Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Refried Beans: Not Just For Breakfast Anymore

Blanco Café
419 N. St. Mary’s
San Antonio, TX
Visited October 22, 2010

Beer selection: None.

Food: Traditional Mexican breakfast served all day.

I know the issue of illegal immigration is all the rage, but I just can’t relate.

Of all the places I’ve lived, the closest contact I’ve ever had with Mexican culture is the local Taco Bell drive-through.

Now, in some parts of the South, there has indeed been an invasion of obnoxious funny-talking foreigners who suck up our resources, fill the schools with their snotty-nosed kids and elect big government politicians who vote to strip the natives of their liberties.

They are called Yankees.

But illegal Mexicans? I’ve never seen one.

That might explain why my roof has had 13 leaks.

I think that’s why I always look forward to coming to San Antonio. It’s like going to a foreign country for me. Without the hassles of customs, passports and those annoying people who refuse to speak English.

San Antonio is the best of both worlds – great Mexican culture and cuisine but located right here in the good old U. S. of A. (Shout out to Sam Houston.)

For me, chorizo and eggs and breakfast tacos are an exotic culinary adventure, something to really get excited about.

Trust me, they don’t serve that stuff on the all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet at the Shoney’s two blocks from my house.

French toast sticks and grits, sure. But carne guisada? Uh…no.

You’ve got to come to ol’ San Antone’ for that.

That’s why despite my strong Suit757 aversion to mornings and the fact that I have had to wake up before 6am every day this week, I actually set my travel alarm for an hour early this morning just to indulge in a good Mexican breakfast – and avoid the shrink-wrapped donuts on the hotel “continental breakfast” table.

It was still dark out when I wandered into Blanco Café in downtown San Antonio.

Blanco is a family-owned place that’s been around for 36 years serving homemade tortillas and “breakfast all day.”

I was immediately faced with a dilemma. Chorizo and eggs or breakfast tacos?

That’s easy. Both.

You can justify that sort of decision when you realize it’s been 19 hours since your last meal and will be at least 16 hours before you get another (that luxurious First Class dinner of airline pretzels doesn’t count).

My next dilemma was, which breakfast taco? The menu listed 38 kinds. Some with stuff I had never heard of – and couldn’t pronounce.

I chose wisely. My country sausage taco made me forget my agony over getting up before the sun for the fourth day in a row.

The zesty sausage discs were covered in some sort of tasty orange sauce, all tucked into a freshly made flour tortilla.

Just one or two of those tacos would have made for a hearty breakfast.

But in this case, it was just an appetizer for the heaping plate of eggs and chorizo, refried beans, barbacoa and home-fried Mexican potatoes called “papas”. Oh, and as if that wasn’t enough, my waitress brought me out a little plastic container of still-warm flour tortillas and a jar of home-made green salsa.

Did I eat it all?

Are you kidding? Every bite.

The only thing better than scrambled eggs for breakfast is eggs scrambled with spicy Mexican sausage. My eggs & chorizo were delicious.

The barbacoa, which is loosely translated, Mexican barbequed beef, was actually a little disappointing. I expected a bit more flavor. But it wasn’t a problem the little jar of hot salsa verde couldn’t solve.

Was it the best Mexican breakfast ever?

I don’t know. It’s not like I eat refried beans and shredded beef for breakfast every day.
But that was the joy – if I can use that word at 6:45am – of venturing through the early morning darkness of downtown San Antonio to Blanco Café.

Discovering something different. Something exotic. Something unique to this corner of America.

That’s something worth getting up for every day.

Rating: Seriously Thought About Buying Shirt.
Blanco Cafe on Urbanspoon

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