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jscarbor

Texas food trail: Houston -- try something new!

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You are getting both the flat & the point on that sandwich. Looks like a great sandwich but I always get sauce on the side. The beans were different, a nice change from what you usually find. I've been trying to perfect beans from scratch and will not fault anyone if they use canned beans. I rarely get sides, I usually just get a sandwich, but I wanted to try the two meats and then there was the homemade boudin. It was supposed to be lunch & dinner but only half the boudin made it that far. I was stuffed but happy.

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I haven't been to La Guadalapuna(spelling off) in a long time but they have great breakfast. The machacado dish is excellent as our the chilaquiles(add an egg).

For lunch I remember the mole pablano being really good.

Its on Dunlavy in Montrose area.


Edited by jscarbor (log)

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Wife and I just moved into the Heights and are exploring the new neighborhood. We made our second visit to Alma Latina on Shepherd around 22nd street. Thus far we've tried the Enchiladas Suizas, Enchilades Verdes, Beef Enchiladas (fajita), Chile Relleno, and Quesadillas. All have been really good, with particular attention paid to the Chile Relleno.

They serve breakfast all day long and I'm looking forward to the near future visit where I can try the Chilequilles. We're really excited to find this place within a few blocks of the house.

Best,

M

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Fritanga Nica - Nicaraguan - Synott just north of Bissonnet.

Small menu (page and a half), no English translations but the owner speaks good English and was very helpful. I had the Enchilada Nicaraguense, basically a thin shredded beef and rice empanada made with a corn tortilla. The owner steered me towards Vaho (pronounced Baho), a weekend special consisting of beef, yuca and plantain steamed in a banana leaf, served with white rice. It was kind of dry, a stew without broth.

Everything is accompanied with ensalada de repollo, the Nicaraguan version of Central American curtido with shredded cabbage, carrot, tomato and purple onion. Rice also accompanies all dishes and plantain is very common.

For a beverage I had cacao, the Nica version of chocolate milk apparently made with grated, roasted cacao beans? Other beverages are chicha (corn), chilla, and cebada (barley).

Other appetizers include vigoron (yuca and chicharron steamed in a banana leaf - said to be a very popular street food), chancho adobado, and tacos nicas (flautas). Main courses will look familiar; one I want to try is Arroz a la Valenciana reflecting the Spanish influence, a Nica version of paella. Also Sopa de Cola (oxtail), available only on Sunday.

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This is a half portion of the Baho; I had asked about portion sizes and he offered to serve a half portion of anything. I left very full (cabbage, yuca and plantain are very filling).

The most expensive thing on the menu is $9. Closed Tuesdays.


Edited by brucesw (log)

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Sunrise tacos on Memorial next to the Shell gas station near Otto's.

I have had 3 very good tacos here recently. The barbacoa, migas taco with chorizo and the machacada. All are very good. 2 tacos is enough so my bill for tacos runs about $4.80 which is less than I usually spend to get 3 tacos at other taco stands. Good green salsa also.

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I had a very good platillo de carnitas at Mi Tienda, HEB’s Mexican specialty market on Spencer Hwy in South Houston. The food court was very impressive and I had trouble deciding what to try. The refritos were excellent; the salsa verde fiery, but the salsa roja was very tomatoey and may have just been an HEB jarred salsa. I picked up some telera, bolillo and pan dulce in the panaderia. The meat counter looks like a carniceria rather than a typical US meat market, with the meats stacked on top of each other right up against the glass instead of laid out in trays. There were some cuts you wouldn’t see in a normal HEB but I’m not sure there was anything you couldn’t find at a big Fiesta. I did pick up some chiles negro in a cello-pack, don’t believe I’ve ever seen them before in Houston. Mostly though the aisles looked just like a regular HEB with typical goods including Hill Country Fare generics; the Goya food section at the Foodtown near me is larger than what there was at Mi Tienda. Food court may be the best reason to go. Spanish is the first language spoken and the only language by some of the staff.

I tried a couple of tamales and a taco suadero at Taqueria D.F., 100% Chilanga, on Bissonnet just up and across from Sharpstown Hi. Been wanting to try this for some time to see if they had Mexico City style tamales like those at Dona Tere. The tamales were larger than typical Tex-Mex but not as big as DT but the most amazing thing was how spicy they were, especially the puerco but the pollo too. Pretty good. The waitress had said the suadero was pork and I had concluded it must have been finely diced roast pork sirloin but online descriptions say suadero refers to a portion of beef brisket? Mexico City style tacos are very small. She claims they do authentic trompo (al pastor) on Fridays.

An interesting entry on the menu was the Torta Huerfana (orphan). I can’t remember everything she listed but I know it included jamon, salchicha, chorizo, milaneza, yellow and white cheese, avocado, tomato. Then she pointed at the Torta Cubana on the menu and said it’s basically that with even more ingredients. $9 and she said only one person has ever finished a whole one. I may go back to give it a try.

The menu is only in Spanish but she was very friendly and helpful and spoke pretty good English.


Edited by brucesw (log)

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Just a note about a very good find, Bansuri Indian Food Corner is Houston's first vegetarian Indian taco truck! They're parked just north of West Bellfort on Wilcrest, just a couple of blocks from Lopez Mexican Restaurant. There are several Indo-Pak restaurants in the immediate vicinity and there seem to be lots of people from the sub-continent in the neighborhood.

They specialize in the street foods of Mumbai and they're very good. I've been 3 times in one week. Some of the foods put me in mind of my first visits to Himalaya.

They're only open in the evenings, 6 nights a week, for a few hours.

More info, pictures and a menu on my blog.

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Tortilleria San Luis is open in the strip center anchored by the Foodarama at 11502 S. Wilcrest. I got a couple of tacos al pastor on corn tortillas. The meat was just ok but the corn tortillas were the best I have had to date. Very soft without tearing, a little thicker then what I've gotten elsewhere. They were generous with the meat and asked me if I wanted cilantro & onions. I saved the sauces for the dozen tamales I bought for dinner. The tamales were a little bigger than what I usually see at Christmas and they looked to have more meat in them than usual. I'll report back after dinner. Right now I'm happily stuffed and looking forward to dinner. The sell their own chips & tostadas and I guess they sell tortillas too.

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Tortilleria San Luis is open in the strip center anchored by the Foodarama at 11502 S. Wilcrest.  I got a couple of tacos al pastor on corn tortillas.  The meat was just ok but the corn tortillas were the best I have had to date.  Very soft without tearing, a little thicker then what I've gotten elsewhere.  They were generous with the meat and asked me if I wanted cilantro & onions.  I saved the sauces for the dozen tamales I bought for dinner.  The tamales were a little bigger than what I usually see at Christmas and they looked to have more meat in them than usual.  I'll report back after dinner.  Right now I'm happily stuffed and looking forward to dinner.  The sell their own chips & tostadas and I guess they sell tortillas too.

Right there at the corner of Wilcrest and Bellfort? I didn't realize there was a tortilleria going in there - and tamales too? Tortillerias have been springing up all over the place in recent years. I'll have to check that one out, thanks.

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Right there at the corner of Wilcrest and Bellfort?  I didn't realize there was a tortilleria going in there - and tamales too?  Tortillerias have been springing up all over the place in recent years.  I'll have to check that one out, thanks.

Yep, a couple of doors down from the BBQ place. The pork tamales, well I sacrificed myself and ate a half dozen. They were flatish averaging 2 to 2.5 fingers across. Of the 6 I ate only one was more masa than meat. I've had all kinds of tamales, dry, super greasy, mostly masa, fat rather than meat and mystery meat. These were quality tamales, the pork was shredded with no fat included, in almost all there were good chuncks of pork. The masa was moist but not greasy. The two sauces included with the tacos, a dark red sauce and a green sauce. The red sauce tasted like it was made with anchos for flavor and chipotle for some smokey heat. I really liked that sauce, the bottom of the condiment cup had black seeds in it, I wonder if they were from a chipotle pepper? I only use the canned version. The green was tart and mild but you could taste the tomatillo and a little garlic? The place is clean and the ladies very nice but speak little english. They serve breakfast tacos, enchiladas etc. I'm looking forward to trying the rest of the menu.

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After reading through that link Bruce, that red sauce was more likely made with pasilla peppers. It just did not seem that hot.

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Right there at the corner of Wilcrest and Bellfort?  I didn't realize there was a tortilleria going in there - and tamales too?  Tortillerias have been springing up all over the place in recent years.  I'll have to check that one out, thanks.

Yep, a couple of doors down from the BBQ place. The pork tamales, well I sacrificed myself and ate a half dozen. They were flatish averaging 2 to 2.5 fingers across. Of the 6 I ate only one was more masa than meat. I've had all kinds of tamales, dry, super greasy, mostly masa, fat rather than meat and mystery meat. These were quality tamales, the pork was shredded with no fat included, in almost all there were good chuncks of pork. The masa was moist but not greasy. The two sauces included with the tacos, a dark red sauce and a green sauce. The red sauce tasted like it was made with anchos for flavor and chipotle for some smokey heat. I really liked that sauce, the bottom of the condiment cup had black seeds in it, I wonder if they were from a chipotle pepper? I only use the canned version. The green was tart and mild but you could taste the tomatillo and a little garlic? The place is clean and the ladies very nice but speak little english. They serve breakfast tacos, enchiladas etc. I'm looking forward to trying the rest of the menu.

I just checked it out. In the window they list enchiladas potosinas and rojos, other things, but I got there too early. At 11:15 all they had ready was still breakfast taco stuff. I did get a couple of pork tamales to go and had them for a snack but they were very dry, I'm guessing leftovers from yesterday rather than fresh made? Not bad - I'll look forward to trying them some other time as well as the enchiladas. Chips and tostadas looked good but I didn't see any tortillas!

The business card lists two other locations - on Gulfton in the Gulfton Ghetto and on S. Gessner, probably looks like it'll be between Bellaire and Harwin.

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Well, I've got another 6 to eat tonight, maybe I just got an exceptional batch. They were good though.

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6 perfect tamales for dinner tonight. My only guess is that yours came out of a steam pan whereas mine were pre-packaged in saran wrap after they were cooked and held in a warmer. The texture of the masa is almost creamy.

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Either that or we got different batches. Yours sound great. I'll give the place another try but wait until later in the day.

Since they have other locations, I wonder how much is done on premises? I'll have to look for a tortilla press machine next time.

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I'm going to hit them again after my appt in Clear Lake but I'm tamaled out so I'll try the enchiladas.

Update: They don't serve the enchiladas, they pre-package the for sale in a cooler. I had a beef plate and the meat was over-cooked and the refritos were nasty. The corn tortillas were once again very good but I did not have anything worth filling them with. Stick to the tamales.


Edited by JimH (log)

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I'm going to hit them again after my appt in Clear Lake but I'm tamaled out so I'll try the enchiladas.

Update:  They don't serve the enchiladas, they pre-package the for sale in a cooler.  I had a beef plate and the meat was over-cooked and the refritos were nasty.  The corn tortillas were once again very good but I did not have anything worth filling them with.  Stick to the tamales.

Ouch. Thanks for the warning.

I haven't been hitting any new places for a couple of weeks after a couple of really disappointing experiences. I've been hitting some old favorites like Capt. Benny's, Capt. Tom's, Hickory Hollow for CFS, and whittling away at all the stuff in the freezer.

I went to La Sani today for the first time in a long time:

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Clockwise from 11am - Daal, Chillies in gravy, Kari Pakora (fried vegetable balls in yogurt), and Grilled Chicken Boti. I also sampled the Chicken Karahi which wasn't as good, had some naan and the Shahi Kheer with pistachios, almonds and saffron.

Very satisfying. I skipped the Beef Masala which didn't look very interesting to me and some brown rice. Those chillies were the hottest thing I have ever had there and they did a nice job on my congestion from all the pollen these days. I needed tissues within a few seconds of finishing the first one. I've never seen them before. I think the place may have undergone a change of ownership. The condiments/salad bar component has been expanded.

This is my favorite Pakistani place after Himalaya and it's real convenient to me for a quick lunch.


Edited by brucesw (log)

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Stopped in today at Tortilleria Milpa Real, 10001 W. Bellfort, just off the Beltway, to pick up some tortillas for practice sessions for the enchilada cook-off. They had a sign up for almost a year before finally opening.

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Tortillas, tamales, champurrado. The tortillas are not as good as those from El Bollilo but better than store bought and they'll serve my purposes.

Tamales were great, larger than any I've had except those from Dona Tere, piping hot, a little dry, possibly due to the fact they were too large for the shucks and so only loosely wrapped in two, but the juices from the meat and flavorings permeated all the masa and they were very tasty. The pollo rostizados, a vivid orange color, looked great but I wasn't in the market for one. They have birria de chivo and lengua de res on the weekends only - didn't see any.

Champurrado was very good, just a hint of cinnamon so I added a bit more. No churros in evidence or listed. I should have headed on West to Shipley's at 59 and W. Bellfort - does Shipley's do churros?

Tamales $1 apiece, tortillas $1 a lb., champurrado (about 16 oz) $1.25, birria de chivo $8.99/lb, pollo rostizados $6.99/$9.99. One of the workers spoke good English.


Edited by brucesw (log)

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I saw that place the other day, I'll have to give it a try. How are you on Jamaican? I tried a place the other day and I liked their goat curry, very tender, great flavor. It's called The Hummingbird Restaurant, 9750 Hwy 6 South. The staff was really nice and helpful but they were sold out of alot on the menu.

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Never had a goat curry at a Jamaican place that I can remember. I've usually gone to Caribbean Cuisine on Bissonnet, near Sharpstown Hi; very good jerk chicken. There's another one on Biss near Boone, Tropical Island or something, but gets mixed reviews on b4 and never any cars there.

I checked in on Milpa Real today wanting to try the pollo rostizado but they didn't have any. I think they may have had a power outage and lost a lot of supplies. It was dark inside and fans only. She said they wouldn't have it until next week. The WalMart Neighborhood Center near there at S. Gessner and W. Bellfort was even more barren than it was the first time I went in after Ike; they lost power yesterday and had to throw out all their perishables. I've decided the tortillas at Milpa Real are not any better than store bought except that they're fresher; by the time a couple of days pass they're pretty indistinguishable from store-bought.

I stumbled on the Udipi at 3559 Hwy 6, near Settler's Way the other day. I've never remembered to try them up in the Hillcroft neighborhood so I took advantage and went in. It was kind of late in the lunch hour and the food on the buffet was not very warm but good otherwise and I want to go back and get there earlier.

I had the vegetable biryani, not as spicy as the biryani's at Himalaya but good; iddly and iddly fry (I liked the fries better), bajii pokara (I think I got that right - battered and fried chile pepper strips), mehdu vada (lentil donut), a mushroom masala that was very 'meaty' tasting, and an eggplant curry I can't remember the name of, all very good. They bring you out a freshly made dosa and the guy was very helpful, explaining about the chutneys - he brought over the 3 - a coconut chutney, one with tomato (served warm, the warmest thing I had) and another one. One of the last two was pretty spicy, can't remember which now. Also tried the gulab jamoon which were cooked almost to the point of dissolution. Everything is labeled. I skipped a few things; they also had Rasam, a soup, daal, plus fresh fruit sections and Sheer for desserts. Looks like they've got a big enough menu to have different things on the buffet regularly. $7.99 for the lunch buffet, 11a-3p ($2 more on weekends).

I haven't been impressed with Bombay Sweets buffet on Hillcroft; this was better as far as I'm concerned, not as good as Bhojan but I'll be going back to try again.


Edited by brucesw (log)

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I mis-spoke, on the menu it reads "curried goat", "a Jamaican favorite".

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No, I haven't had the time to get back there.  I have tried Smokin' Mike's on Hwy 6 just North of West Airport (in the same strip center with Javred Nahari), I thought the sausage was great but pass on the rest.  I have no experience with Pakistani food but I did like the beef nahari at Javred Nahari, the owner is very nice - even scored a free dessert first time there.

Great - another Pakistani place. I'll have to try them both. Beef Nihari is an incredible dish.

To update: Javred Nahari, was bought out and after a remodel renamed Chandni. I tried their beef nahari tonight, not as spicy as the previuos owners but there was more beef and it was very tender.

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I tried the new Moroccan place, Casablanca Couscous and Grill, on Richmond where Miguelito’s Venezuelan used to be, across from Pete’s Fine Meats. I’ve been watching for it to open but it slipped out of my mind and the next thing I know, it’s being reviewed in the Chron. It’s a low priced alternative to Saffron; the menu is small and not very helpful as far as explaining the offerings. There are I think 4 couscous, a similar number of tagines and some grilled offerings, a salad, a sandwich, a couple of desserts, tea and coffee and sodas.

Casablanca - Chicken Tagine 002.jpg

I went for the Chicken Tagine with golden raisins and onions. There are no sides on the menu and this comes just with some warmed up I think store-bought pita wedges. This was very good but like Alison Cook in the Chron, I was wanting a side of something to break up the monotony. Still, it was a very reasonable price. Cook wrote pretty much a rave review and local noted food explorer Jay Francis has also weighed-in, saying this is already on his list of 10 places to take visitors to Houston to show off our diverse dining scene. I wasn’t anywhere near as taken with it as the two of them but they’ve both sampled several dishes and this is the only time I’ve been. I’m thinking it would be a good idea to always go with someone so you could share dishes and get a little variety in the meal.

They have no website, no menus to go, not even business cards yet. While I was having my meal the cook/owner was outside working on the landscaping; he is apparently also the only person who can operate the cash register. This is a real pull-yourself-up-by-your-own-bootstraps place but the food is very promising.

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