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Staying for Supper

Natachee's on Main has finally come into its own.

 Natachee's doors were wide open to our photographer this past week. See the slideshow here.

"You need a punch in the mouth," the sign greeted me as I walked into Natachee's Supper 'n Punch one evening. Sly little touches abound in the restaurant — this one a reference to the alcoholic punches that Natachee's whips up behind its bar — that's full of tongue-in-cheek playfulness and equally sassy waitresses. And although it struggled a bit when it first opened back in October, Natachee's has finally come into its own.

Menu items like the pork 'n cheezy burger (that's Natachee-talk for a bacon cheeseburger) and a solidly constructed chicken fried steak with homestyle mashed potatoes and red-eye gravy are making the restaurant one of the strongest anchors in this new development along Main Street in Midtown. Popularly known as the "Best Block in Houston," this stretch of Main kisses the Ensemble/HCC stop along the light rail and hosts popular live-music venues The Continental Club, Big Top and the Mink. Natachee's is in good company, neighbor-wise, with t'afia just around the corner and Tacos a Go-Go a few yards away, but it wisely doesn't try to compete with either restaurant.

Local country classic: open-faced meat loaf sandwich.
Troy Fields
Local country classic: open-faced meat loaf sandwich.

Location Info

Map

Natachee's Supper 'n Punch

3622 Main St.
Houston, TX 77002

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Downtown/ Midtown

Details

10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Mondays, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays, 10 a.m to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays.

Fried pickles: $3.59

Guacamole: $4.59

Pork 'n cheezy burger: $7.99

Open-faced meat loaf sandwich: $7.99

Natachee's skillet lickers: $7.99

Sweet potato pie: $3.50

Sucker punch: $5

Natachee's Supper 'n Punch

3622 Main, 713-524-7203.

The menu is classic Texas all the way, with short diversions into the rest of the South for items like pulled pork sandwiches and sliders. It's at its best when serving up local country classics like an open-faced meat loaf sandwich.

"People love or hate the sauce," our waitress, Cyndi, informed me one evening. "It's kind of spicy." I told her to bring it on, and was glad that I did.

The meat loaf here benefits strongly from that chunky, peppery sauce, almost an Italian-style ragout. It's not that the meat loaf itself is dry — it's not — but the sauce itself is so good, with a hint of sweetness coming through, the spice never overwhelming the acidic tomato base. It's hard to believe there are people who hate it.

And on top of the sandwich, without even requesting it, was a fried egg encased in an onion ring. I never would have ordered the meat loaf sandwich this way normally (I would have preferred to taste it unspoiled by additional gimmicky toppings), but ended up raving about the combination for days: bright yellow yolk oozing into the spicy sauce, all of it absorbed by the soft meat loaf underneath.

The meat here originally suffered from a distinct lack of seasoning. My first burger at Natachee's back in November was so bland that I nearly emptied an entire bottle of Crystal hot sauce on top in a vain effort to prop it up. The restaurant seems to have overcome this handicap, as the meat loaf and successive burgers, sliders and slabs of chicken-fried steak have all been expertly seasoned.
_____________________

"You were really hard on this place when it first opened," said my friend Bill Shirley with a half-smile one recent Friday evening. We were there for the monthly Geek Gathering, where 90.1 KPFT's Technology Bytes hosts its listeners in an informal setting, usually a coffee shop. This month found us packed into a hopping-busy Natachee's, where Sean Reefer was warming up on the steel guitar and folks were slowly trickling out onto the enormous patio despite the cold weather.

"You're right, I was," I admitted to Bill.

"This wood," he said, pointing to the beams that formed the structure of Natachee's bar area, "was salvaged from an old house in the Heights that was being torn down." I suddenly felt terrible, knowing where Bill was going with this. In my "First Look" at the restaurant on the Press food blog, I wrote that it felt like a cross between a general store and the Country Bear Jamboree theater at Disney World. Now that the restaurant has settled into itself and has begun serving peppy, sassy food to match its theme, that description seems very uncharitable.

I told Bill that night that Natachee's had really grown on me since then, and it has.

I love the vibe it brings to this section of Main Street, from the raucous energy at night to the blowsy, laid-back feeling during the day, when businessmen from downtown mingle with the rockabilly kids who are hard at work constructing a salon/tattoo shop on the same block. Everyone is welcome here.

That vibe is only encouraged by the fabulous waitresses, from the bright and sparkling Cyndi to the talkative, friendly Larraine behind the bar. It's rare to find a restaurant with waitstaff so dedicated to making each customer feel at home.

Home-style food like your Southern mother would make doesn't hurt, either.

"I can't get enough of this gravy," my friend gushed over lunch one day. The notoriously picky gal, a pastry chef by trade, was delighted by the creamy gravy and its thick chunks of pan sausage. On top of the skin-in mashed potatoes that accompanied her chicken-fried steak, it was a one-two punch of perfection. The meat in the CFS was — like all of Natachee's meat — very well seasoned, but we were sad to see the batter underseasoned, soggy and pulling away from the steak as if it were being shed like a snakeskin.

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12 comments
JJ
JJ

Had terrible experience the night before this review came out. Two waitresses were not covering all the tables well, disappeared for long amounts of time. Beer wasn't cold enough. After ordering, it took amost 15 minutes for the appetizer to come out. It was queso and it was cold, actually cold... Sent it back and it returned only lukewarm. It was nicely spiced, but... Chips were too thick, certainly in the bottom 25% of chips served in this town. The CFS was on the small side and overcooked. The batter separated from the meat. Gravy was decent, but only lukewarm. The mashed potatoes had too much milk in them, not enough stiffness. A place like this should serve cornbread with the CFS. My daughter's drink did not come. My daughter's dessert with the kids meal did not come. My son's burger was mediocre, nothing special. Macaroni and cheese was as good as the 29 cent boxed one from Kraft. Very, very disappointed because the place has charm.

Grocerylist
Grocerylist

The food looks/sounds good but the times I've walked by I know I wouldn't last 10 minutes on the large patio/park with all the obnoxious kids running amuck. If I ever go here I'll have to get it to go. ATTN: Parents with screaming kids - Leave the kids at home with a sitter!

Calvinuh
Calvinuh

We go every Thursday and will only sit at Cyndi's table...she is the BEST and SOOOO much fun!!! She adds extra flavor to the atmosphere...but they do need to change the Thursday talent....change it up a lil!!!!

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Daveb
Daveb

Peppy and sassy? A good CFS, fried pickles and happy punches won't save this place. Parking is a pain in the ass, especially when competing with the Continental Club.

OK
OK

It's good to see a type of food which Houston has so many of (though not always in the lowest crime neighborhoods) on Main St. Dude from Austin, sometimes you gotta leave where the white people live to find good food - which is impossible to do in austin i know.

Albert Nurick
Albert Nurick

I've been wanting to find a place like this ever since I moved here from Austin in 2000. Looking forward to checking 'em out.

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

I experienced that same batter separation issue in the CFS. I hope they can get it fixed soon, and add more staff -- when Natachee's get swamped/busy, it can get ugly.

Chris
Chris

Clearly there is a sandbox. Therefore they are catering to kids. So clearly, parents don't need a sitter. Get a grip! This isn't a fine dining restaurant.

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

I'm sorry to hear that. None of the times I've been have there been kids running amok. Then again, there is a sandbox outside and some really nice weather lately, so... Caveat dine-tor, I guess.

Calvinuh
Calvinuh

Where have you been parking...never have had a problem...

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

I never found parking to be an issue. There's a gigantic lot next door to Natachee's. I believe it's $2 at night, but I parked on the street nearly every time I've gone.

 
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