Breakfast Forever at Tel-Wink Grill

Down the Texas Independence Trail (610 South), up Telephone Road, past the Little Toy Club, Smile Lounge, and the Blue Cat, lies the Tel-Wink Grill.

A sign out front used to read "Best Breakfast in Texas," and had they merely added the word "Cheap", it wouldn't have been a boast. Where else can you get two eggs, to your exact specifications, thick bacon at the nexus of chewy and crisp, a mound of Helen Corbitt-worthy hash browns, and two fist-size biscuits for $4.75?

I didn't know what to expect the first time we went, four years ago. The parking lot was packed with a curious mix of pickups, Mercedes, police cars, 18-wheelers, and Escalades. Inside is a cross-section of Houston fueling up for a hard day of work - truck drivers, utility workers, necktie men striking a deal for a new business - as well as young families, veterans and wealthy retirees.

There's a holy trinity of great breakfast joints, which is excellent food, decent coffee and interesting people-watching, and the Tel-Wink has all three. It's so popular, the queue was snaking through the grill, and a waitress chased out the men lingering over coffee and a newspaper with, "This ain't a library!"

On our recent visit, my dining companion took note, "Your food looks exactly the same as the last time we were here." That seems to be the draw -- consistency. It's the same buttermilk pancakes, rib-eye and two eggs, grits, ranchero omelette, biscuits and gravy, or Belgian waffle the cooks have made for decades, perfected as much as a McDonald's breakfast, but twice as good for a similar price.

After realizing that the John Wayne découpage and the "Texan Spoken Here" sign weren't old-timey, but rather just old, I asked the cashier how long the Tel-Wink Grill had been around. "Nobody really knows, oh, like forever." We won't wait forever to go back.

Follow Eating Our Words on Facebook and on Twitter @EatingOurWords

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
John Kiely
Contact: John Kiely