Devouring Houston: Exploring Houston One Bite at a time

Houston has so many incredible food establishments...from sumptuously designed restaurants to fun storefronts selling gourmet cookies. From Mexican Food Carts to the Best BBQ in the World. And...I want to expore it one bite at a time.

Sunday, February 27, 2011


While my heart belongs to The Chocolate Bar, I would be remiss if I did not mention Candylicious.  This close sister (in proximity and mission) is another heaven for those who like to devour the sweet pleasures of life.  While the focus is not necessarily chocolate (although they do carry chocolate items, too), it is other candies such as gummy bears, Pez candies, jelly beans, candy cigarettes (remember those!), and giant lollipops that take center stage.  And, this is mentioning but just a few tantalizing options.

Inside Candylicious, you really do feel like a kid in a candy store -- no matter your age.  You wander the store looking for that perfect treat...more wandering produces frustrating and confusing questions -- the more wandering you do, the more the choices confuse you!  What options do I narrow my purchase down to?  I want the color M&Ms, and the giant Tootsie Roll,  and the Hello Kitty candy, and the Skybar, and the 3 pound bag of Gummy Bears, and the princess Pez dispenser....  And, so it goes.  A trip to Candylicious is a fun trip down memory lane and destination for sweet treats!

1837 West Alabama     OR   2515 University Boulevard
Houston, Texas 77098           Houston, Texas 77005
713-529-6500                       713-874-1988

The Chocolate Bar

Every Hour IS Happy Hour at The Chocolate Bar.  That is their motto: "Where Every Hour is Happy Hour."  I could not agree more.  Heaven = Chocolate. Is there anything grander, more fulfilling, more satisfying, more decadent than an entire store/dessert bar dedicated to Chocolate?  Nope.

Upon entering The Chocolate Bar, you see walls of chocolate essentials (why, yes they are essentials).  Items like Chocolate pizza, chocolate bricks, and....hello...Texas Frito Brittle, tantalize my chocolate fantasies. 

The Chocolate Bar Confections

But, that's not all.  Oh no!  The Chocolate Bar offers many chocolate ice creams.  Yes, creaming frozen chocolate confections designed to be savored with a spoon.  And, then....and then....there are the cakes, the cookies, and the cheesecakes.  Chocolate = Heaven.

Many Chocolate Cakes at The Chocolate Bar

With choices like those...where to begin?  What to sample?  I MADE myself -- contained myself -- stopping at 3 decadent, delicious, dangerous desserts. 

First, the Junkyard Cake.  Scrumptious.  Ahhhhhh....SEVEN different chocolate bars are folded into Bavarian Cream.  I mean, did I say Scrumptious!  The seven corners of heaven include:  Butterfingers, Kit Kat, Twix, Baby Ruth, Nestle's Crunch, Milky Way, and Mars.  Very sweet filling in a semi-sweet, moist chocolate crust.  A nice contrast between the super sweet and the semi sweet.  A little of this cake goes a long way -- so it is excellent to share -- or save for later (if you can resist digging in again 5 minutes later). 

Junkyard Cake

Next up: The Toll House Pie.  I go into this tasting with a bias....I LOVE chocolate chip cookies.  And, did you know the Chocolate Chip Cookie was invented in Massachusetts at the Toll House Inn, why of course.   Anyway, I love me some good old Toll House Pie.  And, this one did NOT disappoint.  A cookie made into a pie.  BRILLIANT.   It was moist.  Not too sweet.  Oooey.  Gooey.  Melty Chocolate (served warm with chocolate sauce and chocolate chips).  Velvety.  The pie filling coated my mouth with the delicious, luscious goodness.  

Toll House Pie
Rounding out my Chocolate Trifecta...Aunt Etta's Cake.   What a perfect simple chocolate cake.  No bells.  No whistles.  Nothing that got in the way of enjoying this rich, decadent, delectable, delightful, pleasurable chocolate cake.   This confection is not overly-sweet, but yet still very rich.  Layers upon layers of chocolate cake with creamy, chocolate-y frosting.  This simple dessert really can satisfy your most intense chocolate craving.  Simplistic perfection.

Aunt Etta's Cake

Well, needless to say, I have indeed been to The Chocolate Bar before, and I will definitely be going back.  It is one of my favorite places.  As a matter of fact, I send visitors to Houston there.  It is a fabulous spot in our fantastic city.  Every hour truly is Happy Hour at The Chocolate Bar.

The Chocolate Bar
(two locations)
1835 W. Alabama (the original)     OR   2521 University Boulevard
Houston, Texas 77098                           Houston, Texas 77005
713-520-8599                                       713-520-8888

Moon Tower Inn

To set the tone:  Moon Tower Inn's website address is ""  Any questions?  Already off to a great start!  From the descriptions I had read, I was expecting a little more Harley Davidson, but instead got a lot more Grateful Dead.  The eatery looks like it was transplanted from South Austin -- but conveniently located on the East Side of OUR Downtown. 

Moon Tower Inn

Super cool fun atmosphere.  The entire place is outside -- order at the outdoor counter.  There are tables outside under a cover and a large grassy area with picnic tables, fire pit, and horseshoe pits.

Moon Tower Inn

Moon Tower Inn serves sodas, bottled water, and beer.  All beer is from the micro brew genre.  I ordered a Blond Bombshell (as I am fairly much a wuss and it was their lightest).  And....loved it.  Perfect compliment to the gorgeous day and outside venue.  It was on tap, but one of my dining partners ordered an IPA bottle.  Note perfect koozie.

Perfect Koozie

Moon Tower Inn serves hot dogs, and only hot dogs (well, and potato chips).  And, really, they are not hot dogs at all, but sausages.  Very unique sausages -- you won't find any beef here.   All hot dogs are served on a pretzel bun.  Fairly soft, but hearty and thick enough to stand up to these really big sausages.  While the buns didn't necessarily taste like a soft pretzel, I thought they were very yummy!  Also, Moon Tower Inn offered 4 different condiments -- 2 mustards (honey and spicy), a mayo, and black pepper ketchup.  We went with the ketchup and it was super tasty.  As it states - it was ketchup with black pepper, and very peppery -- but a really nice balance of the two.   All dogs $6.

First up, "Piggie Smalls" -- Wild boar with cranberry.  I did not taste the cranberry, but the dog was really delicious.  Closest to traditional sausage.  Crunchy outside.  Plump.  Good pork flavor. 

Piggie Smalls

Next, the "Talilamb" -- Lamb sausage/hot dog with Mideast spice.  It was the juiciest of our 3 choices.   Finally, we had the "Ghettobird" - pheasant with cognac.  This one was the lightest of the three. 

Ghettobird and Talilamb

In summary, cool, fun, very casual, laid back, friendly spot.  Only open late afternoon to late night (not lunch).  Credit cards accepted.   I plan to go back, sip on a Blond Bombshell and nibble on a Piggie Smalls.

Moon Tower Inn
3004 Canal Street
Houston, Texas 77002

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Little Miss Cupcake

Little Miss Cupcake won the 2010 My Table Houston Culinary Award for Favorite Food Truck.  Little Miss Cupcake, aka, Emily Giffin, is ordinary parked in Galveston at the Seawall and 33rd Street.  I have been waiting for my path to take me right to Little Miss Cupcake...and today it did!

Owner Emily Giffin is the sweetest (no pun intended) person around.  Helpful, energetic, happy, smiley...all the things you'd hope for and expect in a cupcake baker.  The cupcake truck is cute and pink. I was super excited about finally tasting her confections....

Little Miss Cupcake

Little Miss Cupcake has four regular flavors and also offers weekly specials.  Today she was, sadly, out of the Lemon with Creamcheese icing.  But, I did sample each of the four regular flavors.  Her cupcakes are $2.50 each.  

First up, the Berry Bomb (strawberry cake with cream cheese frosting).  The cake was very moist (usually hard to find in a commercial cupcake).   Little pieces of strawberry in the batter.  The cake reminded me of, well, a  Betty Crocker/Duncan Hines box mix.  Wait, before you get all crazy, I happen to really like box mixes -- they are consistent, never disappoint, and are always moist.  And, this was a moist cupcake.   The cream cheese icing was not particularly sweet -- making it a nice contrast to the sweet strawberry cake.  The icing was a little thin, and I would have liked more frosting piped on top of the pretty pink confection.

Berry Bomb

Next up, the Beach Bum (butter cake with chocolate frosting).  Again, very moist cake.  Again, reminded me of BC or DH.  The chocolate frosting had nice flavor and consistency.  Not too sweet, but definitely a milk chocolate frosting.  Again, I wanted more frosting so the ratio of icing to cake was on more equal footing.  This cupcake was like an old fashioned diner cake.  It was also my overall favorite cupcake.

Beach Bum

Thirdly, Chocolate Ocean.  Triple chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting.  Excellent, delicious, dense, chocolatey cake.  Moist.  Yummy.  Same cream cheese icing as the first cupcake sampled.  This cake was my favorite cake that I sampled today.  I bet the cupcake is really good with chocolate frosting!

Chocolate Ocean

Beached Blonde

My parting thoughts are this: Little Miss Cupcake has a good deal for $2.50 a cupcake.  I do think that she is a little heavy on offering cream cheese icings -- where is a good, simple buttercream?   

Also, I don't think these cupcakes are particularly gourmet, but they are really cute -- and moist! -- and are so fun and perfect for picking up while strolling along the beach.  I also think she'd be a truly fun addition to a party -- a cupcake truck!  Seriously!   Plus, Emily is really nice and will deliver to Houston for as small of an order as one dozen cupcakes.  I love supporting small business -- and cupcakes.  Totally worth tracking her down when you are in Galveston next.

Little Miss Cupcake
Currently at the Seawall and 33rd Street
Galveston, Texas
Check her out on Facebook:!/pages/Little-Miss-Cupcake/269786130747

Gorditas Mexico - Galveston

Gorditas Mexico Restaurant in Galveston is right along the Seawall with a great view of the ocean.  Whether you opt to sit inside or on their patio, the water is right there, almost in touching distance.  Super, great, relaxing!  The service was friendly.  Our waitress was pleasant and helpful.

The atmosphere is fairly authentic for a heavy tourist area of Galveston.  Spanish language TV and music on the juke box.  And, the prices were very reasonable.   The food, however, was a little less thrilling.  We started with some chili con queso ($3.99) which had decent flavor, but was very, very thin.  I like my queso thicker and velvety.  This was runny and watery.  It's hard to get a good scoop of cheese on a chip if the queso just slides off!  I also found the queso greasy due to the beef -- and there wasn't much beef inside the serving of queso anyway.  Bummer.

Chili con Queso with meat

We also ordered margaritas ($3.95) (we were offered only one margarita option -- no margarita menu and they only serve them on the rocks) .  The margarita, too, was weak and watery.  No zing.  Nothing refreshing about it.  No true lime flavor.  The margaritas left us flat.  Bored.  Disappointed.


The Nachos con Carne ($7.99) were okay-ish.  We ordered ours with chicken fajita...and they arrived with beef fajita meat.  Ooopsss.  We didn't make a fuss and ate them anyway.  The meat was very tender and had good flavor.  The nachos also came with a generous amount of the beef and guacamole.  The nachos were nothing stellar, but acceptable with plenty of melted cheese and refried beans.

Nachos con Carne

The Tex Mex Cheese Enchiladas ($7.99) were the cheesiest cheese enchiladas ever.  And, really, can one say anything but great things about super melty cheesy enchiladas?  The refried beans were also yummy with a true bean flavor.  Not alot of substitutions or fillers -- great, true refried beans.  The rice was not as flavorful, but light and fluffy nonetheless.

Tex Mex Cheese Enchiladas

Finally, the Tacos al Carbon (Chicken) ($7.99).  They left me, well, a tad sad that I had ordered them.  Although the chicken was tender;  it lacked flavor.  It lacked seasoning of any kind.  The pico de gallo was fresh and spicy, and clearly a BIG help to the taco; however, I still felt that the dish was missing something important.   I just felt cheated.  Which is about how I would describe the restaurant in general. 

Tacos al Carbon - Chicken

While nothing was inherently bad about Gorditas Mexico, nothing was particularly amazing either.  In general, the dishes lacked pizazz, seasoning, zip, and flavor.  We felt disappointed and short changed that our meal wasn't a step higher.  And despite the fact that the prices were reasonable and the staff friendly, I just don't think I need to return to this eatery.  I'll keep searching for that certain Zing.

Gordtias Mexico
712 Seawall Boulevard
Galveston, Texas 77550

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Burger Shack

If you know me, in addition to loving cupcaked and chocolate, you know my next favorite thing is a good cheeseburger.  I had heard that The Burger Shack in West Houston made a mean burger.  And, that means....a mandatory trip.

The Burger Shack is a no frills burger eatery.  It is not so much a shack, but a simple burger dive. Patties are homemade and the fries and onion rings are hand cut as well.  I had high expectations for this burger mecca.

The Burger Shack

A dining companion ordered the Chili Cheese Dawg.  Okay, not so much a burger, but a delectable choice nonetheless.  It was a plump, juicy, beefy dog, surrounded by fairly good beefy chili and ooey, gooey, melty cheese.  The bun was fairly soft (but hard to cut with a fork).  The dish was good.  We paired it with their beer battered onion rings.  The rings were tender, fresh.  Thin strips of fried onions.  (Chili Cheese Dog - $3.75.  Onion Rings - $2.60).  Good start.

Chili Cheese Dawg with Beer Battered Onion Rings

Next up, the Spicy Southwest Cheeseburger ($5.75).  The burger had tons of flavor, but was a little over cooked, leaving it dry.  It wasn't so much spicy either -- more like a burger with some jalapenos thrown on it.  We paired the burger with a side of the seasoned curly fries ($2.60) -- which I think were voted our favorite item of the meal.  They were crispy on the outside, soft inside with a great seasoning coating them.

Spicy Southwest Burger and Seasoned Curly Fries

Finally, our table sampled the Shack Salad with Grilled Chicken ($4.50 salad + $2.99 for chicken).  Shredded iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, banana peppers, bacon, and sliced onion.  The chicken was a little dry and the veggies weren't super fresh.  Although, I did love the addition of the banana peppers.  The salad was pre-made.  I guess it was fine for a "burger joint," but I did expect a tad more.

Shack Salad with Grilled Chicken

The Burger Shack
14741 Memorial Drive
Houston, Texas 77079


We have a new cupcake cafe in town.   A new addition to City Centre.  And, if you know me, you know that cupcakes = me!  So, off I went....

Sweet is a cute cupcake cafe.  The weather on Saturday was beautiful and the bakery had its doors open on two sides of the cafe.  The sunshine was gorgeous and the cool breezes made the bakery super inviting.  A chalk board menu and tiers of cupcakes welcome customers.  It's appropriately cute for sure!


Tables outside allowed us to soak up the weather and dive into the yummy looking confections.  We tried several:  Chocolate with chocolate icing, Vanilla with vanilla icing, Peanut Butter, S'more, and their whoopie pie. (all cupcakes: $3.35, whoopie pie: $2.00)

S'more and Vanilla with Vanilla Buttercream

I think the biggest hurdlee cupcake bakers have is mastering the moist cake.  Too many cupcakes simply contain a dry cake.  And, I'm super sad to say that Sweet makes the same mistake.  The frostings were delicious -- creamy, good sweetness - buttery ratio.   Yummy buttercreams.

Peanut Butter Cupcake

Our favorite was the Peanut Butter, which actually had the moistest cake.  Great peanut butter flavor batter.  Icing was a heavenly piped ooey, gooey, yummy peanut butter.  Hello Divinity!  Second favorite was the S'more -- thin graham cracker crust at the bottom, chocolate cake cupcake, topped miles high with marshmallow fluff, dipped in melted chocolate.  This.  Was. Good.  Rich.  Very satisfying.

S'more Cupcake

Most disappointing was the Whoopie Pie.  The outside was a very dry red velvet cake with vanilla buttercream inside.  I loved the concept.  But, it just didn't work for us.

Whoopie Pie

Sweet has only been open a week to date and I well know kitchens need time to sort things out.  So, I'm really hoping Sweet can master the moistness.  I loved the location of Sweet.  The staff was extremely friendly, helpful, and nice.  I loved the creativity of the Peanut Butter and S'more cupcakes.  I'll have to go back in a few weeks and try them again.  I know, I know, any excuse to go eat cupcakes.....

Chocolate with Chocolate Buttercream

801 Town & Country Boulevard (in City Centre, near Yardhouse)
Houston, Texas 777024
713-64.SWEET (79338)


Paulie's is a neighborhood restaurant/cafe in Montrose that is casual (order at the counter) and friendly.  Their menu ranges from soups and sandwiches to pizza, ossobucco, and roasted salmon.  But, today I am focusing on their cookies -- and I tried their bread pudding!

I've ordered Paulie's Shortbread cookies over the years for fun, special occasions ($3.00 each).  They have never disappointed me.  The cookies are soft and tender.  Buttery.  Excellent shortbread.  Thick enough to sink my teeth into and feel satisfied, but not too thick as to be tough and dense.  The icing is subtle, adding an additional flavor and texture, but not distracting from the actual cookie.  Plus, Paulie's does a great job decorating.  I tried a Valentine cookie, while I was there to pick my own special order.

Valentine Shortbread Cookie

My special order:  Mallard Ducks -- and they didn't disappoint.  I'm not sure Paulie's had done Mallards before I special ordered them, but they were precious.  And, of course, tasted just as delicious as always, and as expected.

Mallard Duck Shortbread Cookie

I also tried their Panini Bread Pudding with Amaretto Syrup ($4.25).  It was moist and warm, not mushy.  The Amaretto flavored syrup (not a thicker sauce) was delicious with amaretto prominent, but not over the top strong.  A good amount of cinnamon was present within the bread pudding -- a good ratio of the spice to the dessert.  The bread pudding was satisfying and substantial.  My only complaints were that I wanted more of the soft raisins in the bread, along with another dose of the syrup.  That syrup was delicious and really made the dessert, of course, as is typical with bread pudding.  I need more amaretto!

Panini Bread Pudding with Amaretto Syrup

I recommend Paulie's particularly for their shortbread cookies.  But, while you are there, make sure you have some lunch/dinner or other treat.  The staff is always friendly and helpful.  The cafe is just a nice, casual, happy place. 

1834 Westheimer
Houston, Texas 77098

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Kiran's Restaurant and Bar

I really like Indian food, but I must admit I'm pretty much a novice on the subject.  The various dishes and terms are most foreign to me.  But, I do know that I like me some Indian flavors!  So....I went to Kiran's today.

Dining Room at Kiran's

I started with the Mushroom Samosas ($8).  A samosa was described to me as an Indian Empanada (which, is a much more familiar term to this native Texans girl).  Empanadas? Sort of.  But  we all agreed these fried stuffed pastries were really good.  I mean, truly delicious.  I wish I had had a platter full of these puppies!  Along with the chopped wild mushrooms, the samosas included melted goat cheese and pieces of sundried tomatoes.  There was a hint of spice to these little guys.  And the samosas were served with a side of fig chutney, the most perfect accompaniment.  Magnificent.

Mushroom Samosas with Fig Chutney

I ordered the Tandoori Chicken for my entree (chicken, yogurt and spices cooked in a clay oven) ($18).  My chicken was fantastic -- very moist and tender.  A really nice smoked-type of flavor.   The dish was served with Apricot Biryani (aka rice), Dal Makhani (type of thick, chunky gravy made of lentils and beans), Naan (oven baked flat bread), and perfectly cooked crisp-tender vegetables.  Also, on the side, a mango chutney. All superb.  All delicious.  The Biryani was moist and flavorful.  The Dal Makhani was great for dipping my Naan.  And, that mango chutney was a tad sweet with a touch of heat.

Tandoori Chicken

While not an expert on Indian Food, great experiences like this one today make me anxious to learn more about the Indian food tradition and historical flavors.  Kiran's was an excellent experience.  While the service started out strong, it did peter out somewhat during our visit.  However, our server was funny and friendly, and extremely knowledgeable.  I am looking forward to going back!

Kiran's Restaurant and Bar
4100 Westheimer
Houston, Texas 77027

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Philippe Restaurant & Lounge

I was super excited about trying the new Philippe in the BLVD place on Post Oak Boulevard.  (Almost next door to RDG).  The buzz surrounding Philippe has been big, so off I went....

Let me ruin the ending...yes, I liked it.  I think it has huge potential.  While not perfect, pretty darn close. 

I loved the entrance.  The eatery is two story (like RDG).  But, the downstairs area (the bar) is extremely inviting.  Walking up the stairs seems to be a narrative in itself, nice carpeting, a landing, stone wall with candles.  You first set your sights on the private room...then the host stand.  Then the upstairs bar with white marble counter.... Very inviting.

Philippe Lounge (downstairs)

The decor is minimal.  Neutral colors.  Yet, many textures.  The ceiling in the main dining area is a cross between clouds and really soft bedding.  I loved it! (Not sure that the picture below really does it justice).  The eatery is high energy, relevant, and hip, yet comforting and relaxing.  I really liked the vibe.  The service was friendly and knowledgeable.  The menu was full of fun, tantalizing choices.  I had a really hard time deciding between pizza, salads, sandwiches, mussels and fries, and lobster ravioli.  

Main Dining Room (with cool ceiling)

So, I ordered the Hot Press sandwich with chicken, gouda, and whole wheat bread ($15).  The bread was very toasty, but I would not call it "pressed."  The grilled chicken slices were substantial and hearty...also very tender and moist.  The gouda was gooey, but I wanted more of it.  I also wanted a condiment - a garlic aioli, a pesto mayo, a dijon mustard.  Something.  But, it was still good, just could have been better.  It came with the choice of fries or side salad.  I opted for the side salad, which comprised of very fresh field greens with yummy, zippy, refreshing citrus vinaigrette. 

Hot Press with Chicken and Gouda

My dining companion ordered the All-Natural Chicken with honey-rosemary glaze, couscous and garlic confit pan gravy ($17).   The couscous was light and airy and had nice flavor.  The gravy was flavorful.  The chicken was extremely moist and tender.  The vegetables on the side (carrots, squash, and potatoes) were a little too tender -- no crispness, but their flavor was still good.  The chicken dish was very good, but needed a kick of something.

All-Natural Chicken

No dessert this time.  But, I'm going back for that...and some wine.  The dessert menu had more tantalizing and tempting choices.  From Crispy meringue with pistachio ice cream and grapefruit ($7) to Butterscotch Parfait with chocolate shortbread and dulce de leche ($7).  See....VERY tempting indeed.  Anyone up for dessert?

Philippe Restaurant & Lounge
1800 Post Oak Boulevard
Houston, Texas 77056


Cinq is the revamped restaurant at the Houston boutique hotel La Colombe d'Or.   La Colombe d'Or is the former home of W.W. Fondren, Sr., founder of Humble Oil and Refining Co., now known as that little company called, ExxonMobile.  The historic little hotel off of Montrose Boulevard includes five guest rooms, which is where the restaurant found its name - Cinq.

Cinq is Romantic.  Classy.  Quiet.  Beautiful.  Simple.  Elegant.  Old wooden floors.  White table cloths.  Orchids on each table.  Little open salt bowls with little spoons -- love those!  We went for lunch and the dining room was relatively empty.  Is dinner a busier time?  Knowing the kitchen couldn't be all that busy with a mere 2 tables, the service was extremely slow, yet professional and courteous. 


The new Cinq boasts a chef who, among his culinary accomplishments, worked recently at the Mansion on Turtle Creek.  I had high expectations for the European inspired menu.  However, nothing really tantalized my desires.  I wasn't particularly drawn to anything.  I did start with the soup of the day, a celery-fennel soup ($8).  It was indeed beautiful and tasty.  Subtle flavors, elegant dish.  Cream based.  Wait, cream based doesn't do this rich, thick dish was oozing cream and butter.  Very delicious.  Infused oils on top, including a roasted red pepper.  The perfectly toasted crouton was a great crunchy contrast to the creamy soup. 

Celery-Fennel Soup

We ordered the Japanese Soy Marinated Steak Salad ($17).  Field Greens, tomatoes, green onions, wasabi roasted peas, bean sprouts, ginger, and horseradish.  This dish was most disappointing.  While the steak had a nice favorful marinade to it upon first tasting, the flavor immediately disappeared.  The marinade did not soak through the meat.  Furthermore, the steak was extremely tough.  It was so disappointing!  Also, the salad was too heavy on bean sprouts.  And, where were those wasabi peas, the ginger, the horseradish?  We could not detect any of those great, prominent flavors. 

Japanese Soy Marinated Steak Salad

We also tried the special of Filet Rouget Cannes ($22).   It was nicely plated with a delicious, light cream sauce with tomatoes and small shrimp.   However, the fish was a little over-cooked.  Otherwise, a pleasant dish. 

Filet Rouget Cannes

We were under-whelmed with our visit to Cinq.  And, disappointed at that.  We had high expectations and high hopes.  While the restaurant is beautiful, the food and service just did not live up to our anticipation.  I'm not sure I can recommend this place.  We didn't even order dessert.  It was a sad day. 

La Colombe d'Or
3410 Montrose Boulevard
Houston, Texas 77006

Monday, February 7, 2011

Ninfa's on Navigation

I'm embarrassed.  After growing up in Houston, I have to admit that I had never been to the original Ninfa's on Navigation before.  I blame my parents for this, of course.   I'm not sure how a Native Houstonian can get away with this kind of behavior.  Clearly, I had to make amends.  I finally tried Ninfa's.  Well, what did I think?  Were my expectations too high?  Was the original Tex-Mex eatery everything I had hoped?   A little of both, actually.

I loved the Old School Tex-Mex Charm -- open kitchen and freshly baking tortillas right inside the front door.  The Mexican Tiles on the wall and Saltillo Tile on the floor.  The wait staff in Mexican dresses and shirts.  The no frills and low lighting.  All of this does make the perfect, authentic Tex-Mex place.  It reminded me of the Molina's I grew up with on Westheimer (before they moved to the Old Boston Sea Party Restaurant location -- and totally lost the authentic charm, if you ask me).  I digress.

For starters, The Navigation Margarita ($9:50) - Espolon Blanco Tequila, fresh squeezed lime juice, agave nectar, and Cointreau - was delicious.  Again, Classic.  Fresh.  Cold.  The tangy lime juice and cointreau is a perfect pairing - and contrast -- to the salt.  A good margarita.

The Navigation Margarita

Queso.  Ahhhhh....My Love.  Again, I love that Classic, Old School-ness of what Ninfa's serves up.  Their Chili con Queso ($7.95) was smooth, velvety.  The cheesiness coated my mouth with melted goodness.  Heavy on the melted cheese, light on the peppers.  No spice at all (contrary to their menu description as "spicy cheese").  Fine with me -- this Queso is the way Queso was invented.  Ninfa's serves their melted cheese with fried flour chips - instead of corn.  Very different.  I prefer corn, however.  The flour ones reminded me of layers of thin fried pastry  Interesting.  Corn wins.

Chili con Queso

Next up, Tortilla Soup.  Their tortilla soup was different.  I couldn't determine if it was broth or cream based.  I think broth with their jalapeno crema combined.  It was a thinner soup, with corn, bacon, cheese, shredded chicken and tortillas strips.  I tasted a sweetness in the soup, but our sever swore there was no cinnamon or sweet spice or condiment in it.  Maybe the sweetness from the bacon and corn? Seemed more than that, though.  Lots of kernels of corn making way for big corn flavor.  Fresh, ripe, yummy avocado on top.  I am a tortilla soup freak.  And, while this was really good soup, by far not the best I have had. 

Tortilla Soup

The Nachos - with fajita chicken ($8.95 + $3.95 for chicken) -were fine.  The refried beans and melted cheddar were layered on top of the chips, of course.  But, Ninfa's uses the flour tortilla chips here as well.   We all agreed that corn chips are a better nacho base.  The chicken was a hunk of chicken.  They were fine.

Nachos with Chicken Fajita

For our Enchilada Dish -- we went with the Antiguas Enchiladas ($10.95) -- Cheese and Ranchera Sauce with rice and beans.  More old school goodness.  The Ranchera sauce was a little heavy on the tomato flavor -- but very good.  Classic.  And, the rice was very moist. 

Antiguas Enchiladas

Finally, The Fajitas.  I mean, Mama Ninfa Laurenzo brought THE Fajita to the masses ($17.95 for 1/2 pound).  We had to try it.  We were not disappointed.  This is the real deal.  The meat - real skirt steak - had great grilled flavor.

Beef Fajitas

So, in summary, how was  my experience you ask?  Well, very good.  I did feel rushed -- a churn in and out kind of place.  I felt the food was Classic, Old School - as Tex-Mex should be.  I was not disappointed.  However, I don't know that would not make a special trip there just for Mexican.  There are many other super great Tex-Mex eateries in Houston.  We are so lucky to live here!

Ninfa's on Navigation
2704 Navigation
Houston, Texas 77003