I've been a fan of Otto's since my days at St. Thomas High School, when the original Memorial Drive location was a popular spot for off-campus lunch. That had as much to do with the fact that a St. Thomas I.D. scored you a free drink as it did with the food, but it was a go-to nonetheless. Of course, anyone at all familiar with the now-shuttered barbecue joint knows that you don't go to Otto's for the barbecue, anyway. You go for the burgers.
Although my long-since expired student I.D. doesn't work its magic on the tunnel locations (my usual being the one underneath 500 Dallas), Otto's remains a somewhat consistent part of my lunch rotation. Recently, I've begun frequenting the restaurant for breakfast, as well. They make a mean biscuit. Huge, scratch-baked daily, and smothered in a generous blanket of passable cream gravy, it's the kind of breakfast that makes you skip lunch and abandon any hope of a productive day. It's hard to get work done while deep in a gravy semi-coma, after all.
Last time I ventured down there to grab a plate, I noticed a new item on the menu. The promise of a breakfast torta - filled with refried beans, chorizo, avocado, jalapenos and egg - forced me to abandon my beloved biscuits. Unfortunately, it was a disappointment. All the stuff inside was fine. Not amazing, just fine. The refried beans were canned and bland; the chorizo was so mildly spiced as to almost miss the point, but tasted okay; the egg was, well, egg; the avocados were actually rich, creamy and delicious. The bread is what killed it. Rather than a crunchy-crusted, soft-crumbed bolillo or griddled telera bread, this sad torta was constructed on an industrial-style hoagie roll.
Overly bready, with a dense and unpleasant texture, the hoagie roll did nothing but mask the other flavors. If it had been toasted a bit, or if some of the interior had been scooped out, it might not have fared so poorly. As it was, the whole sandwich was muted, none of the other flavors able to rise above the mass of starch.
Maybe the sandwich would have tasted better dipped into a side of cream gravy. Either way, I found myself wishing I had just gone with my usual. Undaunted by the disappointing breakfast, I continue my search for subterranean deliciousness. Who knows what delights await me around the next tunnel bend.
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