3703 Morgan Ave
Corpus Christi, TX 78405
Chorizo & Egg: $1.65
Carne Guisada: $2.10
Bottomless Coffee: $1.50
This nondescript joint sits a few blocks from Los Regios but is a world away as a restaurant. Established more than 30 years ago this venerable institution is barely identifiable as a restaurant from less than a car length away, but it’s always busy. I’d eaten here once, on my return from my Honeymoon, and I have a positive association with the place with very little real experience to base it on. An objective evaluation was in order.
My kid was with me, up dutifully and out the door at 6:15 to have breakfast that he’d likely be puking up an hour later at football practice. I’d put out a feeler for ‘the Hat’ but didn’t expect him, what with recovering from H1N1, and an ill (and charming) wife. Lo and behold, one of the 20 or 30 dodge 1500s in the park glinted a familiar hunter green, and out stepped the lost tacoteur, resplendent in his wrinkled t-shirt and with a cap covering bed-head.
The place was bright, a bit less than clean with a sticky table. There were recessed shadow boxes in the walls filled with framed and signed photos of celebrity patrons. I think every third picture was of Selena. The service was good, and the tacos came wrapped in tissue paper, in the red plastic mesh baskets you’d expect to hold a hamburger. It was like opening a present.
My chorizo & egg was more than serviceable, and though the salsa was inadequate alone it complemented the taco. The carne guisada was better, but in this town you have to do better than better. Tender – yes, savory – barely. The coffee had a bit of a twang, like my coffee maker at work. That’s why I no longer make coffee at work (plus I am located next to the best coffee shop in Corpus, Aqua Java, and smell roasting beans on my way in. It’d be hard to make good coffee in the face of such temptation, much less my work blend.
Kevin’s Grab Bag
Today’s taco treatise begins with lengua on corn and ends with suicide. The HiHo’s lengua taco was HoHum. The meat, while tender, was grey and bland. I prefer my lengua on a corn tortilla, and was disappointed when it arrived on a store-bought tort. These don’t even show up on the same scale as a hand-made version, hence the null rating. Even a liberal addition of salt, pepper, and green salsa couldn’t save this taco from the doldrums. The green salsa was flavorful, but packed no pica. A finger dipped into the red salsa was enough to know it didn’t belong on my tacos. The salsa was decidedly a LowPoint at the HiHo.
But the morning wasn’t all a waste. My second taco was something called Suicide. Turns out it is a combo of three tacos: bean, bacon and cheese; chorizo and eggs; and eggs and papas. It came on a superb flour tortilla. The tort was cooked perfectly, with just the right amount of bite and riding the edge of crunchiness. Truly a good tort. I’m not the chorizo expert as is my fellow tacoteur, Ian, but I thought it was good. It left a grease stain in my tortilla, a sure sign of chorizo greatness. The refried beans were good, not as bacon-y as I like them, but the full strip of crispy-fried bacon made up for that. The huevos con papas were non descript and lost in the bigger flavors of chorizo and bacon.
The coffee was a NoGo at the HiHo. Weak and devoid of flavor. I’ve had better coffee at Sonic. The company was, as always, the better part of the meal. Ian and I were joined by a truly amazing teenager, Matthew. Not only was he awake for the Friday breakfast ritual, but he had a taco prior to football practice. That’s bravery.
The thing that stands out about the Hi-Ho is the flour tortilla. It was fresh and hot, with a light dust of flour and cooked longer so that there was a slightly crisp surface holding in the supple and chewy middle. One of the best I’ve had. Maybe not San Luis good but why choose?
And so Morgan Avenue in it’s paint-peeling abandon redeems itself. The Hi-Ho was comfortable and the food and service were way worth the 5 bucks a head we spent. Maybe it isn’t the best place to get a breakfast taco in Corpus Christi, but it’s sure worth trying.