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San Antonio

Cowboy Breakfast Kicks Off Rodeo Season In San Antonio With Free Tacos

Volunteer Rocky Rodriguez sterilizes large cooking pots in preparation for Friday's Cowboy Breakfast.
Brian Kirkpatrick | Texas Public Radio
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Volunteer Rocky Rodriguez sterilizes large cooking pots in preparation for Friday's Cowboy Breakfast.

One day in 1979, a traffic reporter spotted smoke coming from the parking lot of Central Park Mall. But instead of finding fire, the reporter found something else: free tacos.

It was the first Cowboy Breakfast, and in that first year, the impromptu event drew 400 people.

On Friday Jan. 24, Cowboy Breakfast celebrates its 42nd year. Thousands of people are expected to attend, helping to unofficially kick off the stock show and rodeo season in San Antonio, which starts Feb. 6.

The North Side event was recognized in 2001 as the World’s Largest Cooked Breakfast by the Guinness Book of Records, according to the event’s organizers. This year’s menu includes 12,000 chorizo and egg tacos, 8,000 bacon and egg tacos and 8,000 biscuits and sausages — all with a side of 20,000 servings of picante sauce.

Breakfast spokesman Art Dietel said the free event runs from 4:30–8:30 a.m., and the size of the crowd can be hard to predict.

“I understand the weather is going to be real good, so it’ll be 30,000 plus.”

For the seventh year, the event will be held in the parking lot of Cowboys Dancehall at I-35 and 410. Along with the free food, there will be a cow chip toss and a Ford F-150 hanging from a crane, but the entertainment doesn't stop there.

“Besides the free food, it’s free parking,” Dietel said. “We’ll have a dance band out here.  They can dance. There’s just a whole lot to do and have a good time doing it.”

Shuttles will also run to the breakfast from the parking lot of the nearby Santikos Realto Theater.

Proceeds from sponsors of the giant gathering benefit of students at St. Philips College’s Tourism, Hospitality and  Culinary Arts Department, and in July, the Cowboy Breakfast Foundation presented a check for $15,000 of scholarships.

Brian Kirkpatrick can be reached at Brian@TPR.org and on Twitter at @TPRBrian.