One night in Houston
I'm from New England, and have one night in Houston (probably the only one I'll ever have). Suggestions on where to have dinner, especially someplace unlike what the Northeast has to offer?
Goode Company (two locations) for barbecue.
El Tiempo Cantina (two locations) for Mexican food.
Pappadeaux (several locations) for Cajun food.
Cafe Red Onion (three locations) for Central American/Caribbean food
All local chains, all serve very good food..
I would avoid Goode and not do barbecue at all, the few good places will have their best barbecue at lunch. I second El Tiempo, have not been to Hugo's but have heard good things about it.
Hope you enjoy your one night here in Houston. If I only had one night to eat in town, these would make the top of my hit list (in no particular order). I’m a native Houstonian and these are the places I crave when I find myself far from home:
1) Hugo’s, 1602 Westheimer Rd Houston, TX 77006. Phone: (713) 524-7744.
See the menu: http://www.hugosrestaurant.net/
Upscale Mexican (not very Tex-Mex). We like to order the big sampler/appetizer plate and taste a bit of everything. I don’t know what kind of budget you have. When we were there in December, the sampler dish alone was around $45 and it is really apps for two people – not a full meal. We also like their margarita menu. Very tasty. Not sickly sweet and slushy – that is not a real margarita in my book. Hugo’s has a margarita called “The Oaxacan” which is definitely different from most. It has a smoky, savory flavor that you’ll either love or hate (I liked it). Even better than their top-notch margaritas, are the Mezcal and Tequila flights. If you are looking for something “non-New England”, I would order the Mezcal flight. We enjoyed it.
On another visit to Hugo’s we ordered Sopesitos (three masa pancakes topped with duck with mole Poblano; pork cracklings in salsa verde; and rabbit tinga… in Houston, “tinga” usually means a spicy, messy moist stew, of shredded/pulled meat… could be beef, rabbit, pork. It all depends on the restaurant.) We also had their Cochinita Pibil (marinated slow roasted pork), oxtail soup, and some cabrito (goat) tacos. The cabrito was the only item that disappointed us. Better can be found at random taco trucks in Houston.
2) La Guadalupana Bakery & Café, 2109 Dunlavy, 77006 (closes on the early side… maybe 9 or 9:30pm
)This is a little hole in the wall with cheap good food. It always tastes so fresh like it’s all hand-made to order. I find it difficult to order anything besides the Chilaquilies with tomatillo sauce (the green sauce) when I am there --- I love it! Order it with two fried eggs on top. You will be in heaven. I also enjoy their guisado de puerco plate ( tender chunks of pork in a red stew-like sauce). My friend likes their chile rellenos with red sauce. Their tres leches cake and flan are also tasty. The flan is like rich smooth velvet – not dense and rubbery like some that I’ve had. I heard the owner of La Guadalupana used to work as a pastry chef so that would explain the tasty desserts. Also, try the “Vampiro”, a layered drink of fresh beet, carrot and orange juices. If you want a sweet dessert drink, try their horchata. They do not have a liquor license, but they do allow you to bring your own beer.
3) La Mexicana, 1018 Fairview St. 77006, 713-521-0963
Has some really delicious tacos on their steam table. Order your tacos with flour (not corn) tortillas. The flour tortillas are some of the best we have ever tried. Try their carnitas tacos (pork that has been slow cooked for hours and then roasted until it has a crispy caramelized crunchy texture on the outside). Also try the carnitas guisadas tacos. These are my favorite because they pack a good amount of spicy heat, The tacos al pastor are also tasty. This taco taste better with corn tortillas… be sure to squeeze lime and pour tomatilla sauce on it. Make sure you get the red and green sauces to accompany your tacos.
4) Gerardo's Drive-in Grocery , 609 Patton St., 77009
If you are up for a “slice-of life kind of place”, try Gerardo's. I cannot sum up the full Gerardo experience any better than it has been done in this Robb Walsh article:
… and yes, I’m a fan of their bbq’d mutton
I also agree with the others --- Goode Company BBQ is not so good. I wouldn’t bother with BBQ in Houston. Concentrate on Mexican or Tex-mex. There are also some good Indian and Pakistani restaurants here too. I honestly don’t know if those are popular where you are coming from. If not, consider Himalaya, which is mentioned frequently on the Houston Chowhound boards. I absolutely love the place… cannot get enough of their lamb biryani or the dal fry. Try a dish called “Balochi Resha Gosht”. I don’t know what Himalaya puts in their food but it has made me an addict!