Monday, July 7, 2014

Just Gotta Wonder

Original Donut Shop
3307 Fredericksburg
(at Babcock)

In the seamy section of Fredericksburg Road between Hildebrand and Loop 410, there are relatively few decent taco houses; surprising in this town. I can only think of two, one at each end of that strip of road (though there is one other, in between, that I haven't yet tried). And unlike almost every place in the country north of Waco and Ponchatoula, we don't find donut shops in every strip-center around here. Maybe, then, it's the novelty of a donut shop, and the relative novelty of tacos in that area, that keep this neighbourhood taco house going. Whatever it is, it's worked for decades. It sure ain't the food.

I've tried the food here half a dozen times over the past twenty years. Today probably marks not my last visit, but the experience has been sufficiently consistent over all those visits to write now with some confidence.

Today, for the first time, I tried the donuts. (To be honest, I never before realized that they actually sold donuts; I've always come in from the Babcock Road side, and never before noticed the small donut-shop area at the other end; or if I did, I'd forgotten about it.) The donuts were good, not spectacular: better than HEB, but more expensive; not as good as Shipley's, but cheaper. The variety on offer is substantial, with something to surely satisfy whatever craving your sweet tooth has. Enough said about that.

The taquería side of the business is poorly laid out. The food is set out in steamer tables, and the line to order at the register forms in front of those tables. When your food is ready, they call your number and you collect your tray from the counter over the steamer table. The coffee dispenser is there too, though the sugar and creamer supplies are kept to the left of the register, and napkins and eating utensils are at the other end of the counter. This arrangement guarantees that everybody will be in everybody else's way at least twice, possibly three times. More if you decide to get a refill on coffee.

What's that mean?
Last city inspection: January 2014
14 demerits
The coffee was, to us, not worth a refill. It took double doses of creamer, and a packet of salt, to make that bitter, acidic brew palatable. How the coffee attained that level of unpleasantness without also being Starbucks-strong is beyond me.

I ordered a potato and egg taco and a bacon and egg taco, both on corn tortillas. My friend Rick (now on occasion known to me as Sidekick Max, after a movie character) went for a couple of beef fajita tacos on wheat tortillas. In both cases the tortillas were well-made, and held together fairly well.  Rick was happy enough with his meal, and had nothing to complain of in it. He rates them at two and a half chili peppers -- ordinary.

My bacon and egg taco was a disappointment. It was overly salty, there wasn't much bacon in it, and the eggs were way too dry to be pleasing. That happens when they sit in a steamer table for who knows how long. The same eggs were used in the potato-and-egg taco, but in that taco the big chunks of potato (which had only improved from the long steaming) imparted enough moisture to make the overall texture much more pleasant, and the addition of a little fair-quality red salsa gave the taco a little flavour.

Otherwise, the place is good enough: the dining room is fairly clean despite a constant turnouver, though the hard-tile floor made it impossible to find a table that didn't wobble with every touch. If you keep your foot on the table-leg, it'll hold still.
Original Donut Shop on Urbanspoon

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