Finally Visiting Cuchara

An evening of highs and lows.

You can get this $3.99 shake at any Smashburger location until September 30.

Fast Times

Jack in the Box Breakfast
The high/low experiment.

The deep-fried lake fish.
Minh T. Truong
The deep-fried lake fish.
First prepare the avocado, then pour the egg into the avocado's hole, cover the pan and enjoy.
Molly Dunn
First prepare the avocado, then pour the egg into the avocado's hole, cover the pan and enjoy.

Christina Uticone

I'm not sure how I could live less than a mile from a Jack in the Box for almost four years and not know they serve breakfast 24 hours a day. HELLO! Not only do I love breakfast, I love breakfast for dinner or as a late-night snack. When I realized I could have been eating breakfast sandwiches at 2 a.m. any old time I wanted, I was pretty devastated and moved to remedy the situation as soon as possible.

Of course, I can barely stay up past midnight, so I put my neighborhood Jack in the Box to the test at noon. I'm a party animal like that.

Unable to decide between the sensible Blueberry Muffin Oatmeal (204 calories, 2 grams of fat, 4 grams each of protein and fiber) and the insane-sounding Big Waffle Stack sandwich (two fried eggs, crispy bacon, sausage, ham and American cheese between two lightly sweetened maple waffles), I did what anyone would do — I ordered them both.

The Big Waffle Stack sounds terrifying, so the nutrition stats shouldn't surprise you: 655 calories, 46 grams of fat, 1,717 milligrams of sodium — the usual stuff, right? At least if you eat the sandwich early, you've got all day to burn it off. Breakfast math!

You probably think that by pitting a bowl of oatmeal against the Big Waffle Stack, I set the Blueberry Muffin Oatmeal up for failure. You're a little bit right and a little bit wrong. You see, the oatmeal is independently bad; it would have scored poorly in my book regardless of competition. Slimy, mushy oatmeal is not enhanced by the add-your-own crumble or dried blueberries that come on the side. The crumble adds crunch of indeterminate origin — sugar? sweetened bread crumbs? both? — and the dried blueberries are more like chewy gummy candies than dried fruit. McDonald's has oatmeal that is far better than the JITB version.

Speaking of McDonald's, it's hard not to make the McGriddle comparison here. Instead of pancakes, JITB uses waffles in place of a bun or muffin and then ups the ante with lots of egg, bacon, sausage and ham. I must have eaten a hundred McGriddles my senior year of high school. I miss that metabolism.

The Big Waffle Stack has it all: oozing cheese, three types of breakfast meats (why choose?!) and all the artificial, maple-infused flavor one could hope for. I turned down the offer of additional maple syrup for my sandwich, and I'm glad I did because honestly, there is enough in the sandwich all on its own — adding syrup would, I think, upset the salty-sweet balance that makes the sandwich work in the first place. Yeah, I said it — it works.

This isn't my usual thing — for breakfast or any other meal. But something about the way the ham, sausage and bacon wrestle with the sweet waffle "bun" had me taking one bite after another. And even though I'm not entirely crazy about fast-food egg product, there was nothing overtly offensive about it — we can probably attribute that to the melting cheese and the sheer number of other flavors and textures, but the end result is the same. The Big Waffle Stack is an offensive but delicious calorie bomb that you should add to your guilty-pleasure fast-food lineup.

Restaurant News

Openings and Closings
1252 Tapas Bar in Vintage Park Shutters While Camerata at Paulie's Opens.

Molly Dunn

The Fourth of July weekend was filled with exciting openings and a surprising closing. Let's start with the closing of one of the 1252 Tapas Bar locations.

The Vintage Park location of 1252 Tapas Bar closed July 6, but don't worry, the other locations — in Uptown and The Woodlands — are still open. In fact, 1252 has updated its menu, and Urban Swank says several must-try dishes and drinks have been added to the restaurant's lineup, including the Montadito and blueberry lemondrop. The small-plates restaurant announced its closure via Facebook July 9 but didn't reveal the reason behind the closing.

In exciting openings news, Camerata at Paulie's opened July 3, just in time for the Fourth of July weekend. Eater Houston took a look inside the new wine bar on Westheimer from Paul Petronella, owner of Paulie's, noting its "sleek, industrial space that's dominated by the U-shaped concrete bar and a long community table." Order a variety of meat and cheese plates and choose from a list of nearly 100 wine bottles for an enjoyable time at the bar, or just eat at Paulie's next door, then head on over to Camerata afterward.

Katsuya shuttered over the Fourth of July weekend, but another Korean restaurant is on its way, according to Eater Houston. Donald Chang, owner of Uptown Sushi, Bluefin and Nara, plans to replace Katsuya with Nara, a Korean restaurant he started in the '90s. A press release notes that Nara will be the first Korean restaurant inside the 610 Loop. Chang spoke with CultureMap, saying that Nara will take up only 6,800 square feet of the available 8,000 and will feature a fusion menu, as well as traditional Korean food to be reserved for a private banquet room.

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