500 Tacos: Whataburger

A taco a day for 2015 — and then some
6106 Cameron Road (map), 512-452-0634, 17 more Austin locations at www.whataburger.com
Hours: Dining room open 6am-11pm daily. Drive-through open 24 hours a day.
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 06.03.15
Nothing like a shortage to recharge demand, and this week Whataburger responded to the egg crisis brought on by the national avian flu outbreak that’s killed millions of egg-laying hens by cutting back its breakfast hours. Now the breakfast “taquitos” storied in those “Just Like You Like It” commercials are served just 5-9 a.m. weekdays and 5-11 a.m. weekends. Don’t panic. That’s more time than you need to figure out they’re not very good.
The taco: Sausage, egg and cheese
Whataburger’s breakfast taquitos — full-size tacos, actually — are built on shaky ground. Trampoline tortillas, flaky and hard scrambled eggs, processed American cheese. The best of three choices — potato, bacon or sausage — is the third one, with inoffensive breakfast sausage chopped into a small dice for even distribution and just enough grease to help the taco stay together. As much as I like a Whataburger bacon cheeseburger in the middle of the night, I can’t find the same sentimental spot for these thoroughly whitewashed breakfast tacos. ($2.49; $4.19 with coffee and hashbrown sticks)
 The other two taquitos: Is Whataburger bacon always this bad, or do its shortcomings just stand out more in the morning light? It’s hard as jerky, with overpronounced smoke flavor and an unnatural glycerine sheen. The two fried hashbrown sticks in the potato taquito would barely make the grade at an Alaskan elementary school cafeteria. ($2.49 each)
 Tortillas: These gummy, commercial flour tortillas are the equivalent of mass-market white hamburger buns, minus the benefits of buttering and toasting.
 Salsa: Say what you want about Whataburger’s overprocessed jar-style picante sauce. Because what you want at Whataburger is ketchup. Fancy ketchup. Spicy if they’ve got it, in a peel-top tub in sleek black and white like an old Mopar muscle car.
 Orange is the new orange: Don’t you miss the ground-to-cloud sweep of the old Whataburger sky-wedge buildings? The one on Cameron Road is Austin’s coolest standing Whataburger.
The 500 Tacos Project
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)