Restaurant Reviews

Diner's Notebook

It's all too easy to get into a rut where breakfast is concerned; mornings tend to bring out the creature of habit in all of us. In the interests of a.m. diversity, then, some suggested field trips to broaden your breakfast horizons.

* At the Texas Lee Bakery, 9126 Bellaire Boulevard, resides one of the softest and most decorative breakfast pastries around. Namely, a burnished bun whose assorted whorls cradle rounds of spicy sausage and savory caches of wilted scallion. Its top is glossily browned; its innards are sun-yellow and faintly sweet. The effect is addictive. Grab a couple of these must-haves (one for now; one for later) while perusing the stacked trays of exotica, including the buns filled with mayonnaisey potato salad. I swear that they're better than they sound. 272-6517.

* In the same Bellaire shopping center is the sprawly Welcome Food Center, where two bucks buys a massive sack freighted with four freshly steamed buns filled with shredded cabbage, transparent bean thread noodles, a bit of fried bean curd and just enough glassy black fungus to impart a haunting, earthy note. These vegetarian buns, bearing Welcome's own house label, are a welcome variation on the pork- or chicken-filled standards. That heavy, moist dough has a stick-to-your-ribs quality that has seen millions of people through harsh winters in northern China, but the delicacy of the cabbage and bean threads seems somehow right for the tropics. At home, seal them in a plastic sack and heat briefly in the microwave. (Ignore this instruction at your peril.) A single bun makes a breakfast by itself, or with a do-it-yourself sauce of rice vinegar tinted with a little soy and Vietnamese red chile paste (sesame oil optional). Oh yeah -- they freeze.

* Next time you're heading for Galveston, swing off the Gulf Freeway at the League City exit and drive a couple miles toward the center of town to Jimmy's Taco Shack. There, the Gilbert Gonzalez family dispenses the Breakfast Burrito That Ate Galveston County. You have never seen a burrito this big: when the Gonzalezes tout their "Large Hand-Rolled Flour Tortillas" on the exterior of their building, they aren't kidding. We're talking manhole covers here: superbly substantial and layery, with all the right blistery browned places from the griddle.

Fold one of these giants around the Taco Shack's world-class refried beans, scrambled eggs, potatoes, bacon, chorizo and cheese (have I left anything out?), and you're left cradling a breakfast that's the approximate weight of a newborn infant. It costs all of $2.50, and it positively radiates family-style charm, which makes it a deal of deals. Indeed, the city fathers may squeal, but it is my contention that Jimmy's Special Breakfast Burrito should be considered League City's claim to fame. 213 East Main, 332-6706. Closed Mondays.

-- Alison Cook

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Alison Cook