Taoseños are serious about their breakfast burritos.
Whether it’s handheld or smothered with chile and cheese, a great breakfast burrito is more than the sum of its parts.
By David Lerner
Like all simple, regional dishes, the classic New Mexican breakfast burrito is only as good as the treatment of each ingredient. Scrambled eggs must be creamy with pillowy curds – pallid, overcooked eggs are a strict deal breaker. Diced or shredded potatoes should be properly browned and seasoned. A smattering of green chile is essential, and sautéed onion is a nice touch.
Shredded cheese, preferably the yellow, annatto-colored variety, should be evenly distributed so that a harmony of egg, potato, chile, and cheese is achieved with each bite. Finally, the white flour tortilla should be griddled to crisp golden perfection. A soggy or gummy tortilla is the telltale sign of an unloved burrito; these are to be avoided at all costs.
According to the above criteria, top marks in the handheld breakfast burrito category go to Mante’s Chow Cart. Mantes has been in business since 1973, and for good reason. Their breakfast burrito is the gold standard – a consistently tasty marriage of quality preparation, simplicity, and bold flavors. Nearby Mary Jane’s is an unpretentious food truck serving hearty breakfast burritos until 11a.m., Monday – Friday. If you eat meat, their chorizo add-on gets raves from locals. Don’t forget the extra chile, it’s 75 cents well spent. For late risers who believe breakfast all day is a human right, friendly Rosa’s Tacos, Burritos y Más in Ranchos de Taos deserves special praise for serving breakfast burritos until 3 p.m. One of their massive rolls at three will keep you rolling well past midnight.
Lastly, Leonel’s Tamales is a strong but underrated contender. Leonel’s light, fluffy tortillas are made in-house, elevating their burrito game from very good to excellent. Other serviceable on-the-go options include Cid’s, Blake’s Lotaburger, Toribio’s, and Antonio’s The Taste of Mexico. Clearly, Taos County is not experiencing an affordable breakfast burrito crisis just yet!
North of town, Greg and Jason at Midtown Market in Arroyo Hondo offer a variety of delicious breakfast burritos to go, all made fresh daily. The welcome addition of whole pinto beans skews this heavy wrap towards a California-style mission burrito, but their piquant green chile packs enough punch to remind you that you’re just a few short miles from the Rio Grande. Up the gorgeous Hondo-Seco road, find Abe’s Cantina in Arroyo Seco, a longtime local favorite.
When I visited recently, they were closed due to a family emergency, but if memory serves, their breakfast burrito (offered with sausage) was a deliciously greasy umami bomb, perfect for scarfing in the car before a Ski Valley hike. Just be sure to call ahead. If you strike out at Abe’s, fear not. Adjacent Taos Cow, Sol Food Café, and Wake and Take all have you covered. Although they’re best known for their lovely lavender ice cream, the folks at Taos Cow know their way around breakfast. Likewise, Wake and Take’s innovative anytime vegan burrito—stuffed with potatoes, green chile, tempeh bacon, Anasazi beans, miso vinaigrette, and pickled onion – is a healthy but no less savory option to start the day.
If you’re dining in, consider the smothered burrito. The interplay of rich, vegetal chile and melted cheese makes a proper smothered burrito a peak breakfast experience, even if it requires the use of pesky utensils. Taos Diner II has the best smothered burrito and is a favorite for their mildly spiced and vegetarian green and red chiles. You can chose one or the other or both. Vegans take note: Taos Diner II offers a tofu scramble option. Alternately, for those who need their early bacon fix, try their beloved Charles Burrito. Sadly, gluten-free breakfast burritos are currently difficult to source, but most restaurants will do their best to accommodate all dietary preferences. Michael’s Kitchen Restaurant and Bakery serves massive portions of Nuevo Mexicano breakfast fare all day, including their signature Martin’s breakfast burrito. I dare you to finish it. Bearclaw Bakery is an unassuming spot offering delicious baked goods and pastries, but don’t overlook their smothered burrito. Chef Anthony Archuleta, a Taos Pueblo native, has been serving them since 2014. Ricky’s Restaurant also receives high praise for their handheld and smothered offerings. And though best known as a bustling lunch spot, La Cueva Café has a breakfast burrito beckoning on their menu.
In my quest for the best breakfast burrito in Taos, I left no stone unturned. I even perfected my own at-home variety. Still, undiscovered gems no doubt await the intrepid explorer willing to scour Dixon, Red River, Questa, Cerro, Costilla, and southern Colorado in search of that elusive je ne sais quoi of the perfect breakfast burrito. Happy hunting!