Tunnel Explorer: Pastabilities

Categories: Tunnel Explorer

Pastabilities.jpg
Photo by Nicholas L. Hall
This would probably taste better after a few dozen beers.
I used to work with a guy who looked a bit like Franklin the Turtle. He was slightly narcoleptic. You always knew when "Franklin" was going to drift off, because he would bring his right hand up to his left shoulder and start massaging his collarbone. Within minutes, he'd be out. Franklin was a good guy.

He was also a tunnel-dining trailblazer, having charted an impressive mental map from his years of working downtown. Back when we worked together, he used to go on and on about Pastabilities. I never made it down there to check it out back then, so when the name popped up in the comments below a recent post, I decided to give it a shot, finally.

Once I made it down there, I wondered how I'd missed it so many times. Located underneath the Esperson Building, Pastabilities is right around the corner from my chiropractor's office. Had I known, I might have stopped by sooner, consoling myself with a slice of pizza after being attacked by the crazy lady with the belt sander who does my adjustments. Just kidding. Sort of.

The item that brought me down there, the Original Breakfast Burrito, must have weighed two full pounds. Built on a mass-market tortilla that had been unceremoniously run through one of those hinged steam presses, my burrito packed in home fries, scrambled egg, bacon, and cheese. It was full enough to be legitimately difficult to eat.

Way too many home fries lent the burrito a dry, mealy character, though the potatoes were well-seasoned. Though they were clearly browned and crisped at one point, their stay in a griddle-side potato pile, awaiting burritization, had lent them a steamed texture, all of their crunch gone. The bacon was nicely crispy with some chew to it, just how I like it. The egg was scrambled fresh, not poured from a jar, which was a surprising touch. A paltry single egg for that massive mound of starch, though, simply didn't suffice.

The provided salsa brought some heat and a nice, onion pungency, but it seemed to be made primarily from some canned tomato product. As with the egg, the single tub of salsa provided for each burrito was simply not enough. Between the tortilla and the mountain of potatoes, the burrito suffered from a serious lack of moisture.

Several bites in, I found the lone slice of American cheese. It didn't add a whole lot of flavor, but its slick, gooey texture helped lubricate the burrito. Melty and mixed with the salsa on the edges of the burrito, it worked like that mainstay of Texas couch parties, Ro-Tel and Velveeta queso. For a few bites there, the burrito was greater than the sum of its parts. Crisp/chewy bacon mingled with savory and earthy potatoes, and the ad-hoc queso added a creamy, spicy kick. It tasted like a dorm room version of a breakfast taco, but in a good way.

At least judged on the merits of this visit, Pastabilities is not the answer to my tunnel breakfast prayers. I would not seek this burrito out anywhere else in the city. If, however, you find yourself in the tunnels, craving a breakfast that offers a few simple, if fleeting, pleasures, and which will render moot the question of where to eat lunch (I wasn't hungry again until late that night), this might be a good bet. Maybe I need to get back in touch with "Franklin," and see if he has any other recommendations.



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Location Info

Pastabilities

815 Walker St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant


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8 comments
mollusk
mollusk

The ham egg and cheese croissant is pretty decent.

Megan
Megan

My husband used to grab lunch there when he worked in the area and swore up and down that it was good.  Seeing that picture, I'm wondering about my choice in husbands.

Megan
Megan

My husband used to grab lunch there when he worked in the area and swore up and down that it was good.  Seeing that picture, I'm wondering about my choice in husbands.

Nicholas L. Hall
Nicholas L. Hall

And Tunnel Explorer claims its first shattered marriage. Mua ha ha ha!

Megan
Megan

Hahahaha!  Actually, he's now in Iowa for law school and has LOST weight.

Megan
Megan

Hahahaha!  Actually, he's now in Iowa for law school and has LOST weight.

Megan
Megan

And if his dubious taste in restaurants didn't doom the marriage, that comment certainly has.

Bruce R
Bruce R

I know why he lost weight.  There are a lot of super hot little tunas attending law school in Iowa.

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