Tacos from an east Houston truck make the list of best things we ate in September (2023)

Tacos from an east Houston truck make the list of best things we ate in September (1)

Alison Cook,Bao Ong,Greg Morago,John-Henry Perera,Jody Schmal


Each month, the Houston Chronicle food team dines out...well, we won't put a number on it, but let's just say we make a lot of restaurant visits between the five of us full-time staffers. Especially right now, as we prepare our annual Top 100 Houston Restaurants guide, which comes out this fall.

Here are a few of the best dishes we've had in the month of September; we think they're all worth seeking out.

Baby greens with bagna cauda and tiny fried fish at Roots Wine Bar

Tacos from an east Houston truck make the list of best things we ate in September (2)

There is salad, and then there is the wild umami ride that is baby greens dressed in anchovy-tinged bagna cauda dressing at Roots Wine Bar. Chef Andre Garza rocked my world with this dish, which highlights the way Asian touches light up his eclectic Gulf Coast menu. It’s deep and complex yet refreshing, with an oceanic thrum that seems to make each bite more exciting than the last.

The teeny-tiny fish involved function as sort of super-croutons, fragile crisps woven with shreds of Parmesan, pops of chili crisp and sunflower seeds. Caramelized cherry tomatoes, radish batons and minuscule sprouts lurk in the nest, too. The capper? Ask the talented sommelier Garrett Lim to recommend a suitable wine from the serve-yourself bottle wall. Salad and wine … the next frontier.

3107 Leeland, 713-818-2079; rootshtx.com

Alison Cook

Caribbean Mussels at Davis St. at Hermann Park

Tacos from an east Houston truck make the list of best things we ate in September (3)

Singling out a favorite dish from a memorable dinner at chef Mark Holley's elegant, Southern-with-a-twist restaurant was not easy. But these mussels — especially their broth — were what my dining companion and I returned to, again and again.

The bouncy specimens are piled into an otherworldly coconutty-curry pool, then topped with charred pineapple and garlic. Two rafts of grilled country toast rest alongside, crucial components for sopping up every drop of the slow-burn-spicy broth. In fact, once we polished off that bread, we began using the superlative soft benne seed Parker House rollswe'd ordered earlier. Those came with poblano pimento cheese and a creamy, smoked drum dip, but the mussel broth reigned.

(Video) Who Makes The Best Fast Food Sub? Taste Test

5925 Almeda, Suite A, 877-328-4778; davisstreet.com

Jody Schmal

Tacos at Taqueria Luna (pictured above)

As a new Houstonian, I’m just beginning to scratch the surface of the city’s taco scene.

I let out a sigh of triumphant relief when my colleague, the Chronicle’s restaurant critic Alison Cook, also raved about the heirloom corn used to make the tortillas at Tatemó. A crisp fish taco at Hugo Ortega’s Urbe stood out as one of the best Houston Restaurant Weeks dishes I ordered. Brothers in EaDo kicked off my hunt for the best breakfast tacos in town.

Taqueria Luna, which is parked outside of the Azteca Farmers Market every day, doesn’t use fancy, farm-to-table ingredients or have a big-name chef behind it. Still, the bar has been set very high, and I won’t forget my first Houston taco truck visit anytime soon.

There are about 10 different meat fillings on the menu here, but it’s impossible to single out the best. The pastor arrived with a smoky char that tasted like it had been slow cooked all day. The tender tripe was like biting into a sponge that had been soaked in aromatic stew. It all reminded me of the many street tacos I’ve eaten across Mexico — the best type of tacos, really.

7703 Lyons, 832-310-5000; instagram.com/taquerialuna_

Bao Ong

Claypot cod with Brussels sprouts at Moon Rabbit

Tacos from an east Houston truck make the list of best things we ate in September (4)

So deeply and dreamily caramelized is the claypot-cooked cod at this Heights Vietnamese newcomer, that I couldn’t stop eating it once I was full. I had a hard time believing it, because normally I shy away from sweet dishes that aren’t desserts. Here was the exception that proved the rule: the fish done only to a fat, satiny flake; the sticky salty-sweet caramel balanced out with fresh red chiles and pleasantly bitter roasted Brussels sprouts that were a touch of genius.

(Video) Tucker Carlson: The US is about to run out of diesel fuel

This dish is traditionally done with catfish at restaurants around town, but the sturdier, smoother cod really showed off the sauce and sprouts to finer effect. And while I loved everything else I ate at Moon Rabbit — the clever banh xeo shrimp tostada; the salt and pepper squid in an electric green seafood sauce — it was the cod I kept remembering later. Hats off to co-chefs Tam Nguyen and Rudy Vasquez.

605 W. 19th, 713-684-3991; moonrabbithtx.com

Alison Cook

Combination dinner at El Patio

Tacos from an east Houston truck make the list of best things we ate in September (5)

A group text among friends for an overdue get-together went out. But where should we go? When El Patio was suggested, there was immediate, enthusiastic agreement; we were off to one of Houston’s favorite, long-running Tex-Mex restaurants.

Dinner in the Club No Minors room began with assorted appetizers including tableside guacamole served with warm, crunchy chicharrones. I still don’t understand the attraction to the classic Felix queso that El Patio inherited and sells by the ton. But the appeal of the Deluxe combo featuring the totems of the Tex-Mex repertoire was undeniable: A heavenly tamale, a hot and crispy beef taco, and a perfect cheese enchilada with chili gravy and chopped onions, served with rice, beans, and guacamole. There was a Felix queso tostada puff too, but it made sense in this grand congregation of Tex-Mex perfection. Yes, we had the famous blue marg. No, it didn’t erase the mind. Everything about El Patio was deliciously memorable.

6444 Westheimer, 713-780-0410; elpatio.com

Greg Morago

Garlic Chive Pancakes at Street to Kitchen

Tacos from an east Houston truck make the list of best things we ate in September (6)

Street to Kitchen is a Houston character on its own: a Thai restaurant in a gas station connected to a washateria. It’s a place where you can find a Range Rover and other high-end cars parked in a neighborhood with a median household income of $36,000. And it’s a place where you can see Houston’s range of diversity (less so the range of the neighborhood it inhabits, which is 92.2 percent Hispanic).

The garlic-chive pancakes are absolutely fantastic. The rice flour used here takes on a slew of textures when fried, from a crispy outside to its gelatinous innards. The sweet soy accompaniment is a welcome boost.

(Video) Doja Cat - Get Into It (Yuh) (Official Video)

6501 Harrisburg, 281-501-3435; streettokitchen.com

John-Henry Perera

Guava pastry at Urbe

Tacos from an east Houston truck make the list of best things we ate in September (7)

During Saturday and Sunday brunch only, the Ortega family’s newest spot offers next-generation Mexican pastries that are worth a trip in and of themselves. I went home with a boxful of pastry chef Ruben Ortega’s takes on the classics, from a finely wrought, vanilla-sugared concha to a laminated swirl holding shiny red guava paste.

Not just any guava paste, either. This version was alive with tart notes beneath the sweet, and it jumped with the characteristic funky edge that I prize about guava. Now I’m determined to return to sample the whole house-baked lineup. They used to offer the pastries every day during breakfast service, and my fond hope is that demand will swell enough that they’ll be able to do that again.

1101 Uptown Park, Suite 12, 713-726-8273; urbehouston.com

Alison Cook

Oysters at 5Kinokawa

Tacos from an east Houston truck make the list of best things we ate in September (8)

5Kinokawa’s omakase highlights a parade of memorable dishes, many featuring fish flown in from Toyosu Market in Tokyo, but it was the first course that I found most surprising: a single farmed East Coast oyster.

I’ve eaten many Gulf oysters that are meaty and lacking in that briny, just-plucked-from-the-sea taste (they’re superior when roasted or grilled with butter or any number of accouterments).

This Rhode Island oyster — kissed with just a dash of bright yuzu, sake and mirin — reminded me of cold ocean water hitting your face. It was an idyllic kickoff to a summer night filled with seafood.

(Video) The Temptations Papa Was A Rolling Stone 1972 Single Version

3119 White Oak, 832-823-3848; 5kinokawa.com

Bao Ong


1. Stevie Nicks - Stop Draggin' My Heart Around (Official Video) [HD]
(Stevie Nicks)
2. 10 BEST Things to Do in Texas
3. Tacos For Sale! 🌮 'Taco The Town' In 5 Minutes! | The Casagrandes
(The Loud House)
4. "Weird Al" Yankovic - Eat It
5. 10 BEST Things To Do In Houston | What To Do In Houston
6. The Rick & Bubba Show - LIVE - Oct. 28, 2022
(Rick & Bubba)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Stevie Stamm

Last Updated: 02/04/2023

Views: 6661

Rating: 5 / 5 (60 voted)

Reviews: 91% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Stevie Stamm

Birthday: 1996-06-22

Address: Apt. 419 4200 Sipes Estate, East Delmerview, WY 05617

Phone: +342332224300

Job: Future Advertising Analyst

Hobby: Leather crafting, Puzzles, Leather crafting, scrapbook, Urban exploration, Cabaret, Skateboarding

Introduction: My name is Stevie Stamm, I am a colorful, sparkling, splendid, vast, open, hilarious, tender person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.