Top

dining

Stories

 

Totally Rad

It's almost beside the point that the food at this new restaurant is all-vegan.

Luckily, our entrées were much better. Radical Eats offers an inexpensive lunch menu, with items ranging from $5 to $7. The $6 and $7 items come with a side of rice and beans, both of which need a pinch of salt but come to life under the restaurant's housemade salsa fresca with big, nose-clearing handfuls of white onion and cilantro among the minced tomatoes. Jody had ordered a mushroom enchilada and I'd gotten a spinach quesadilla — both standard offerings at many Mexican restaurants.

And this is really why Radical Eats succeeds: Davis was smart to choose a cuisine that's inherently amenable to both vegan and gluten-free diets. Mexican food is traditionally based on rice, corn, beans and vegetables, so you don't have to alter much about a typical meal. Guacamole? Automatically vegan, automatically gluten-free. And the list goes on. The rice here is brown rice, though, fat little pearls that have the look and nutty pop of barley; the beans are refried, but of course not in lard.

Davis reworked her tortilla recipe many times after receiving a good-natured scolding from the Houston Press about their texture and propensity to fall apart. The revised tortillas are much better — and much thicker, giving a pleasantly chewy texture to my spinach quesadilla, which was filled with whole, dark green leaves of spinach. No minced, frozen stuff here.

The fried avocado tacos are the star of the show.
Troy Fields
The fried avocado tacos are the star of the show.

Location Info

Map

Radical Eats

3903 Fulton
Houston, TX 77009

Category: Restaurant > Tex-Mex

Region: Heights

Details

11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday. 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.
Chips and queso: $5
Tamale plate: $8
Torta: $5.50
Enchilada plate: $8.50
Jalapeño poppers: $5
Fried avocado tacos: $8
All-you-can-eat Sunday brunch: $12
Bottomless aguas frescas: $3


READ MORE
BLOG POST: Totally Rad: Mexican Food Goes Vegan at Radical Eats
SLIDESHOW: Radical Eats: Vegan Food Has Never Tasted So Good


Related Stories

More About

Jody's enchilada was a bit of a letdown, however: while the mushrooms inside were thick and toothsome, the enchilada itself lacked enough of the creamy white sauce on top to keep it from drying out. And like the queso, there was a brightness missing: maybe a squeeze of citrus into the mushrooms as they cooked, or a tart vinegar note from some hot sauce would have helped. Radical Eats has a housemade salsa verde that's very good, but it will also scorch the tastebuds right off your tongue if consumed in volumes larger than a half-teaspoon. But you can't say it lacks flavor.
_____________________

That was my mother's refrain as we finished a leisurely Saturday-afternoon lunch at Radical Eats last week. "Everything is so flavorful!" she kept repeating. But I'd brought out the big guns for her, knowing that she was sure to love Radical Eats's signature items: an order of fried avocado tacos, tamales and jalapeño poppers. Yes, this hippie paradise has jalapeño poppers.

The cafe was filled that afternoon, with farmers' market workers perched at some tables, families at others. Individuals worked on laptops, taking advantage of the free Wi-Fi, while others read in contemplative silence as they absentmindedly munched on veggie-filled tortas. It's a common occurrence to see one of Davis's farmers' market associates bring in extra produce, or for urban farmers to bring their bumper crops up to the restaurant for her to use. We sipped on freshly pureed cantaloupe juice as we waited for our poppers.

Those poppers come filled with vegan cream cheese, which has that same tart-sour bite but a much creamier consistency than the real thing, coated in cornmeal and fried until screamingly hot. The cornmeal batter — used here in the fried avocado and fried okra tacos, too — gives the little bites a powerful, satisfying crunch without crushing the cream cheese inside.

The tamales are still as burstingly huge as they've always been, and on a plate at lunch, you get your choice of flavors. I went with spinach and corn, both served under a generous, peppy portion of sautéed onions and tomatoes: This is the topping I would have loved to see on those enchiladas. And I don't know a Mexican in the world who would be able to tell the difference between Radical Eats's vegan masa and real, lard-based masa; Davis has her tamale recipe down to a fine science.

My avocado tacos were the star of the show as usual, however. Fat, furiously green slices of avocado are battered in that cornmeal and end up gently oozing out of their crispy skin like melting butter. They're tucked into those fluffy tortillas and topped with crunchy red cabbage slaw and a chipotle-spiked Veganaise that I wish Davis would incorporate into every dish. There's a reason these tacos hit my list of 100 Favorite Dishes this year: I would make the drive to Radical Eats for these even if Davis had decided to set up shop in Shenandoah.

Luckily, she's just down the street. And although it's a transitioning neighborhood and not in the easiest spot to find, the light rail will soon be at her front door. Just mind the construction until then, and head down Patton to Fulton for Mexican food so good, you won't want to tell your friends it's vegan.

katharine.shilcutt@houstonpress.com

« Previous Page
 |
 
1
 
2
 
All
 
My Voice Nation Help
9 comments
gluten free foods restaurants
gluten free foods restaurants

If you can't determine menus about a restaurant or café before leaving your house, then telephone ahead. Perhaps make certain you have a couple of choices in the area, just in case a 'gluten free' restaurant is just claiming the certification to increase patrons, but knows zero about gluten free. Trust me, it happens more than you might think.

Michelle Gunnett
Michelle Gunnett

Staci's food is amazing! The avocado tacos are heavenly. Haven't tried the queso yet, so can't comment but if you want to try something truly cheesy get the Mac 'n Cheese. If it's not on the menu, it's sold prepackaged at Antidote Coffee and Black Hole Coffee. The restaurant is easy to get to from I-45 and Patton, just north of downtown.

Bigrob
Bigrob

Tried it on a whim and liked it...didnt think i would like anything off the menu, but the okra tacos were pretty damn delish.

Their websites states they are in the "Heights", and I was shocked to find this place in the hood I grew up in. Heights location - no, Heights prices - yes.

Glad to see they have a sunday brunch option at a reasonable price...look forward to returning soon.

eatTX
eatTX

Do they have a liquor license and if not are they BYOB?

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

They are BYOB for now, as mentioned in the review: "The place is in the process of obtaining a liquor license, though, and hopes to add a full biergarten out back alongside its garden in the fall months." So bring that beer and enjoy! :)

FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard

Alright, I'm going to try this place, but I am very skeptical that it will be any good. The only vegetarian thing I ever recommend is the felafel at Zabak's. I'll be sure and do a write up on it when i'm done.

 
Loading...