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Jan 15, 2011 09:00 AM

Authentic Mexican joints in Houston (or Woodlands)

So I'm a chowhound from Chicago, and I, for some reason, didn't do the proper research before heading down to visit my parents in Houston. A few members of my family don't eat meat on Saturdays (it's cultural), but we are all huge fans of authentic Mexican cuisine. I know it sounds ridiculous, but Chicago has some amazing joints, and I'm almost hoping Houston can put us to shame. Any suggestions? Anywhere in the Woodlands area and around Houston will be fine by me.


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  1. Otillia's on Long Point does a really good chile relleno, and the chile en nogado, which I haven't tried because the relleno is so good. They both can be ordered meatless. Otilla's is on Long Point in Spring Branch, about a forty five minute drive from The Woodlands.

    1. For authentic interior Mexican cuisine, I'd recommend Hugo's. They're a bit of a drive from the Woodlands, though -- inside loop 610, in the Montrose / inner Westheimer neigborhood. IMHO they're worth the drive.

      1. Another "bit of a drive" from the Woodlands is my personal favorite inexpensive "authentic Mexican cuisine" restaurant - Ostioneria Mar Azul down on Bellfort. It's sorta the opposite of Hugo's, which I also love. Hugo's is fancy, upscale and high end.

        Ostioneria Mar Azul is about as "downscale" as you can get.

        As their name suggests, they specialize in seafood. Their mojarra is fabulous; the ceviche equally terrific. Also the seafood 'caldos' - soups and stews.

        This place is so "authentic" that it's hard to remember you're still in the US. It helps if you speak some Spanish. Every time I'm in there, I'm the only white face.

        Ostioneria Mar Azul
        10822 W Bellfort St, Houston, TX 77099

        1. Pico's Mex-Mex is well regarded. It's on Bellaire near Hillcroft. When you talk about Chicago's Mexican, are you referring mostly to Rick Bayless's places? I didn't know there was much in the way of Mexican food (or Tex-Mex) in Chicago.

          Pico's Restaurant
          5941 Bellaire Blvd, Houston, TX 77081

          1 Reply
          1. re: Lambowner

            You're kidding, right? Chicago is one of the best markets for Mexican restaurants. Frontera Grill is probably the most well known outside Chicago, but there are many many others. Now Tex-Mex, that's another story.

            That being said, all of those mentioned above are spot on. Pico's and Hugo's would be my recs.

            Pico's Restaurant
            5941 Bellaire Blvd, Houston, TX 77081

          2. Try Dona Tere Mexican Restaurant on Beechnut or Fonda Santa Rosa on Highway 6 (they’re both owned by the same people). I’m from Mexico City and these places are probably as close as I’ve been able to come to finding truly authentic Mexican dishes from the central and southern regions of the country. If you go to one of these I would highly recommend you try the tamales as they are prepared in a more traditional way from southern Mexico using banana leaf which gives them a very distinct flavor. Or try the “tamal de dulce” for desert as these are an absolute favorite from Mexico City. In summary they have a lot of really good authentic dishes (for a reasonable price as well) here which you will be hard to find in most other cities in the US.
            If you also want to try some dishes from Northern Mexico I would recommend you go to Taco Palenque on South Wayside . While the restaurant is setup a bit like a fast food joint (you order your food and then they bring it to your table) the quality and taste of the food is much better than any fast food place! Also while you wait they have a very nice salsa bar with chips, guacamole, etc. which you can help yourself to as many times as you want. And while you will see some tex-mex options on the menu which are mainly there to please American pallets they offer a lot of authentic food from northern Mexican states like Sinaloa, and Nuevo Leon.

            Dona Tere Mexican Restaurant
            9908 Beechnut St Ste H, Houston, TX 77036