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SXSW: Austin a no-show at breakfast taco battle with San Antonio

No Austin chefs accepted the challenge to participate in the Breakfast Taco Battle with 3 San Antonio chefs (Photo: Jerrod Kingery/KEYE)

Despite a truce being declared between Austin and San Antonio over which city is the true home of breakfast tacos, a trio of chefs from 70 miles south said no local restaurants took them up on breakfast taco battle held Friday morning to kick off SXSW.

The event was supposed to be a challenge between the finest Mexican restaurants the two cities have to offer, but contestant Diana Barrios Trevino, owner of the Los Barrios family of restaurants in San Antonio, says "no one [from Austin] really got back to us" when the challenge was thrown down.

"But we said 'so what, let's go serve our tacos anyway,'" Barrios Trevino laughs.

With three restaurants cooking up free San Antonio-style breakfast tacos at Old School Bar & Grill in the heart of Sixth Street, though, there are no real losers in this simmering breakfast taco war.

Another chef in the competition, Carino Cortez of the Mi Tierra family of restaurants in San Antonio, stays diplomatic when asked about the difference between Austin and San Antonio breakfast tacos.

"It's like apples and oranges," Cortez says, before adding "we make our tortillas from scratch, our chorizo from scratch."

Barrios Trevino, however, isn't afraid to stand up for her home town's favorite food.

"The only difference is the location, because I make my own tacos when I come to Austin to visit my son," Barrios Trevino laughs. "When I come to Austin, I don't eat Mexican food."

The organizer of the event, Chef Johnny Hernandez of San Antonio's La Gloria, points out that San Antonio's pride was injured by the Eater article that started the whole kerfuffle.

"The chef and competitor in me came out and said 'why don't we do a taco challenge?"' Hernandez recalls. "Let's see who makes the best."

"In San Antonio the breakfast taco means a lot to us," says Kevin Peckham, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Choose San Antonio, which has transformed the Sixth Street bar into Casa San Antonio. "It represents tradition, community, and family. It also represents the pride we have in our amazing culinary culture. We're proud to introduce the breakfast taco to the world at SXSW."

A panel of national judges, including Alex Vallis from Food & Wine, Angela Moore from Food Network and the Cooking Channel, Arthur Bovino from Mouth.com, and Kevin Bender from Food.com, picked the winning tacos in three categories of the breakfast taco cook-off: traditional, modern, and chef's choice.

Traditional went to Barrios Trevino, modern went to Cortez, and chef's choice was taken home by Hernandez.

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