6905 Bissonnet, just west of Beechnut
UPDATE 3/25/0 - UNFORTUNATELY THIS ONE IS CLOSED, NOW A MARIO'S PIZZA. THEY DID GREAT TORTAS AND I WILL ALWAYS MISS THE TORTA HUERFANO. I'LL HAVE TO CHECK OUT SOME OF THE TACO TRUCKS AROUND TOWN BY THE SAME NAME.
I've noticed this taqueria for a long time and I wondered if they had Mexico City style tamales like those at Tamales Dona Tere. I finally decided to give it a try and when I pulled up to the door I saw a hand lettered sign that they now serve tamales. I guess I put my visit off just long enough.
The place is small; there was only one waitress and she was also watching over her small daughter but she was very friendly and helpful, apologizing that the menu is only in Spanish. I assured her I thought we would be able to manage; she spoke pretty good English and I speak a little Spanish.
I ordered a pork tamale and asked about the suadero taco - I was not familiar with that term. She said it was a pork meat taco; they also have pastor, chorizo, campechano, bisteck, cabeza and chuleta tacos. Besides tacos and tamales they have Quesadillas, Gringas, Sincronizadas, Tortas, Desayunos and some guisados.
The taco proved to be very small. It's been a long time since I had a Mexico City style taco and had forgotten that sometimes that means the tortillas are only about 4" in diameter. It wasn't very tasty; I thought if it was pork it was perhaps roasted sirloin and dry. I looked this up online and according to what I found, suadero is supposed to indicate a section of beef brisket.
The tamale proved to be much better. It was no where near as big as those at Dona Tere, a little dry for my taste (I like very moist tamales) and very spicy. Usually when you think of the term 'hot tamales' you're referring to the fact they're served steaming hot but these had a lot of spice heat, too. It was so good I ordered one of the chicken tamales which was not quite as spicy and not quite as good but still very enjoyable. Surprisingly the green salsa that was offered was quite bland and quite limey.
While waiting for my food I had picked up a copy of the menu to go and was perusing it and a torta that wasn't on the printed menu caught my eye, Torta Huerfana, which apparently translates as Orphan Torta. I asked the waitress about it and she explained it was a huge torta and reeled off a list of ingredients that I couldn't possibly remember (there were not only no translations but also no descriptions of the dishes on the menus). She said only one person had ever finished it, most wind up taking half home. It was $9, kind of pricy for a torta, but it sounded very interesting so I decided I had to come back to try it and a couple of days later I did.
It was a different waitress on my second visit and she spoke little English but she was also looking after a small child, a nino of about 6 whom she called over several times to help translate as I plowed ahead asking questions.
The Torta Huerfano proved an awesome sandwich. As best I can figure it out it includes ham, refritos, milanesa, avocado, tomato, yellow and white cheese (per the first waitress; I think they were American and Jack), chorizo, huevos and salchicha which I thought was a generic term for sausage but has always meant a wiener when I found it on a menu in Houston, all served on a nicely toasted and crusty telera. Both the red and green salsas that were served with the sandwich were very good.
There's no way I would have tried to finish that so I took about half home.
I haven't been able to find out much about the sandwich online and an effort to find out if they created it in-house didn't communicate well. A sign on the wall invites customers to try their 'nuevo creacion torta huerfana en Taqueria DF' but I don't know if it's a local creation of has Mexico City roots.
Whether it's a Houston original or not it's very tasty and I'll be back though obviously not often for that sandwich.
There's another location of the Taqueria at 8685 Hammerly and I've also seen taco trucks labeled Taqueria DF on Long Point and Telephone but I don't know if they're connected to the restaurants or serve the Huerfana.
ADDED: Dissecting the leftovers (and tossing the soggy bread) I discovered there's chicken breast in there too. I'm sure the waitress on my first visit listed chorizo but it was hard to identify any by taste or inspection.