tacking on the extra dollar. Other options include charro beans, a sort of Tex-Mex perversion of the usual refried pintos we’re so fond of, heated up with chiles and served with a subtle smokiness. The Guadalupe, offered with chorizo, eggs, grilled onions and cheese, touches many of the more common L.A. breakfast burrito flavors, but is hefty enough inside that thick Texas flour tortilla to make its own name.
Beyond the breakfast, HomeState has looked to join an already-loud brisket conversation throughout the city, though their shredded version lacks much of the salt and fat of, say, Horse Thief downtown.
A chicken sandwich, with bits of pulled bird seasoned with achiote and topped with slaw and guacamole, then stuffed between two ample slices of Texas toast, is a gentle reminder of the Tex-Mex genre’s ability to meld flavors without being ostentatious (Austin-tatious?).
And finally, the Frito Pie, the sort of dish that Austin natives love to rant about. A side-sliced bag of Fritos get dumped on by chili con carne, melted with stringy cheddar and finished off with the usual crew of shredded lettuce, sour cream and jalapeños.
It’s equal parts crunch, fat, salt and savory, and really does make you understand why Tex-Mex is so popular in other parts of America. It’s more a bastardization of flavors than of finished concept, making Frito Pie unique to Texas, and a recent addition to the Los Angeles food lexicon. Thankfully, breakfast tacos have been here long enough now for us to be familiar with their name. Now, thanks to places like HomeState, we’ve really started speaking their language.
HomeState: 4624 Hollywood Blvd., Los Feliz; 323-906-1122, myhomestate.com.