Monday, August 31, 2009

La Casa del Cabrito

7802 Gulf Fwy @ Dover, one block north of Park Place

The sign says 'en estilo Monterrey' and Monterrey is supposedly the cabrito capital of the world but despite that and the name of the restaurant, there appeared to be only one cabrito dish on the menu ($23.95 for one, the most expensive dish). That was more than I like to spend for lunch so I tried the Fajitas Potosinas, very, very tender beef strips with nopales, onions, jalapenos, cheese and tomatoes. The corn tortillas were as thin as crepes and the fajitas essentially en salsa so too messy to try to make tacos, but they were very good, as was the rice and frijoles. There was a small amount of guacamole and pico de gallo which was the hottest thing since the table salsas were pretty mild.

The waitress had confirmed there was only one cabrito dish but looking over the to-go menu later I found the Torta K'Brona, a torta with cabrito, jamon, chicharron y salchicha. Wish I'd noticed that so I could have had a taste of their cabrito but I will be back sometime in the evening or on the weekend to try it.

It's a pretty extensive menu, a little pricier than your usual taqueria. Another item which sounded interesting was Huachinango a la Plancha.

There is a bar and a stage for bands, karaoke and comedy acts; they're open for breakfast and according to the menu all night on weekends, closed Monday.

Monday, August 24, 2009

One Year After Ike

The Chronicle has been publishing a series of articles updating the condition of Galveston Bay one year after the devastation of Ike and a couple of them should be of particular interest to readers of this blog and lovers of oysters and shrimp, etc.

One deals more with the effects of the storm on the ecosystem.

Another deals more with the effects of the storm on the fishery's businesses.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Tacos Plaza Garibali, DF

A taco trailer, W. Airport at Chimney Rock

I posted about Taqueria El Taco Regio a few months back in Quick Bites II, one of the better taco trailers I have encountered, parked at the intersection of W. Airport and Chimney Rock. Not long after that post I noticed this new, smaller trailer move in across W. Airport. I thought perhaps they were hoping to pick up some spill-over business from El Regio, which did a very good business. I was interested to see they not only persevered, they did a very good business themselves; in fact, several times there’s been a crowd at Garibaldi and no one at El Regio so I had to give them a try myself.

On my first visit I went for three tacos, cesina, fajita and pastor. These are small, Mexico City style tacos (4" tortillas) for $1 a piece; as at El Regio, you have the option of lettuce and tomato or onion and cilantro.

The wait was very lengthy although there was only one customer in line ahead of me. I stood back under the shade of a tree in a neighboring yard and couldn’t see anything of what was going on inside the tiny trailer. I got rather frustrated by the wait in the blistering heat but took heart from the regular sound of a spatula slapping against the grill - hopeful that meant my order was being prepared fresh instead of slapped together from ingredients in a warming pan. When I finally got my order I was very pleased.

The cesina, on the left, was undoubtedly the tastiest cesina taco I’ve encountered, juicy and with good beef flavor. The fajita taco, something I seldom order, was likewise very good. The quality of both meats was better than average. I could have wished for a bit more onion and cilantro (and hot sauce) but I was too pleased by the flavors to complain much. I was trying to decide whether I liked the cesina or fajita better but a taste of the al pastor put the question to rest - it was wonderfully flavorful, tender and juicy, quite possibly the best al pastor I’ve ever had, surpassing even the exemplary tacos at Jarro Café on N. Gessner. One of the pleasant surprises was the very flavorful, still slightly chilled bits of pineapple, tasting fresh rather than canned. Sometimes you can barely detect the flavor of pineapple on an al pastor taco and most of the time when pineapple is visible, the bits are quite small, but these were a generous size.

I knew right away I had to go back to try more from this little trailer.

They’re open for breakfast from 6 to 11 according to the sign on the side of the trailer although there is no separate breakfast menu listed. I remembered they offered a couple of platillos and on my second visit I tried the Platillo Alambres, D.F.

I’ve never had anything alambres before so can’t compare this to other dishes by that name but I was very pleased with this. It may look like just a big mess but it was very good. As best I could determine the plate included ham, cesina, salchicha, chorizo, queso, and onion. There was good caramelization of the meats but they were not overdone and dried out; there was a good balance of ingredients and I particularly appreciated that the onions were still crisp/tender, not completely wilted. It was very oily, however. This came with 8 small corn tortillas that were scorchingly hot and I suppose you could, or perhaps are supposed to, make tacos. The refritos were only so-so but I didn’t care.

While waiting for the platillo I had a good look at a Cubano Torta and it looked great, so on a third visit in less than a week, I was determined to try a torta at Garibaldi. The last Cubano I had tried had been a big disappointment so I decided to go for the Capitalina at the last minute. I’ve never had a Torta Capitalina before, although I’ve seen them on menus, and couldn’t remember exactly what it was. I had a vague idea it was something with cold cuts and lettuce and tomato, which sounded good on another brutally hot day, sort of a Mexican hoagie, but I was way off.

Nonetheless it was very good, another one of those over-stuffed Tortas that I have come to love. The Capitalina is a typical sandwich of Mexico City I think although the ingredients may vary. As best I could determine this one included cesina (thin beef steak), suadero (beef brisket), jamon (ham), chuleta (pork chop), salchicha (wiener), refritos, queso (a mild, yellowish melting cheese, possibly Jack), mayonesa and tomate on a toasted seasame seed telera roll. All the meats were in bite-sized pieces. It was pretty tasty but I'll probably try a different one next time. It was only $4 for the whole sandwich which measured 7" x 5.5" x 2.5".

Quick Bites IV

Pico’s Bakery, 5710A Bellaire, in the same center with Sabor and the former Alebrije


I should probably write a full review of Pico’s but it’s already been covered by so many other bloggers and the newspapers that I feel I’d just be redundant. It’s a big treat though and if you’re familiar with Pico’s Mex-Mex down the street you should give this place a try.

I wasn’t that impressed with the Torta de Pierna I tried on my first visit (the fixings were kind of skimpy and the roll too large) but everything else I’ve had here has been excellent. One of my favorite things is the Chilorio Foot Long burrito; at only $2.25 their foot long burritos are a bargain. I’d never had Chilorio at the restaurant before and I’m kicking myself for that. I’ve also tried the Crazy Bill’s Breakfast taco. It’s an oversized tortilla and the sign says ‘don’t ask’ what’s in it but I believe it had eggs, cheese, tomato, potato, salchicha, chorizo, and a nice level of heat. If it had only had bacon it would have been perfect.

The baked goods are awesome, even better than El Bolillo I think, and I particularly appreciate that they’re labeled in the display cases. The Tres Leches is very good; moister and more dairy flavor than I believe I’ve ever had in a Tres Leches and they don’t rely on a surfeit of sugary icing for the appeal which resides in the cake itself.

I’ve also tried the tamales, $4.95 for a half dozen, chicken or pork; they’ve just recently added larger, banana-leaf wrapped tamales, also, for $1.95 each.

They serve Katz coffee and carry a small selection of Katz beans. The cookies are also excellent.

Pico's Bakery

Neveria La Michoacana, 2840 Broadway, just south of 610

I happened across this place on a blisteringly hot day and went in for some refreshment. It’s a very new place in a new strip center. It looks a lot like it might be a franchise outlet but they didn’t even have printed business cards or menus, much less a website.

They had about 2 dozen flavors of ice cream. I sampled several before settling on Nuez y Cajeta which they translated as Butter Pecan with Caramel. It didn’t have as much butter fat or pecans as Hank’s famous Butter Pecan and was very, very sweet but was good. They also have paletas and fruit cups.

Although they didn’t have a printed menu I did pick up a flyer that lists Nachos, Frito Pie, Elotes, Raspas, Cocktel de Frutas and Chicharron Preparados.

I was like a kid in an ice cream parlor (duh) and didn’t think to ask whether they make their own ice cream or not.

Pupuceria Ramirez, S. Post Oak, just north of W. Orem

I’ve seen this Salvadoran trailer many times in my trips to the south side and it’s usually doing a good business; I finally got around to stopping by recently. I had other plans for lunch so I just got one pupusa revuelta. It was done to a beautiful golden color on both sides and had more ‘crust’ than any pupusa I’ve ever had before, but the meat and cheese were minced and didn’t have a lot of flavor. The curtido was excellent, coarsely shredded cabbage the way I like it, very, very vinegary and with a surprising heat level. This was probably the spiciest curtido I’ve ever had at a Salvadoran place and the red sauce, which often times seems to be taken right out of a can of tomato sauce and unadulterated, likewise had some heat and a little chili flavoring. The menu on the side of the wagon was small and had several items I’d never seen before. I’ll probably stop back in to try more.

A note: Tacos Don Beto DF which I posted about in Quick Bites II has apparently moved on but there are a couple of new vendors along S. Post Oak, both named Sabrosos Tacos de Mexico DF. One is a truck park just a few doors from where Don Beto was located, in front of Variedades Sinai, a place which advertises pupusas, and a trailer parked at a Shell station about a quarter mile south of S. Main on S. Post Oak. I’ve discovered there is a commissary not far from the intersection of S. Post Oak and W. Orem where mobile food vendors go to restock and clean, etc. This may account for what seems a large number of mobile food vendors in the immediate vicinity, including dueling pollo asado wagons at the intersection of S. Post Oak and W. Orem, a pollo rostizado bus down near the Beltway, and at least one bbq truck. There used to be another Salvadoran trailer, also.

Tacos Garcia, a trailer on Bissonnet across from Sharpstown High School


Howard Rushing has posted about this place (and other finds on the SW side) on this thread on Roguefood and recently sent me some pictures, too.

Howard says he likes the cabbage included on the tacos along with the onions and cilantro. I haven’t tried this yet but it looks good to me.

I appreciate Howard sharing his finds with me. He takes some very good pictures.