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Coming to Houston - Only interested in Tex-Mex or Mexican

Den Sep 4, 2008 12:16 PM

I'm going to Houston for a family event and am only interested in eating Tex-Mex or Mexican when I'm there. I lived in Dallas 20 years ago and moved to Philly and am pretty excited about getting back to Texas for some of the food I've missed. I have probably 6 meals to eat out and am only doing Mexican or Tex-Mex. What are the can't miss standards these days (I only remember places like Ninfa's and Pappasita's from when I used to go to Houston way back when)?

  1. r
    Reefmonkey Oct 27, 2008 01:07 PM

    The original Ninfa's on Navigation is still fun and good, but the chain Ninfa's are not worth it.

    Hugo's is great upscale interior Mexican, and Hugo Ortega is now nationally recognized.

    Maria and Selma's in the Museum District has great street mexican food.

    The place I recommend most of all is El Tiempo (owned by Mama Ninfa's son) - fantastic fajitas, great margaritas. There are two locations - one on Richmond and Buffalo Speedway, and one on Washington near Waugh or Studemont.

    Another recommendation - there is a great taco truck behind the Airline Farmer's Market (AKA Canino's) on Airline. Serves molleja (sweetbread) tacos. A french chef has said they are the best sweetbreads he has had in America.

    1. l
      lyn Oct 26, 2008 09:15 AM

      We liked La Mexicana http://www.lamexicanarestaurant.com/
      for a great late breakfast. The beans are great. Clearly a neighborhood favorite.

      a little more spendy, but obviously very popular both in the neighborhood and throughout the area- El Tiempo. We went to the washington location. The crab enchilladas were amazing. The grill dishes looked terrific too. Tasty margaritas as well
      http://www.eltiempocantina.com/

      1. s
        seethemoon Sep 9, 2008 08:17 AM

        I second El Jardin, you can get Mexican or Tex-Mex here. Mariachis play on Friday nights. The other poster is right, it's deep in the barrio, but we've (two gringa's) never felt at ease even at night. They have lighted parking in front or in their lot on the side street.
        For straight Mexican you might want to try Taqueria del Sol and grab something from the panaderia for later. Gulf Frwy @ Park Place one exit south of the 610 loop.

        1. c
          cindy22 Sep 5, 2008 05:44 AM

          Pico's is certainly a unique restaurant. My favorite menu item is the chiles en nogada, a roasted poblano pepper stuffed with shredded pork (or a veggie rice option), then topped with a creamy cold walnut sauce, then sprinkled with some pomegranate (sp?) seeds. Delicious. It's a bargain at lunch, you only get one, but that's all you need, cuz they're so rich. Their chile rellenos, meat or cheese (nice mexican white cheese) are delicious, too.

          1 Reply
          1. re: cindy22
            b
            bornie Sep 5, 2008 02:27 PM

            In addition to my Hugo's pick above, let me also mention Irma's Southwestern Grille (not to be confused with momma Irma's--this one is run by a son(s)) on Texas,, just off the downtown area. This is a restaurant only open daytime (lunch) with daily specials and open at night only when ballgames are being played. Usually busy with the suit crowd during the day. Terrific food,, cheese enchiladas are great as are the fish and shrimp taco's! The two sauces for chip dipping are wonderful. Not to be missed...

          2. zorra Sep 4, 2008 08:23 PM

            Don't miss Hugo's, especially if you love mole. They grind their own cacao beans to make their mole and chocolate dishes. I've never eaten anything there that wasn't fabulous.

            1. j
              jamtart Sep 4, 2008 05:24 PM

              A friend of mine raved about El Tiempo and we tried it a few weeks ago. It was great!

              2 Replies
              1. re: jamtart
                danhole Sep 5, 2008 09:23 AM

                I second the El Tiempo recommendation. Good food and lots of it!

                1. re: danhole
                  f
                  finnadat Sep 5, 2008 01:10 PM

                  People love it, but I really don't get El Tiempo - everything is focused on the parillia (sp?) which is mostly simply grilled meats and nothing I have had there has been interesting.
                  I would suggest hugo's like others, Otilia's, jarro cafe for tacos and check out the taco trucks -
                  http://www.houstonpress.com/2007-03-1... - i've been meaning to try Taqueria Tacambaro but haven't made it yet.

              2. m
                maryanntex Sep 4, 2008 02:41 PM

                Our favorites are Teotihuacan and Pico's. And Seco's, where I'm about to go right now. Great corn enchiladas and salmon salad and pollo Moran, etc. Also, for breakfast, I get tacos (and cinnamon coffee and fresh orange juice and flan) at El Rey on Washington. Also good, but Central American, not Mexican, is Cafe Red Onion. Goode Company Mexican has good breakfasts; also, Good Company Seafood has a great Campechana Extra. The original Ninfa's on Navigation is still good, but not the other locations--at least not those that I've been to in the past 10 years. Hugo's is good if you're looking for upscale. Check out these and others on www.b4-u-eat.com.

                5 Replies
                1. re: maryanntex
                  b
                  bornie Sep 4, 2008 04:03 PM

                  Hugo's=Authentic Interior Mexican... Bonus,,, try the Sunday Brunch!

                  1. re: maryanntex
                    j
                    James Cristinian Sep 4, 2008 05:48 PM

                    I went to Teotihuacan and was not impressed after hearing such good things about it. The carnitas were terrible and the fajitas and grilled shrimp were average at best. The chips and salsa also were run of the mill. The best thing was the queso flameado. Please tell me what you like there as I would like to go back, maybe I ordered the wrong things or caught them on the wrong day. Pico's is a must. Start with shaker margaritas, the come in mini shakers like bartenders use, order them straight up. This is not the sicky sweet margaritas that many places serve, they're the real deal and potent. I like the chilorio and camarones al ajillo off the appetizer menu. The chilorio is roasted pork in a spicy red sauce. Cochinita pibil is also good, but I stay away from Tex Mex here, the fajitas and chicken are only average. Since you only want Tex Mex or Mexican and have some time I'd suggest heading to the east side. Try Los Molcajetes on Wayside and I10 East on a Friday or Saturday night and get a taste of a Houston Hispanic family restaurant with some live music. They are gringo friendly but at night there will be few anglos. I've been many times and love it plus it is easy to find. Deep in the barrio try El Jardin on Harrisburg near 76th next to a fire station. I would recommend going during the day unless you are familiar with the neighborhood. For something more elegant in a beautiful setting there is Las Alamedas on the Katy Freeway near Voss. As far as the East Side restaurants skip the margaritas. Also do go to Ninfa's Navigation although it is a shadow of its former self, the menu has changed, and the margaritas give me a headache.

                    1. re: James Cristinian
                      m
                      maryanntex Sep 4, 2008 09:25 PM

                      James, my favorite thing at Teotihuacan is the snapper gringo. The other fish dishes are really good, too. Recently I've been ordering the chicken enchiladas verdes. My kids love the fajitas.

                      It's a great place to have a party or family dinner, etc., especially on Monday or Tuesday. Margaritas are cheap those days (not nearly as good as those at Pico's, of course, but much cheaper) and the manager will really work with you to stay within your budget.

                      1. re: maryanntex
                        b
                        Bulldozer Sep 5, 2008 02:13 PM

                        If you're into Snapper, Tampico right up the road is another great choice. That's also my favorite Margarita in town (rocks though; I don't get the frozen sludge thing that people seem to love everywhere). I'm puzzled by the french fries or fried rice, but the seafood is awesome. Sit upstairs for a slightly better atmosphere.

                        But I do love Teotihuacan otherwise, although I'm usually only there for breakfast. That stretch of Airline is one of the gems of H-town.

                    2. re: maryanntex
                      j
                      James Cristinian Sep 5, 2008 01:32 AM

                      Thanks. When my wife and I walked in and saw all the Hispanic famillies dining I figured something good was going on. My wife is also Hispanic and we'll definitely go back.

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