Honduras in Houston

A too-small dining scene gets a welcome addition.

The flavor of the pear squash isn't all that intrinsically tasty, but it's an important and reliable crop in Central America, so people have found creative ways to use them — hence dishes like chancletas. Battered and stuffed with cheese, anything becomes tasty, and the chayote was no exception. What the pear squash brought to the dish on its own was a pleasantly crisp, snappy texture that prevented the dish from being too saturated and heavy. And, as an aside, it's awfully nice to find a vegetable-based main dish at a restaurant that isn't just rice and beans — all the better for vegetarians to be able to enjoy an evening out, as well.

One of the things that sets Honduran cuisine apart from its Central American neighbors like Nicaragua and El Salvador is its extensive use of tropical fruits and coconut milk. Both of these are present in one of the country's most popular and iconic dishes: sopa de caracol. Caracol means "conch" in English, and the meaty, slightly tough chunks in the soup are the white flesh of the snail that inhabits the beautifully curled and fluted, pinky-rose conch shells that wash up on the beach. But don't let the fact that conch is a giant sea snail turn you off; the sopa de caracol is by far Honduras Mayan's best dish.

Mixing with the conch pieces in the coconut broth are thick slices of cassava, carrot, bell pepper, onion and sweet plantain, with plenty of bright-green, herbal cilantro perking up the soup. Taken with the coconut milk, it tastes strikingly similar to a Thai curry, sans any heat. It's at once sweet and slightly briny, tasting of both the sea and the earth. The serving at Honduras Mayan is large enough to split between two people, but you'll likely find yourself greedily slurping it all down yourself.

The camarones Maya, baleadas, anafres and Salva Vida will be decimated quickly.
Troy Fields
The camarones Maya, baleadas, anafres and Salva Vida will be decimated quickly.

Location Info


Honduras Mayan Cafe and Bar

5945 Bellaire Blvd., B
Houston, TX 77081

Category: Restaurant > Honduran

Region: Outer Loop - SW


Hours: 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.

Baleadas: $1.75

Camarones Maya: $13.50

Chancletas: $7.99

Lomito de res: $13.99

Sopa de caracol: $12.00

Desayuno Maya: $6.00

Desayuno especial: $3.99

Coffee: $1.75

Honduras Maya Cafe & Bar

5945 Bellaire Blvd., Suite B, 713-668-5002.

On a return visit, I shared my second bowl of sopa de caracol with my dining companion who'd just flown in from California.

"We don't have anything like this out in Santa Barbara," she sighed over spoonful after spoonful of the rich, silky broth and bites of starchy-sweet plantain. Our dishes had reversed places at this point, my bowl now in front of her and her comal of lomito de res in front of me.

The thin slices of ribeye had been seasoned and grilled almost exactly like fajitas, sitting on a bed of green bell peppers and onions, but — once again — were elevated to a different level by the presence of a garlicky chimichurri sauce, thinner than its South American counterpart but spicier, and those same tortillas de maiz that had appeared on the table with the camarones Mayan. Those tortillas, thick and fluffy and endlessly toothsome, like naan bread, could make even the most meager meal a stunning feast.

To finish with breakfast may seem odd, but the meal is the largest and most important of the day in Honduras. At Honduras Mayan, you can either start or finish your day with a massive traditional meal: Breakfast is served all day long here.

A typical Honduran breakfast — called a desayuno Maya here — comes with refried black beans, avocado, crema, salty cheese, fried eggs (called "unscrambled" here) and — my favorite part — fried slices of plantain. A less expensive version, the desayuno especial, comes with bacon instead of plantains and a hearty mound of rice cooked with leftover black beans alongside your eggs and avocado. Along with a cup of dark, strong coffee, it will prepare you for a long day ahead, or simply serve as a relaxing way to start the weekend.

Eating our traditional breakfasts one recent Saturday morning before heading down to Galveston for the day, my dining companion and I found ourselves amid a community of people catching up and sharing news from back home. The owner stopped by to check on us as if we were her own daughters, and we felt a part of the catrachos — Honduran neighbors, family and friends — gathered here.

Whether or not you're a catracho, you can enjoy a rich, filling breakfast and a sense of belonging at Honduras Mayan. Even if it's just over fried eggs and plantains.

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