by Lorraine Cherry
Guilty Pleasures: “When no one’s looking!”
I like to think that I really watch my diet, steering it towards lots of fish, chicken, seasonal vegetables, olive oil, and whole grains. I certainly always intend to, and frequently I succeed. But sometimes you just need that guilty pleasure, right? The kind of thing that you suddenly crave when you’re sitting around at night watching the tube. For me, a kale salad never answers that need, but here are a few things that do:
1. Jack-in-the-Box Tacos
Say what? You didn’t even know they still made them? Aren’t they really greasy? Yes they do, and yes they are, but that doesn’t matter. This is a guilty pleasure, remember? Jack’s tacos have always tasted and smelled to me exactly like what you might buy on the street in Mexico. Current asking price is 2/$1, so it’s hard to beat the cost. The recipe (just as it has been for almost 60 years): a crispy/chewy fried corn tortilla, a spoonful of mystery meat (I’ve heard this described as a good vegetarian option, but I think there is actually some beef in it), a little shredded lettuce and cheese, an envelope of not-very-hot hot sauce. I am aware that the area is currently over-run with Austin-style gourmet taco shops, but sometimes nothing will do but this guilty pleasure. You’ll find the closest Jack’s up on 18th Street in the midst of the spaghetti bowl intersection.
2. CherryBerry Frozen Yoghurt
I think a lot of people are not even aware that this Durango, Colorado export has moved into Merchant’s Park just south of Krogers (so it’s close!). Lots of flavors (tres leches is especially good), lots of toppings, and you build your own so you get exactly what you want. If you’re still trying to be good (see the first sentence in this article), they have non-fat, low-fat, sugar-free, and dairy-free options that you can bury in fresh fruit and nuts. If you’re doing the total GP experience, go with the full-fat and cover it up with chopped Butterfingers, Oreos, caramel sauce, and candy sprinkles. You pay by the ounce.
3. Flan and Cappuccino at El Rey
Who ever heard of flan and world-class cappuccino at a fast food joint? You have, as soon as you walk into El Rey, the Cuban/Mexican food mecca at Shepherd and Washington. You may have already gone here for their great roast chicken and Cuban-inspired tacos, but try it for a mid-afternoon dessert sometime. My husband loves the flan, and it goes really well with one of their cappuccinos made with a good rich Cuban coffee. Make sure and get the cappuccino made in the ceramic cup; it’s just better than what you get in a paper cup, although I don’t know why.
4. Whataburger with Cheese
Even in the sea of gourmet burger shops that is now Houston, it’s hard to beat Whataburger for your basic cheeseburger experience. Made to order, add on or take off whatever you like, wolf it down on the spot. Nothing fancy, just well-cooked fresh ingredients served up hot off the grill. The closest location is on 18th Street at the 610 feeder road.
Those are my top 4 guilty pleasures. What are yours?