I still have strong memories of the breakfast tacos my Tex-Mex stepdad used to make for us on weekend mornings when I was a kid. Armed with fresh tortillas and chorizo from Matamoros Meat Market, he'd fry up diced potatoes, then fold them in with scrambled eggs and that fatty, orange pork sausage as they cooked, all three ingredients melding together in almost quiche-like fashion. On top of the potato-egg-pork blend went some shredded cheese and green salsa, all of it fastened up in a tortilla and devoured as quickly as he could make them. Along with migas (these topped with ketchup, in true Tex-Mex fashion), it was one of the only meals my mother allowed my stepfather to cook—the kitchen is firmly her domain otherwise—but it was always one of my favorites.
Villa Arcos has been serving tacos almost identical to my stepfather's, though they've been around a few decades fewer than he has. For 37 years, this East End taco stand has been a staple along Navigation Blvd., where people queue up for breakfast tacos no matter how hot the day or how long the line. If you head to Villa Arcos on a weekend, expect at least an hour wait for your tacos; I advise stopping at Tout Suite on the way there for a large cup of coffee and a croissant, then grabbing a chair on the patio overlooking the Navigation esplanade while you wait.
In fact, this time of year is ideal for trying out Villa Arcos if you've somehow managed to miss this Houston institution before. Though the interior doesn't have A/C, a cool cross breeze blows in through the always-open, screened-in windows if you choose to sit inside. And a beautiful fall morning makes for pleasant queueing up conditions if you choose to head to Villa Arcos on the weekend. I, personally, prefer to go on the weekdays, when the line is substantially shorter.
And if this weather isn't convincing enough, consider this: Villa Arcos makes the best bacon breakfast tacos and the best chicharrón breakfast tacos in Houston (pro tip: these chicharrónes aren't stewed in a spicy green or red sauce, as you'll often find, only fried and lightly salted, making them perfect for those who can't normally handle the heat).
The trick to both is frying the pork products just long enough to get a good, crunchy sear on part, leaving the rest amazingly tender, fatty, and absolutely perfect. This is not the sad, thin bacon crumbled up into bits you may be familiar with in other, lesser breakfast tacos; this bacon is a whole belly, diced into large chunks and folded into scrambled eggs in equal proportion.
As much as I love my stepdad, he never made bacon breakfast tacos this good. But his chorizo breakfast tacos can absolutely stand up against Villa Arcos—both homestyle, both made with high-quality ingredients, and both big enough on their own to make an ample breakfast. Though my stepdad's win the battle by being free (thanks, Ralph!), it was a close race: at only $3.50 for a super chorizo taco with potatoes, egg, cheese, and beans, Villa Arcos also offers one of the best breakfast deals in town.