Best Tex-Mex in Houston area
I am going to Houston next week to visit my sister and will be staying in Spring (she lives in The Woodlands). She recently moved and is unfamiliar with restaurants in the area. I am not opposed to driving into Houston for this treat as I live in Seattle and there is no Tex-Mex to speak of up north. I don't care if its a hole in the wall place...just want to have a satisfying meal. Any suggestions would be most appreciated.
Try and of Pappas Bros restaurants: Pappasitos. Pappadeaux for Cajun. Try to get in on the craw fish heads.
Not my part of town but I’ll weigh in. Here’s a recent thread you may find helpful:
Here are listings of Mexican restuarants for Spring, The Woodlands, and Conroe:
Note both Tex-Mex and Mex-Mex are included in the category. Avoid Casa Ole and Tortuga Cantina, both mediocre local chains. Pappasito’s is part of a huge Pappas empire; it’s above average for a chain but I haven’t been in years.
Taco Milagro is part of the Schiller-Del Grande group; Robert Del Grande is a local celebrity chef. I haven’t been in 5 years or so, back when there was only one location. As I recall it was kind of pricey.
There’s a Gringo’s near me but I haven’t been; it just screams corporate restaurant chain to me. I’ve always heard such mixed reviews on Lupe Tortilla I have avoided it.
Among the taqueria groups, Cancun and Tepatitlan have been mediocre in my experience at the locations near me. Arandas has lots of fans but the one near me has not impressed; I think it varies by location. La Tapatia is probably the best of the local taqueria groups. I’ve been to 3 of the locations and never been disappointed.
There are probably some gems among the taquerias and Tex-Mex restaurants listed. As a chowhound, I’d be most interested in exploring some of the taquerias.
Pappasitos for my family and me is hands down the best in terms of food quality and quantity. Service is usually good, but be prepared to wait if you go on Friday or Saturday. If you don't mind driving to downtown Houston, the original Ninfa's on Navigation St. is a unique experience. This is the place that started the fajita craze, but the Pappas family figured out how to turn Tex-Mex into big business. I guess Mama Ninfa could not keep up with the Pappas brothers, but the original Ninfa's location is still special. Be careful with the Ninfaritas! Another good name downtown is Irma's and Irma's Southwest Grill. Very good, personal service and excellent food, if a little pricier than Pappasito's and Ninfa's.
Ninfa's on Navigation is my favorite, followed by Molina's (any location) for straight tex-mex. For what I call "greasy mexican slop", which is my personal favorite variety of tex-mex, I love La Fiesta (Bunker Hill & I-10, or a little further west down I-10, or the one on Westheimer).
This is the problem with this type of question. Everyone has a favorite and are passionate about favorite dishes at certain places (go to x restaurant for this dish, but y restaurant for another dish). It would be like asking a person from Seattle where is the best coffee shop (I am sure you would get varying answers depending on straight Joe, cappucino, etc) or a New Yorker where to get the best slice.
Fingeth, any particular dish that you want to try in particular? If so, then I am sure posters can better help you choose from the seemingly endless viable options.
In my circle growing up, there were 2 camps -- Ninfa's or Pappasito's. I am a Ninfa's loyalist though the whole game has changed since it went corporate (though the green sauce, at least the last time I tried it a few years back, is the sh-t). I couldn't stand Pappasitos; but when you break it down, it is likely far better than any Tex-Mex you are going to find outside of Texas. Whatever you do, don't go to some place like Border Grill. You really can't go too wrong with most any of the suggestions listed above. In my experience, no one place is tex-mex nirvana, but most all serve some dish that keeps their loyalists coming back regularly.
If you don't mind driving, try Pico's, 5941 Bellaire Blvd, Houston, 77081 TX. Don't let their Mex-Mex menu specials fool you. Pico's also has some excellent Tex-Mex. Their enchiladas are out of this world! Their Nachos Jorge is possibbly the best nacho plate I've ever had in my life ( I'm a native Houstonian and I've eaten nachos all over Texas, New Mexico, NYC, Mexico, South America, and the UK... Pico's are still my favorite)
Cyclone Anaya's Mexican Kitchen, 1710 Durham Dr, Houston, Texas 77007 713.862.3209 is also good. Their fajita dishes are delicious and so are the enchiladas… I had the ones with white sauce.
If you really want an experience, try El Ultimo Taco Truck, 7403 Long Point Rd Houston, TX 77055. I have no idea if it’s still there, but it should not be missed. Amazing tacos of course! It’s probably not an option in your case. You may drive all that way only to discover the truck has moved.
Finally, if you do not want to drive all over, try one of the many Pappasitos locations. Yes, they are a chain, but I have never had a bad meal there. IMO, their beef fajitas blow Lupe Tortillas away - no competition at all.
I have tried Taco Milagro's original location twice. The food was bland, dry and over-priced. I will not go back.
Good Luck & I hope you enjoy your visit.
I'm a northerner who loves Tex-Mex, and I've tried quite a few places. Pappassitos, Lupe Tortilla, and Cyclone Anaya's are all good, but nothing special (except for the tortillas at Lupe - they're awesome). My absolute favorite place to go for Tex-Mex is La Tapatia where I always order the Enchiladas with Mole Poblano. For quick, cheap, and tasty, I also love Tacos-a-Go-Go on Main Street. For what I feel is healthier Tex-Mex, I recommend Escalante's on Woodway.
I know I'm too late for your vacation to see your sister, but you might tell your sister to try Guadalajara, if she hasn't already. It's right there in The Woodlands, and they have some of the best fajitas! Their salsa's good too, and they have excellent service.
For Tex-Mex, I usually stick with the fajitas. And sometimes the quality changes with time, no matter what your favorite establishment may be.
For fajitas, I actually think Los Cucos, a regional chain, offers the best. I've tried Lupe's (too lime-y for my taste), Pappasitos (good, but pricier), Chuy's (eh, maybe the other stuff were better, or you just have to go to the original one in Austin), and oh my god - ever so many more - Escalante's, Ninfa's, and the bunch of taquerias!
But if you want something else outside of fajitas, do try the other establishments. I'm not so sure what would be the best well-rounded Tex-Mex restaurant... maybe Pappasitos.
I would recommend La Mexicana on Fairview @ Montrose as a place. When I visit Houston (from Dallas) I always clammer to go here. I would highly recommend their margaritas (you can actually taste the alcohol instead of margarita mix and would also recommend the jumbo burrito (enough for two people or a hungry hombre).