No Tex-Mex!

Otilia's eschews the goopy for the good, authentic Mexican-style

Trust me on this: it's worth it to work around the cafe's schedule. After all, Irma's loyalists are already accustomed to this sort of thing. The rewards at Otilia's range from the simplest taco al pastor -- irreproachable bits of browned, tender pork sharpened by cilantro and raw onion -- to a hard-to-do chile relleno that could take a blue ribbon at anybody's state fair. A light, lively tomato sauce and a straightforward, potato-laced picadillo do their part. But the key is the thin froth of egg-white batter that sheathes each dignified poblano pepper: spongy and graceful, it avoids the horrible, greasy soddenness to which rellenos often fall prey.

Actually, avoiding pitfalls seems to be a specialty of the house. I find myself in the unaccustomed (and pleasant) position of having nothing to warn against. Paler-then-pale lemonade, unassuming and not too sweet, seems the ideal summer drink. Tacos de cochinita pibil come in a surprisingly convincing version, from their tender, spicily marinated pork to their irresistible pickled onions. Footlong flautas come rolled with fluffy potatoes, buried under a mountain of crunchy iceberg, decorated with slender fans of avocado and dusted with a veritable snow field of crumbled queso fresco. It's a striking plate of food. To go with it, you will want a side order of the cafe's good, basic guacamole; some of that astonishing green sauce; or a healthy hit of Otilia's lively, limey pico de gallo. Maybe all three. Indeed, customizing your meal with Otilia's various mix-ins and add-ons is half the fun. It beats going hog-wild at the Marble Slab.

A couple of visits here has left me anxious for more. There are gorditas stuffed with poblano-and-onion rajas to consider, and tostadas topped with pickled pork skin. There's breakfast. There's mole on the weekend. There is, in short, every reason to plot a course to this close-in sector of Long Point, just a short hop north of I-10 between Wirt and Antoine. If you can find Ikea, you can find Otilia's. And you ought to.

Location Info



7710 Long Point
Houston, TX 77055

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: Outer Loop - NW

Otilia's, 7710 Long Point, 681-7203.

huaraches, $1.75;
pozole, $5.50;
chile relleno, $6.95;
tacos Potosinas, $5.50.

Empire Cafe:
large granita, $3.50.

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