SW Houston Chow - Taqueria 100% Michoacan
I’ve been investigating eateries on the SW side for a month or so, in line with my NY’s resolution to save on gas by not driving all over town to get lunch (I’ve seen predictions we’re going to be paying $4 a gallon for gas by the end of the year). I’ve got at least 20 places on my list and have checked out 9 so far and found 2 keepers. This is a report on the best I’ve found so far. This is a very new place in a new strip center, just about 100 yards off Beltway 8 on W. Bellfort, between 8 and 59. It’s not your typical taqueria; it’s table service and the food is a little more upscale and so are the prices.
My first visit I tried the enchiladas Michoacanas con pollo, which also comes with quail. The enchiladas were folded, with the ‘fillings’ on top consisting of shredded cabbage, queso, crema, thin wedges of avocado, grilled jalapeno strips and tomato. They were very good. This was accompanied by a roasted chicken drumstick that was very tender and juicy, refritos that were not your typical pintos, and papas fritas - basically home fries in this case. I should have asked what the refritos were but I’d guess frijoles rojos or rojos pequenos - a nice change from the usual suspects - although it’s possible they were just pintos with some seasoning.
On another visit I tried the Mole Michoano con tamales. I’m not an expert nor a big fan of mole but I thought I’d try it after a recent discussion here on CH; it was very rich and chocolate-y. The chicken breast/wing piece was melt in your mouth tender and excellent but the drumstick in the mole had been over-cooked and was dry. This came with arroz Mexicana con verduras, basically the Mexican version of pilaf I guess, that was very good, too. The tamale was a big disappointment, dry, looking like it had been baked or grilled rather than steamed, and without any filling, just a big amount of masa. I wouldn’t order this again.
You can get your Tex-Mex fix here. Like most authentic Mexican places around here there are Tex-Mex selections on the menu, in this case a section entitled Platillos Tex-Mex. I had seen a dish being served on one visit which I guessed was the Tamales con carne de puerco from the Tex-Mex section and I tried this on another visit. I didn’t get what I had seen but what I got was very good. The tamales (3) were very large, again rather dry, but spicy and filled with a generous amount of shredded and chopped pork. They were topped with a very pale yellow cheese sauce that tasted like Velveeta and included bits of chiles and possibly green onion. They were very good despite being quite dry. They came with arroz Mexicana and refritos which unfortunately were just plain old pintos – I had been looking forward to the ones I had been served before.
I’ve seen other good looking dishes being served including a fajita platter and caldo de mariscos. Many people seem to order tostadas. A gordita de lengua I had on one visit was good. The Tex-Mex section includes enchiladas Tex-Mex, bisteck a la tampiquena, enchiladas suizas de pollo or fajita, a Texas Plate, translated as carne guisada, a chimichanga (!) and burrito Jalisco (!), both of which must be quite large judging form the pictures and the price ($6.95). The have cabrito on weekends only, as birria de cabrito and consome de cabrito; I haven’t tried it yet.
The salsa is very bland; this is a not a big turnoff to me as it makes it easier to avoid pigging out on chips and salsa before the real food arrives. With some dishes you also get squeeze bottles of green and red sauces which are likewise bland. I’ve come to the conclusion the cuisine of Michoacan is not as spicy as most Texans are used to.
If you’re used to the huge portions served in most restaurants these days you may be disappointed in the amount of food served but I’ve left satisfied and not stuffed, which is pretty ideal to me.
I don’t know if this is a destination worth driving all the way across town for but if you’re in the SW looking for good chow I’d recommend it; I’ll be going back and probably will choose this over the highly touted Lopez on Wilcrest.
P.S. Anybody know what aporreado is? It was the lunch special today and all I could find out is it's beef, looks perhaps julienned?