8338 Southwest Freeway @ Gessner
As the fervor of my enchilada quest intensifies I’ve been recalling meals eaten years ago, going through menus collected over the years, and I remembered the Enchiladas estilo Altamirano I had at this place. It’s a neighborhood taqueria I’ve been to many times (and posted about very early on the blog). Like the Jeffersons, I’ve moved on up, or so I thought!
Looking over the menu I have from this place I noted the Enchiladas Estilo Tierre Caliente; there was no explanation of what was involved other than that the plate included rice and beans and I couldn’t find any discussion online of what enchiladas Tierre Caliente style might mean so I went to find out for myself.
When last I was there I had noted the business card identified the business as offering authentic Mexican and Honduran cuisine but the menu was still the same one it had always been - all Mexican. They have now installed a new menu with some Honduran specialties included - Baleadas, Bandeja Altamirano, Frescos Hondurenos - and gone are the Tierre Caliente enchiladas.
The other enchiladas on the menu sounded too much like Tex-Mex from the descriptions so I went instead for the Pollo Frito, one of the Platillos Hondurenos.
When it first was presented my thought was there had been some mistake, but no, there were two pieces of fried chicken underneath that Central American curtido. Not only that, they were pretty good. I was afraid they would be soggy but they weren’t owing partly to the fact the drumstick and thigh were not battered (I think not even coated with flour) and so couldn’t soak up much moisture. The leg piece was a bit overcooked but very tasty. The thigh, which I got to second, was a little soggy due to the skin itself but otherwise a very fine piece of fried chicken.
My Chicken Fried Odyssey began after I got a spectacularly good piece of fried chicken at a taqueria in Baytown over a year ago. Since then, I’ve never been able to equal that experience, either by returning to the same place or at any other taqueria or Central American restaurant, and had given up. At last! The meal was a very pleasant surprise, and reasonably priced at just $7.
The curtido was very good - shredded cabbage, slightly wilted, with diced tomatoes and red onions, smaller dice plus strips of jalapeno and nopalitos and cilantro, topped with a warm tomato/ranchero sauce. Basically you get your cole slaw on top of the fried chicken here. Underneath it all were banana chips - slivers of banana only slightly sauteed, not crisped or caramelized. The sweetness of the bananas was a nice complement to the spiciness of the curtido and the saltiness of the chicken. Some of the leftover curtido was even better the next day as the flavors came together a little more and the cabbage lost a little more of it's edge.
The table salsa was served steaming hot from a crock pot and was basically a ranchero sauce. The restaurant was busier than I’ve ever seen it and the sole waitress was kept very busy but was always very pleasant and accommodating.
I’ll gladly go back and have this again. I’ve been trying taquerias all over town thinking I’d find better ones elsewhere but I am once again impressed with this one.