The taco, the Mexican Coke, the outdoor seating.

There are two things you should know about me and tacos: First, for the beginning 15 years of my life, my idea of a taco was limited to the crunchy beef Taco Supreme at Taco Bell. It happened to be my favorite single meal for many of those 15 years, a fact that should astound people who wonder just how I am a professional food critic.

Second, I wasn't even aware of breakfast tacos until I met my wife, a native Austinite, who introduced me to the dish over Christmas 2012. Thus, I have only known about breakfast tacos for a little more than six years. Again, people are astounded.

With that knowledge, I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience of Houston foodies' doctor's office waiting room, Villa Arcos. You know what I'm talking about: You walk into the little red building on Navigation and survey the faces of hungry Houstonians just hoping to be called next. Maybe some have prepared for the occasion, bringing reading material or at least a friend. Others aren't so lucky, designating themselves to a spot against the wall for 20 minutes or so. If it's sunny outside, it's a different story. Luckily, that's been my story so far.

For breakfast recently, I happened to arrive on one of those unseasonably warm days (which means 75 degrees in December and January). I ordered my several breakfast tacos (bacon, egg, cheese; potato, egg, cheese; chorizo, egg, cheese; chicharrones, egg), set my internal clock, and headed back to the sun. Ten minutes later (before my internal clock was ready), my name was called, I picked up my booty, and turned back to the picnic table to unwrap the magic. 

And what magic it is. Chorizo might be my favorite breakfast taco meat—in the dead of morning, when sand is still lodged in my eyes and coffee just won't cut it, I need a swift kick, and chorizo does just that. Villa Arcos' chorizo is brilliantly juicy and a wallop of heat. Beyond that, the bacon is itty bitty and crispy and the potatoes are meaty in their own right. And then there's the chicharrones. These have to be double-fried because they're crispy for just a moment, then completely burst apart like Gushers. Fat? Who could tell? They were incredible.

On another sunny day I visited for lunch, opting for a chicken with avocado taco in a soft shell and a carne picada taco in a hard shell (that's my childhood love of hard-shell Taco Supremes creeping in). Both were tasty to the last bite, and I especially enjoyed the succulent chicken, which nearly spilled out of the tortilla. I washed everything down with a tall Mexican Coke and felt as happy as I've been in some time.

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Villa Arcos

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