I was in Houston at the beginning of April and never got around to a write-up, but better late than never, right ?
TACOS A GO-GO
Armed with a coupon offering ten tacos for ten bucks, we visited Tacos A Go-Go twice.
The first visit was to the Main Street branch in Midtown for lunch where we had Fish, Carne Guisada, Pork Guisada, Beef Fajita and Picadillo Tacos. All perfectly pleasant, if unspectacular, although their smoky red salsa was memorable.
The second visit a few days later was a breakfast stop at their Heights location, where we ordered various egg-and-two-item tacos. Now, as has been correctly pointed out in a previous thread, I'm from the UK and know jack about tacos. In fact, this was only my third ever experience of breakfast tacos. But we both thought that these were superb. Much, much better than the breakfast tacos we ate at El Rey Taqueria on our previous visit. Unsurprisingly, the breakfast tacos at Tacos A Go-Go are served all day. They must be their most popular menu item.
THE ROYAL OAK
Awarded "Best Bar Food" by the Houston Press last year, so we thought we'd check it out during their happy hour.
It's a nicely done out, comfy bar with lots of dark leather and wood panelling.
Stuffed Jalapenos with Spiced Cream Cheese and Bacon had too much cream cheese and neither enough spice nor enough bacon. They really needed something - a bit of acidity, maybe - to cut through the cloying richness of the cheese.
The Blue Cheese and Mushroom burger was perfectly acceptable. Ordered and served medium rare, it was clearly made from decent beef and served in a tasty bun. A minor complaint - it was one of those patties that looked more like a squashed meatball than a burger and the meat didn't come anywhere near the sides of the bun.
The Parmesan Truffle Fries we subbed with the burger were spectacular. Perfectly cooked hand-cut fries smothered with parmesan and herbs and a hefty slather of truffle oil.
I'd return just for a bowl of those fries, especially as the happy hour prices were very reasonable - two bucks for domestic bottles and four bucks for a martini.
OLDE TOWNE KOLACHES
Arrived at a bar at 5.30 a.m. on Saturday hoping to catch a live Scottish soccer match and waited for an hour before realizing that they weren't going to open. Oh well, I thought, I'll cheer myself up with a bag of kolaches. Olde Towne Kolaches is in a strip just off Westheimer near the beltway.
The place was deserted and they only had three kolaches ready - sausage, jalapeno sausage and cheese, and cheese and bacon.
They were all pretty awful. Cheap, nasty sausages. A tiny smear of cheese and about three tiny chunks of bacon. The dough wasn't up to much either. Avoid.
A visit for lunch. I'm not sure I understand the praise this place gets. This was our second visit and again, everything was just average. And at the prices they're charging, it should all be better than average.
Ordered Chicken Fried Chicken Livers and Fried Boudin Balls from the happy hour menu. You could tell the livers were going to be overcooked just by looking at the overly browned and too-crispy batter. The boudin balls were fine, I guess - nice and meaty - but two barely-over-an-inch balls for five bucks ? One of them had split apart in the fryer which didn't help.
The Gulf Shrimp Nachos were acceptable enough, but at over a dollar apiece they too were overpriced.
I'll give them this - their cocktails, especially their Bloody Marys with celery-infused tomato juice and wasabi, are excellent. And I had a delicious pint of 512 Porter from their decent beer selection. Next time, drinks only.
SPANKY CRAWFISH AND BAR
Drove around for fifteen minutes trying to find this place on Bissonet, only to find it was closed permanently. Strangely, they'd left all the TVs on. So, back to the hotel with a takeaway from the nearby ...
... on Hwy 6. I'm more of a Chicago-style pizza than a New York-style pizza kind of guy, but this was rather good. Thin, floppy and greasy (in a good way). A decent amount of good toppings.
THE CONCERT PUB
On Richmond. Stopped in for a Sunday lunchtime crawfish fix. It had been a few years since my previous visit but the mudbugs were as good as I remembered. They were a decent size and obviously boiled in spiced water, as evidenced by the lemon wedges and bay leaves scattered around the serving tray. My OH doesn't particularly care for crawfish ("too much work") but she managed to put away well over a pound. Buy four pounds and get one free, so they worked out at less than $5 per pound.
Word of warning - a loud and dismal band started playing when we were halfway through eating. If you're going, get there early.
... on Hwy 6. They serve their crawfish with five levels of heat and on my previous visit, I'd been talked out of the New Orleans Spicy by the barmaid. "If it's too hot for you, you can't return them". Well, I can now report that they are in fact very, very spicy. I polished off two pounds and the sweat was dripping from my forehead. They come in a plastic bag with a full bowlful of thin sauce at the bottom, which I mostly finished off with a spoon. The spiciness isn't all just hot sauce and chili, though - there's a good amount of cumin, garlic and butter in there. Very good indeed.
The crawfish themselves weren't as good as the Concert Pub's - a bit smaller and slightly overcooked. I'd return in an instant for that sauce, though.
Note to James Cristinian - you might want to stop reading at this point. They were a "criminally insane" $6.99 per pound.
The OH had a bowl of Crawfish Bisque, served with a mound of white rice. Tasty enough, but I'll stick to the boiled ones, ta.
Popped in for their Monday happy hour at the bar, with half price gulf oysters. Excellent oysters and a bargain at only $5.50 per dozen. A fellow diner was making his way through a few pounds of crawfish which looked very good too.
On a Monday the place is understandably very popular. By the time we left at 6.15 there was a queue of a dozen people waiting for a table.
The newish location on White Oak in the Heights. Our first visit to this establishment, to check out their legendary burgers.
What can I say that hasn't already been said about them ? This is quite possibly the finest burger I've ever had. Ordered medium rare and delivered on the medium side, which didn't matter in the slightest as it was still beautifully juicy and tender, served in a bun which managed to be soft yet resilient enough to support the contents all the way through eating. Perfectly judged swipes of mayo and mustard and just the right amount of tomato and crisp lettuce.
We tried both the Bacon Bacon Burger (with bacon in the burger mix and further bacon on the bun) and the standard Cheeseburger with American cheese. Both were excellent, but the basic cheeseburger was particularly outstanding.
Bonus points for some great fries and onion rings, and Monday evening $1.50 domestic pints to wash it all down.
That was the all-too-brief trip just about over and it was off to an IAH hotel for the night. With some time to kill before the late afternoon flight back to London, we headed for Pappadeaux in Terminal E and split three Maryland-style Crabcakes and a Wedge Salad. For an airport restaurant, the quality was very high indeed. Lots of chunky crabmeat in perfectly crisped cakes.
Roll on September and our next visit to your fine city. No crawfish this time, I suppose.