Qué Desayuno

From bacon-and-egg tacos and burritos to chilaquiles and chorizo hash, Latin breakfast specialties are making their way onto more mainstream menus.

As traditional as breakfast tends to be compared to other dayparts, plenty of customers are looking for something a little more interesting in the morning, and Mexican and South American items fill the bill. They’re versatile, low in cost (readily available eggs, cheese, tortillas, and salsa are mainstays), and distinctive yet still approachable. Most Americans are already familiar with items like tacos, pico de gallo, carnitas, and chiles, after all. So it doesn’t take much to put a South of the Border spin on breakfast.

Tacos and Burritos –These handheld Mexican specialties are easily adapted to breakfast with a variety of fillings, from familiar scrambled eggs and cheese to signature pork belly or spicy chorizo and potatoes. They’re great for grab-and-go, because they keep well in a warmer, but made-to-order versions can showcase intriguing temperature variations with hot eggs and black beans contrasting cold avocado and pico.

Did You Know? Breakfast tacos are on 6.5% of US menus, having enjoyed one-year growth of 19.8% and a four-year surge of 109.3%.

Tortas and Arepas –Tortas are Mexican-style sandwiches built on griddled bolillo rolls and can showcase all kinds of flavorful ingredients. Tortas Frontera, Rick Bayless’s fast-casual restaurant at O’Hare Airport, features delicious breakfast tortas filled with eggs, bacon, black beans, cheeses, avocado, chorizo, and rajas (sautéed poblano chiles). The South American corncakes known as arepas can also be used as a carrier for breakfast ingredients.

Chilaquiles –Here’s a breakfast specialty with lots and lots of mileage. Originally developed as a tasty way to utilize leftover tortillas, this dish of eggs, cheese, salsa, and tortilla chips or strips can be varied with different sauces (tart green tomatillo, for instance, or tomato-based rojos) and additions like shredded chicken or pork, beans, machaca (spiced dried beef), avocado, or just about anything used in other menu applications. Migas is a similar dish made with scrambled eggs, cheese, and tortillas, minus the sauce.

Did You Know? Chilaquiles are on a surprising 10.9% of US menus, including First Watch and Cheesecake Factory. Rancheros and More–Huevos rancheros, or rancher’s eggs, is a popular breakfast of fried eggs served over tortillas with a chunky salsa, but there are many variations. Yucatan-style huevos motuleños consist of eggs on tortillas with black beans and cheese, often with other ingredients such as ham, peas, plantains, and salsa picante. Huevos ahogados are poached eggs “drowned” in salsa. And huevos divorciados (divorced eggs) sport both green and red salsa.

Mexican-Style Baked Eggs –Global cuisine is filled with examples of baked eggs, such as Middle Eastern shakshuka and Italian eggs in purgatory, which are cooked in a spicy tomato sauce. This concept can be translated to Spanish with salsa or beans with tomatoes and green chiles, or make a divot in chorizo hash in a skillet and slip the whole thing into the oven until the eggs are set.

Mote Pillo –This unusual but delicious Ecuadorian specialty of hominy with eggs consists of hominy corn kernels scrambled with sautéed onions and garlic, achiote, eggs, chives, and cilantro. Hominy is a bit unfamiliar to most American consumers, but it’s as comforting as hash browns or grits, and has a distinctly Latin profile.

Get Started

Try these recipes for Biscuits with Jalapeño Sausage Gravy, Breakfast Quesadilla with Adobo Potato Hash, and Breakfast Nachos and Chilaquiles.

Sources: Datassential SNAP! Breakfast Tacos (2019); Datassential SNAP! Chilaquiles (2019)