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Jim Guidry Commentaries
Good Eating in Houston
by Jim Guidry
Monday, July 07, 2014

Houston offers a very wide variety of food in numerous restaurants in diverse neighborhoods.  I've  enjoyed dining at some of them for more than 40 years, but this essay will begin with notes I've taken since Lynda and I decided to move our home and office to Houston in 2009.

In fact, it was on Christmas Day in 2008 that we first ate at Chapultepec Lupita, a small Tex-Mex restaurant at 813 Richmond Avenue.  We were in town scoping out possible neighborhoods for our move and, frankly, the choice of dining spots was limited because it was Christmas Day and most restaurants were closed for the family holiday.

The restaurant has booths and tables, a friendly wait staff, excellent chips and salsa on the table; and a menu featuring tacos, enchiladas, chalupas and breakfast burritos, as well as traditional full breakfast options served all day (6am to midnight) and other Tex-Mex dishes. Christmas breakfast at Chapultepec Lupita has become a fun tradition for us since we settled in Midtown.

Of course, the mother of Tex-Mex, the Original Ninfas at 2704 Navigation Boulevard has been setting the standard since the early 1970s; and continues the tradition today.  Menu

Lynda had never been to the original Ninfa’s so we stopped in for margaritas and lunch soon after we completed the move to Houston.  The place was exactly as I remembered it when Ninfa was alive.  I understand that members of her family, who now operate their own restaurants, still eat there from time to time; and I know why.

In addition to the food, I must compliment the wait staff at Ninfa’s.  I asked the waiter about an order of tamales to go and he advised against it, referring us instead to Alamo Tamale and Taco nearby at 2310 Navigation Boulevard.  There, handmade tamales – beef, pork or chicken – are available for $10 per dozen.  Machine made tamales are priced lower, but we have not strayed from the handmade.  Red and green hot sauce is available as well.  

We occasionally stop at Ninfa’s for a margarita and snack, but we frequently visit Alamo for tamales to go.

There are other Mexican restaurants to talk about, as well as Cajun, Italian, Greek, Mediterranean, Indian and dozens of other ethnic choices; including great seafood and barbecue.  There are several that we visit frequently, but we feel obliged to try new places.

On a recent Saturday, we stopped for the first time for an early lunch at Punk’s Simple Southern Food at 5212 Morningside near Rice Village.

Valet parking is offered, but we found an open spot at a meter just around the corner.

There’s a long bar down one side of the room and outside seating as well.

We were shown to a table immediately and placed our order from a menu offering “classic southern dishes derived from deep family roots with a simplistic and chef-driven approach”.  The entrees were appealing, but promised a larger meal than I needed that early in the day.  And they were a bit pricey for lunch, I thought.

I enjoyed what I had, "Crawdads from the Biscuit Bar", which was Crawfish Étouffée over a biscuit.  It was reasonably priced at $6 and was very tasty; a perfect light lunch.

Lynda had the Waldorf Chicken Salad Sandwich on a brioche bun.  It was served on a platter with a deviled egg, homemade pickle garnish and bag of potato chips.  She thought the $10 price was quite fair and would order it again.

The rustic urban themed décor was pleasant, a little cramped.  The background music was nice and the wait staff and other employees were competent and seemed to enjoy serving the public. 

I’m glad we stopped in.

We will publish more of our dining adventures from time to time.




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