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Jun 25, 2010 08:48 PM

Taquerias In Houston

I will be spending some time in Houston around the Katy area and was just wondering if anyone could recommend any taquerias or authentic Mexican restaurants in Houston. I would especially really love to find any place that sells good tacos al pastor since I'm originally from Mexico City and these are a staple of the area which I haven't had in years.


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  1. I’m not too familiar with the Katy area so don’t know what’s available there specifically. Al Pastor is very popular on menus here, especially at taquerias and taco trucks, but there is a problem. Health department regulations in Houston prohibit authentic trompo cooking, the meats must be cooked before going on the spit. This means it’s often served over-cooked and dried out. You’ll be likely to find better al pastor outside the city limits of Houston although some places in the city manage to turn out a good product..

    The best I know of in the whole area is Karanchos, on Sheldon Rd., just a ½ mile north of I-10, in Channelview, which is on the far east side of Houston. It will be easy for you to get there, although time consuming. It’s a fun place. They don’t have a website.

    Everything I’ve had at Jarro Café, on Gessner just a few blocks north of Longpoint, is good including the pastor. It’s a sitdown restaurant and taco trailer at the same location. The trailer is usually rated one of the best in Houston and the place is noted for its 5 salsas. I believe the owner is from Mexico City. Gessner is the first exit on I-10 inbound from Katy inside Beltway 8.

    I’ve see several taco trucks around town labeled Taqueria DF but never stopped at one. I know there’s one on Longpoint, just 2 blocks east of Gessner. Longpoint is one of our more famous streets for street food; it runs parallel to I-10, a ½ mile north, so this is just a few blocks from Jarros. Although I haven’t eaten at one I’ve noted the menu and they do serve al pastor.

    Some other places (in Houston) where I’ve had good al pastor include 100% Taquito, a re-creation of a Mexico City taco stand in the Greenway Plaza area along US 59 S, and the Taconmadre taco buses and restaurant, which are all on the East side (I’ve only been to the original on Edgebrook).

    Tamales Dona Tere, with several locations, specializes in Mexico City style tamales and is very good but it doesn’t have tacos. Edit: I see the one showing up is way out on the Gulf Fwy; I'd recommend you go to the original location on Beechnut which is a lot closer to Katy and where I think they actually make all the tamales so they'll be fresher and there'll be a better selection.

    Tortas Las Llardas is a small local chain specializing in Mexico City style tortas but they also do tacos. I only went once and wasn’t impressed with the torta I had so haven’t been back and don’t know about their pastor but there is one on Fry Rd. out in the Katy area.

    The names of Mexican restaurants around here often include a reference to the city or state whose dishes they purport to serve and I’m sure there are more with DF in the name but I can’t think of any right now but you’ll find al pastor on many menus and I think it’s been on the menu of just about every taco truck I’ve ever stopped at.






    Jarro Cafe
    1521 Gessner Dr, Houston, TX 77080

    Tamales Dona Tere
    9335 Gulf Fwy Ste C, Houston, TX 77017

    Tortas Las Llardas
    3418 Highway 6 S, Houston, TX 77082

    4 Replies
    1. re: dexmat

      Interesting, a friend and I used to go to Doneraki on Fulton before they expanded, and before our fellow gringo poulace discovered it. The trompo was delicious. Then they closed and re-opened and the trompo is no longer out front like it was in the past.I thought I had read something about a new law banning this sort of cooking. Their website stil mentions the famous trompo, although it is nowhere in sight. Do you know when this law was enacted?

      1. re: James Cristinian

        Sorry, no idea. I first heard of it a few years ago, maybe right here on CH. Just assumed it had been around forever as I don't remember any suggestion it was a new regulation.

      2. re: dexmat

        Wow, dexmat, that Jarro menu looks pretty extensive. Sounds great.

        Jarro Cafe
        1521 Gessner Dr, Houston, TX 77080

        1. re: dimsumgirl

          That reminds me, I heard somewhere recently that Jarro has changed hands and gone downhill. Anybody know anything? I haven't been up that way in quite a while.

          Jarro Cafe
          1521 Gessner Dr, Houston, TX 77080

      3. Mexico's Deli at Dairy Ashford and Westheimer.

        The proprietor, Mr. Garcia, once owned a small chain of shops in Mexico City.

        The pastor is excellent.

        Mexico's Deli
        2374 S Dairy Ashford St, Houston, TX 77077

        3 Replies
        1. re: DoobieWah


          Thanks for all of your excellent posts about eateries around Houston. I really appreciate your taking the time to share.

          And, simply due to you, I gave Mexico's Deli a try yesterday. Had, among other things, the Cream of Poblano Soup.

          It was so good that I went back today and bought a huge tub of it to bring home and freeze in smaller portions.

          I honestly think that might be the best cup o' soup in all of Houston. They serve it hot, with cheese and chips, but I had some cold a couple hours ago, and think that, as good as it is hot, it might be even better cold.

          Yesterday, at an adjacent table, I overheard a couple discussing the soup. I asked them if they came here often, and the woman said, "Oh yes, and primarily for this soup. We love Cream of Poblano. Other restaurants around here also offer it, but this one is by far the best."

          It's going to be a staple around our house from now on, and, DW (if I may be so bold as to call you that), I owe it all to you.

          So, thanks!

          Mexico's Deli
          2374 S Dairy Ashford St, Houston, TX 77077

          1. re: Jaymes

            Do you think I could smuggle this home in my "soup case" back to California? Opinion please Doobie Wah.

            1. re: Jaymes

              Great! I'm glad you tried it.

              You deserve it. They deserve it. I get a pat on the back. Everybody wins!

              You're right. Great soup. As I noted on the other thread, the heat level can vary quite a bit. Maybe once in ten times it has been so spicy as to set me alight. And I love spicy food even more that I love living in Houston! But when that happens, (and it will), all you can do is just chow away and let the endorphins do their thing!

              It's 8:30 am on a Sunday morning, and just typing about it is giving my Pavlovian response a workout. By the way, you do know they are open for breakfast, right?

              Make mine huevos con chorizo tacos, por favor.

              And for my Dim Sum Chum, I'm afraid that poblano cream soup will not pass Homeland Security's liquids and gels restrictions, whether carried on or in your "soup case". (Which means of course, that the terrorists have already won!)

              So when you get to town, have a cup of soup and share in some of the taco and torta offerings with a friend or two, (wink, wink, nudge, nudge), and then on to the sushi bar!

              P.S. Thanks Jaymes for taking the time to let me know you tried it. Very glad I could help!

          2. Taco Del Sol on the east side of I45 on Broadway just north of Hobby airport. The taco al pastor is by-far one of the tastiest pork and beef combo's I have ever had. They only top it with cilantro and onions. ($1.50 a piece).

            Taqueria Del Sol
            8114 Park Place Boulevard
            Houston, TX 77017-3015
            (713) 644-0535‎

            Taqueria Del Sol
            8114 Park Place Blvd, Houston, TX 77017

            1. Thanks for all the answers I'll have to make a list with all these places so I can check them out. Really so they basically aren't allowed to make it the traditional style with the trompo? Because I've tried al pastor in other places in the US and none of them use it I wonder if there are similar regulations in other parts of the country?

              By the way is this (http://www.b4-u-eat.com/houston/resta...) the Tamales Doña Tere because I found them online and while they don't seem to have tacos they appear to have some other foods which are popular in the center/south of Mexico.

              3 Replies
              1. re: ruta66

                No, this is Tamales Dona Tere http://www.b4-u-eat.com/houston/resta... . Same ownership I think. The restaurant is sit down service, the tamale places, the two I've been to, are counter service and only tamales? Can't remember for sure, but not the more diverse menu of Mexican dishes at the restaurant. I think some of the reviewers posted got confused too.

                Like I said, meat must already have been cooked before going on the spit. From what I understand, it's a concern that insufficiently cooked pork might be served otherwise, a concern that is probably not well justified? Yeah, you almost never see the trompo in a restaurant that claims to do it authentically; if they have one, it'll be in the kitchen, out of sight. I've seen some places that claim to do al pastor only on certain days - maybe they do it right then? Maybe there's a loophole? The only one near me that did that (Fridays only) went out of business.

                1. re: dexmat

                  Oh okay then well I'll have to add those two to my list as well.

                  Yeah I don't really understand it since I ate plenty of tacos al pastor back in Mexico in everything from established restaurants to street stands and I never once received a piece of meat that was not properly cooked. But oh well I suppose regulations and such can't be the same everywhere.

                2. re: ruta66

                  I know of two places here in North Carolina that do pastor on the trompo, but it is uncommon. I'd guess it has more to do with cutting corners than regulations.

                3. This is a big topic, and I wanted to throw my 2 cents in. Spanish Flowers is in the old North Side (which I think of as the original Mexican part of the city). It got popular several years back, and some people think it has suffered because of that, but I thought of it right away when someone mentioned tacos with just onion and cilantro. They seem really authentic, and they're open 24 hours.
                  The other place I wanted to mention - even though I may take some heat - is Taco Cabana. They are a huge chain, but I am consistently pleased with the straight-up crispy beef tacos there. There is a very particular taste to a good Tex-Mex beef taco that I'm always looking for, and they have it, at least at my local Cabana.