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Jan 25, 2010 04:44 AM

Tex Mex near Houston Medical Center help

I'm a displaced Houstonian living up in Boston, where eating Tex mex is the triumph of optimism over experience. My husband, from Dallas, and I try to assuage our tex mex withdrawal whenever we're anywhere near home.
He's going to be in Houston to give a talk at the medical center, and since I went to Rice, was asking me for tex mex recommendations. If he had a car , I'd steer him to Ninfa's navigation. Unfortunately he won't have a car, so he'd like to keep it within a short cab ride, and I'm coming up dry. It doesn't have to be fabulous or terribly chow-worthy- anything will be better than what we get up here. Just some decent salsa and a good margarita.

The closest places I can think of is Pappasitos on Richmond- does anyone have a better or closer suggestion?

Thanks 'hounds!

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    El Tiempo has a location on Montrose Blvd that isn't too far from there. They are my new favorite. The crab quesadillas, while expensive, are so wonderful. The filet fajitas made with tenderloin are also wonderful. I'm anxious to try more dishes from there. Two Saturday lunches are my experience there thus far. I think we are going Thursday before we go to the car show. Also, I've only been to the one on Washington.

    The last three times we ate at Pappasitos, it was awful. We ate at the one in Clear Lake and after two shockingly bad meals, tried the one on I-10 east and it was the same. That was about 2-3 years ago. We went there 2-3 times a month for well over a decade so it was a terrible letdown. Maybe they are better now but I'm just not willing to go. El Tiempo is better than they ever were anyway. It's a lot like the Ninfa's on Navigation, it's owned by her family so of course it would be similar.

    5 Replies
    1. re: texasredtop


      I thought of la Jaliscience which is right near there on Montrose- but was thinking that might be further than he would want to go via taxi. Depending on how late his flight gets in, La Jaliscience might be one of his only options open really late
      Does anyone know if Taqueria la Tapatia on Richmond is a) still around b) still any good?

      1. re: cpingenot

        El Tiempo also has a location on Richmond. I think we're going to try it Thursday at lunch because it's closer to Reliant where the car show is. I can let you know if it's as good as the Washington location if you are interested. It took me a long time to go, hearing all the great reviews. My only regret is that I didn't get there sooner.

        1. re: cpingenot

          La Jaliscience is gone I think. La Tapatia is still there, now a local chain with multiple locations and I haven't eaten there in several years. That one is open late, I think.

          There is a Hugo's Taqueria in the Med Center food court fwiw.

          Here's a list of Mexican in Montrose:

          Just about all of them closer to the Med Center than the Little Pappasito's; there's a Ninfa's right across the street from LP but Ninfa's is a chain now, not owned by Ninfa's family (El Tiempo is the Laurenzo family operation now).

          I've never understood the appeal of Chapultepec but it is open 24 hours. Hugo's on Westheimer (very upscale interior Mexican) and La Guadalupana (also interior Mexican) are both excellent. Besides these there is Tacos A Go Go on Main about at Alabama (?) - somewhat limited menu.

        2. re: texasredtop

          texasredtop, I know you like those crab quesadillas, but try the nachos. I get them cheese and crab only, with great refried beans on the side. The same wonderful crab is used in sinfully rich enchiladas

          1. re: James Cristinian

            We split an order of the crab nachos as an appetizer last time and they were very good but I think the quesadillas are a hair better. They have a little bit of bacon and artichokes on them too. My step-daughter got the crab enchiladas and I tried them. They are all really really delicious. I don't remember the crab nachos having beans on them and I almost always order my nachos without beans as I don't care for refried. There must have been just a little because I can't even remember them having any. Just the huge chunks of crab!!! I almost didn't get the crab quesadilla the first time - I think it's about $18 for one. I could only eat half of it though. I heated some up the next day and the remainder the following day and it was still just so so good.

        3. I like the Ruchi's at S. Main and south loop. It's one of a small chain, some of the others are not so good, but this is one of the better locations.

          2 Replies
          1. re: absurdnerdbird

            The one on Richmond at Sage is horrible. My co-workers used to eat there and always complained of stomach aches after. They ate there because it was cheap. So because of that, I've never tried any of their locations, I assumed they were all bad.

            1. re: texasredtop

              Funny how people's experiences (and stomachs) differ. I guess I've eaten at 4 of the Ruchi's (though none in several years) and I thought that was the best one! They're really Mexican diners, kind of like a Mexican Denny's. There is a section of Tex-Mex on the menu but they're really northern Mexican (and the OP asked for Tex-Mex). They are all open 24 hours, however, if the OP has a time issue. Salsas can be very good but vary from time to time and place to place - seems to depend on who's in the kitchen like a lot of small Mex places.

              Another one on that b4 list is La Mexicana on Montrose. I haven't eaten there in 15 years maybe but it sure is popular. There's a review of that on; the Sterns loved it, so if the OP wants the advice of a couple from Connecticut about Mexican in Houston ----- lol.

          2. El Tiempo on Richmond is probably the best bet. However, two others that are relatively close are Casa Dominquez on Bissonnet near 610 (by Episcopal HS) and Escalante's in Meyerland (Beechnut at 610). Casa is a hole in the wall but good. Escalantes is a chain, but it is were we venture for lunch on a regular basis from TMC.

            One other thought is Cafe Red Onion (on Kirby between 59 & Richmond) - it isn't totally Tex-Mex, I think they call it Latin Fusion, but it is damn good.

            1. I agree with DaTulip about Casa Dominguez--neighborhood-type joint with classic Tex-Mex--one of my favorites. Of the ones on the b4-u-eat list linked below, my choice would be Maria Selma. I've always had good food there.

              Goode Co. Taqueria is across the street from their BBQ place down on Kirby, and has more-than-acceptable Tex-Mex choices. He's probably not craving grilled catfish, but theirs is fabulous to use to make fish tacos. I've not had a margarita there, though, so can't speak to that.

              1 Reply
              1. re: zorra

                I'll third Casa Dominguez, just good, basic TexMex., the kind of place that brings butter with the chips, although now you have to ask. I usually have beef or cheese enchiladas, they taste good with a cold Carta Blanca. Also with Goode Co. this is probably their best operation with great mesquite grilled fajitas and burgers, and a tasty salsa. Just don't pust it and go to the bbq place, vastly overated.

              2. Thanks everyone!

                I used to get great breakfast tacos at La Mexicana, but remember the rest of the menu being pretty meh.

                It's been a while, but I remember South Main/ South Loop as being a pretty sketchy/ dismal area, especially late, with the astrodome and all the deserted parking lots, Astroworld, and all the giant gated condoplexes. I think my husband would rather go north and west- I'll pass along the suggestions.

                We can actually get decent Pueblan and Yucatan food up here, and we make our own moles, tamales, chiles rellenos, carnitas, etc, There's also a fair bit of Cal-mex and burrito joints, but it's not the same as tucking into a combo plate with a margarita on a Friday night, and that's the kind of the tex mex that baffles people up here. Once I got tacos with peas and carrots mixed with ground beef !?!

                1 Reply
                1. re: cpingenot

                  While visiting Houston for the Texas Bowl, we ate our NYE dinner at the El Tiempo on Montrose. Parrilladas and Crab quesadillas were outstanding! Margaritas were great, too!