Sometimes nothing beats breakfast for dinner, or brinner, if you will. Sometimes, even just a late-day brunch kind of thing works. To put it another way, do any among us like when breakfast service stops? Nope, and the restaurants that know this and know this well are wise to leave the option open for people who love the early morning meals without wanting to alter their up-all-night schedules. We all want eggs after 11 am, dammit—make it so.
1820 Cerrillos Road, (505) 986-0022
After a panicked phone call to inquire whether The Pantry still served breakfast at night, we were relieved.
“You bet we do,” the voice said when I asked about brinner. “All day.”
Just last spring I had a wonderful meal at The Pantry’s downtown location, aka Pantry Rio (Downtown Pantry-ing, March 30, 2022), so my hopes were high for night eggs. Further, I had to rack my brain to think if I’d ever sampled a Pantry breakfast burrito before. Eventually I remembered that while I’ve had tons of things there over the years, that noble eggy burrito was never among them. Shame on me. So my bud Ryan and I rushed over to The Pantry, were seated immediately (5:30 pm, it seems, heralds a lull at the restaurant, which is otherwise famous for its long lines) and went to town on good local cooking.
I was first thrilled to learn The Pantry has Morningstar veggie sausage for its breakfast burritos, with an extra $2 charge (the same price as adding carne adovada, which I’m sure is also excellent). That brought me up to a grand total of $13.95 ($11.95 without additions), and that’s not even counting my most dubious substitution:
“Can I have curly fries instead of Pantry potatoes or beans?” I asked
“Oh, absolutely,” our server said, with the kind of twinkle in her eye that noted how smart that plan was. Clearly, she’ll remember me. And I’ll remember how I wasn’t charged extra for the fries.
So I felt like a genius, as curly fries definitely added some crispy-crunchy texture to the soft eggs and melty cheese. Morningstar sausage commonly comes in links at retail, but The Pantry sort of smooshes said links into small pieces and nestles them throughout the burrito—and not all in one sector, a pitf into which so many other excellent burritos have fallen. The Pantry’s scrambled eggs were expertly made, too, and fluffy without losing firmness. Scrambled eggs are a minefield of preference and a case of a simple dish sometimes vexing otherwise excellent cooks and chefs. Both the red and green chile were revelatory, too, from the green’s spicy kick to the red’s deeper complexities.
Once again, I know many prefer a handheld burrito, but at The Pantry, smothered is the name of the game—especially if you throw your added curly fries into the mix.
111 Washington St., (505) 982-4453
Two days later and I found myself hankering for yet another breakfast burrito, but it was Saturday, pushing well into late afternoon and beyond the superfluous 11 am breakfast cutoff upon which so many restaurants insist.
Luckily, I remembered my training from the 3,000 years our SFR offices were on Marcy Street; I summoned my courage, put shoes on and drove to the Burrito Company, which, if I’m being honest, has almost always been my second- or third-choice meal. Oh, no shade on former owner/chef Arquimedes Castro, who tragically died in 2014—as I’ve said before, he’d put fries inside a burrito if you asked nicely, and that’s very cool, plus he built something upon which people rely, be they downtown workers, tourists or one guy looking for an afternoon breakfast experience. Still, I’ve got my personal favorites, and Burrito Company has never been among them. It likely still won’t be, sadly.
First off, a quick shoutout to the cashier who told me and a companion that they were out of green chile. That’s not an easy thing to announce to a local in search of green, I know, and I appreciated his sympathetic vibe almost as much as I did his finding a little serving of green in the back and offering it up on on the side of my all-red breakfast burrito ($7.50). You’re a star, bud, and I’ll seriously never forget the gesture!
You’ve also gotta hand it to Arquimedes’ widow, Eleanor, who took over after her husband’s death, for maintaining a level of consistency. Burrito Company items are always going to be made the same, taste the same, look the same, and be served up fast. While I would normally consider all of that a plus—and I definitely love a few menu items—this particular breakfast burrito came cold at each end, a product of red chile that was not warmed up enough before smothering time. The green chile our server rustled up added some extra heat, but it didn’t save the eggs, which I can only describe as rubbery and too few. Everything tasted just fine, it’s just that texture and heat are kind of big deal elements, and I envisioned big tubs of egg made hours earlier and heated up only when ordered. Even so, I’d give them another crack. I know people like to dunk on the Burrito Company, but it’s been part of our community for more than 40 years. That means something to me, so I’ll suck it up and eat as many breakfast burritos as I must to support. Someone has to do it.