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The Real World

With expectations sky-high, El Real Tex-Mex Cafe struggles for glory.

Take a trip behind the scenes in our slideshow, and see exactly how those terrific cheese enchiladas are made.

A mammoth burger sits in front of me at El Real Tex-Mex Cafe, one bun heaped high with meat that's balanced precariously between a pantry's worth of toppings.

On the bottom of the bun, in place of mustard or mayonnaise, is a viscous spread of refried beans, rich with lard and well-salted. Atop the beans are Fritos, which are already soaking up the juices that ooze from the meat. And piled on the patty is a tangle of caramelized onions, roasted poblano peppers and melty shreds of queso fresco. The lettuce and tomato on top look almost laughably out of place by this point, and as I take my first bite of the beautifully medium-rare burger, I think to myself: This is a burger that Robb Walsh would be proud of.

The old-school cheese enchiladas are topped with real-deal chili gravy.
Troy Fields
The old-school cheese enchiladas are topped with real-deal chili gravy.

Location Info

Map

El Real Tex-Mex Cafe

1201 Westheimer
Houston, TX 77006

Category: Restaurant > Tex-Mex

Region: Montrose

Details

11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday, 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. Friday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday
Frito pie: $6.95
Queso fundido: $7.95
Tacos al carbon: $14.95
San Antonio puffy taco plate: $9.95
Enchiladas #7: $10.95
El Gallo Verde: $12.95
Roosevelt Special: $13.95
El Real burger: $8.95
Churros: $4.95
Milkshake No Minors: $5.95


READ MORE
BLOG POST: El Real Tex-Mex Cafe & Shrine: Revival of the Fittest
SLIDESHOW: Keeping It Real at El Real Tex-Mex Cafe


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And he should be proud of it; it's his burger, after all.

The former food critic for the Houston Press opened El Real Tex-Mex Cafe in March of this year along with two other notable heavy-hitters in the city's dining scene: Bryan Caswell, chef at Reef and host of the Food Network's Best in Smoke, and Bill Floyd. Floyd and Caswell are known for opening and operating a slew of successful restaurants in Houston: Reef, Little Bigs and Stella Sola. Floyd grew up in San Antonio, dining on that city's famous puffy tacos, and Walsh is the author of three books on Tex-Mex cuisine. All three share a love of old-school Tex-Mex, and created El Real Tex-Mex Cafe as an outpouring of their affection for the often maligned cuisine. The trio seemed perfectly matched, but it was also faced with legions of detractors hoping it would fail.

Although Walsh is almost universally beloved by our readers, they take a very different view of Caswell, who they see as getting too big for his britches. For his part, Caswell takes his many knocks with grace and rarely comments publicly on the flak thrown his way. Likewise, Walsh is disliked by many restaurateurs, many of whom have been eager to rip his restaurant apart in acts of retribution.

"The hunter will become the hunted," warned Rich Connelly in the Houston Press about El Real's announced opening.

Despite a rocky opening and harsh reviews, the men haven't failed in their pursuit of Tex-Mex glory. But they have faltered.
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At El Real, even the smallest details are noticed by diners, from good to bad: The chairs, rescued from Felix Mexican Restaurant up the road, have been beautifully and lovingly refurbished. Good. The margaritas have an unremitting chemical aftertaste. Bad. The rich, dusky, nostalgia-inducing chile powder is ground by hand, from scratch, every day. Good. The food often arrives with dried, crispy edges, as if it's been sitting under a salamander broiler for too long. Bad.

Consistency issues abound at El Real, in its food, its drinks and its service. There's absolutely no denying that the food here is good — very good, in fact, as with the lush, almost buttery tacos al carbon — but it's so often mangled by the kitchen that it's difficult to appreciate that hand-ground chile powder or the lush, porcine lard that laces the refried beans. I've been on the receiving end of several wrong plates, of dried-out enchiladas, of Frito Pies with only the scantest amount of chili-logged chips, of bland tortillas lacking any salt, of food that took so long to arrive in an otherwise quiet early evening service that I wondered if — to quote my father — the cooks were out back killing the chickens themselves. One memorable afternoon, my dining companion received a mug full of pure tequila and ice after requesting a margarita on the rocks. "I thought that's what you wanted," responded the confused waiter. "You asked for house tequila."

Service, too, suffers. Waitstaff ranges from overly attentive to entirely absent, as with a bumbling young man who recently hung out at our table so often — intruding on conversations with his own take on subjects — that one dining companion jokingly offered him some of our food. I understand that when a certain new Tex-Mex place opened down the street, it poached almost all of El Real's staff. It's a tribute to El Real, however, that most of the staff came back mere days later.

And that's because, when it gets right down to it, El Real has a very solid foundation and the potential to become a landmark restaurant. There's nothing else like it in town. The chips and salsa alone testify to this fact.
_____________________

The chips are thin, fine tributes to tortilla chips of old, as they should be. Ditto the salsa, served warm, which contains thickets of tomatoes and peppers that are roasted every day. Its deep, meaty flavor comes from the addition of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, for a satisfyingly rich kick. These two are almost enough to endear me to El Real through the good and the bad. After all, it's these nostalgic throwbacks upon which the entire restaurant is based.

Walsh, the "Tex-Mex apologist," unabashedly showcases old favorites on the menu alongside memorabilia and photos of Tex-Mex kings (and queens), past and present. On a wall upstairs hangs an ancient photo of legendary Tex-Mex purveyor Felix Tijerina with Pancho Villa's army; downstairs, posters tout the new Chingo Bling platter, named for the popular Houston rapper (whose real name, by the way, is Pedro Herrera III).

Those old menu favorites include dishes rarely seen elsewhere in Houston: San Antonio-style puffy tacos that are at their best when filled with soft shreds of mesquite-smoked chicken; enchiladas borunda, stacked enchiladas in the style of West Texas, filled with hearty pork and laced with sweet guajillo chiles; old-school cheese enchiladas topped with real-deal chili gravy, thick with high-quality ground beef and darker than the thin, ruddy sauce so many Houstonians have come to know and — in my case — accept grudgingly. The #7 cheese enchiladas at El Real are a revelation for younger generations who've never known the old style, and a pleasant trip down memory lane for people like my Texan parents.

"These taste just like the enchiladas I grew up with," my mother kept exclaiming over lunch one day. She delighted in reading the old menus that are planted under each tabletop — 25 cents for an enchilada platter here, 5 cents for a margarita there — and in browsing through the Tex-Mex "museum" upstairs after lunch. There's an odd, shrine-like sense to the memorabilia and old menus that sit, lit professionally, behind thick panes of glass.

For that museum, however, I don't see El Real becoming a shrine itself any time soon, although it could become one over a long period of time. Say, about the same length of time it took for places like Leo's and Felix — the restaurants that El Real seeks to emulate through an elaborate homage — to become shrines of their own.

To achieve that kind of success, El Real will have to perform an intricate dance between offering its patrons that nostalgic cuisine as well as creating their own. With dishes like the simply fantastic El Real burger and Caswell's signature "Wholefish" fajitas — the restaurant's twist on snapper a la plancha — it has real possibilities. And that's to say nothing of the actual beef fajitas here, that symbolic dish of "new" Tex-Mex cuisine, which use the same deeply flavorful outside skirt steak that Walsh has long touted as the best in the biz. But it will have to overcome those service and kitchen issues first.

I'd also like to see the restaurant be more inviting, something that's hard to achieve in such a vast, high-ceilinged space. It could start with the hostesses, many of whom seem irritated to have to greet and seat guests, and often end up seating them in bizarre places: right next to the kitchen or bathrooms when the restaurant is otherwise empty, or all alone in the desolate section upstairs with no other tables. At least up there, though, you have El Real's fascinating museum to entertain you while you wait for a server to climb the metal stairs to your aerie.

And in this large space that was carved out of the old Tower Theater, I'd love to see more of an emphasis on the giant movie screen that Caswell insisted on installing, a throwback to the building's glory days as Montrose's main movie palace. Its neon lights and marquee have been lovingly restored as well, bringing a bright new sense of wonder to the Lower Westheimer curve once again.

Instead of the third screening of Fort Apache on the restaurant's giant back wall, why not host midnight movies once in a while? Charge $20 a head for a screening of La Bamba or Selena, $20 that covers the movie as well as one margarita, chips and salsa (which are already bottomless) and one plate of those magical #7 cheese enchiladas. It's $20 that I'd be more than happy to spend, here in a place that treasures Tex-Mex food as much as I do.

katharine.shilcutt@houstonpress.com

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75 comments
Peraltajg
Peraltajg

I wasnt hoping it would fall when I went, I was excited after seeing positive reviews from Houston area food critics. I gotta tell you I'm at the point where I've become extremely cynical of any review that comes from a critic and not a regular Joe. El Real is awful. I was extremely disappointed with the bland and dry puffy chicken taco, the mediocre pork tamale, and the terrible tasting beef enchiladas. How do you screw up beef enchiladas? My girlfriend and I paid $35 for two plated and were only able to eat a third of it. El Real is definitely not worthy of any praise nor your money.

dan
dan

The one time I went, I was surprised at just how bad the food was. Everything tasted extremely salty. Just not edible. The chips were chewy because they were not cooked properly. The chili sauce on the enchiladas was Wolf Brand chili. Rice was all dried out and the beans were overly salty. I ended up leaving 90% of the food on the plate. The taco shell was falling apart at the first bite cause the meat was so greasy. I didn't find anything that could even be considered average. This place won't last long. It is just awful

ilovetoeatanddrink
ilovetoeatanddrink

After reading this review I laughed my ass off and I agree with every person who rip Katharine Shilcutt who is arguably the worst food critic known to man. This is prolly one of the worst reviews I have ever read on a restaurant that everyone agrees is going to fail within the next six months. I also shame houston press for allowing her to write a review that is clearly biased and even takes a low blow at another establishment for hiring people. Poaching employees thats a joke because I think you and walsh prolly poach. Everyone knows that Walsh used to be a food critic at houston press so Im willing to bet that somewhere in his tenure at HP yall worked together. If you think El "Crappo" is a "landmark restaurant" you clearly have not had quality food of any type. I'd rather eat from the taco truck down the road then that place again. I wanted to believe they could make tex mex work but cashwell jsut stick to the reef and get out of the mexican food business.

Oh one more thing as I was driving home from 1308 tonight I notice el crappo was voted best tex mex by any guess... HOUSTON PRESS hahahahaha.. I wonder if walsh had pull on that award??? Thanks Katharine for the laugh u truly made my day.. :)

Devalia
Devalia

Big review, and I thought it pretty fairly balanced and informative overall. Well done!But I have a point of contention that I hope you'll address from a journalist's perspective:

You write: "I understand that when a certain new Tex-Mex place opened down the street, it poached almost all of El Real's staff. It's a tribute to El Real, however, that most of the staff came back mere days later."

You "understand" this? How exactly? Did you hear it from someone? Someone at El Real? Did you witness it? Did a waiter who was 'poached' tell you this?

While that sentence is a convenient bridge to your next part of the review, and weaves well with your general hopeful theme for the restaurant, I don't think it's accurate. El Real was overstaffed at the beginning, the biz was inconsistent, and as such much of the waitstaff were motivated enough to leave on their own. So whither the 'poaching' charge and slight against that other restaurant?

Texmex01
Texmex01

El Real needs to have the Texans games up on that big screen on Sundays, maybe a Sunday Texans Brunch Buffet.......I'd be there in a heartbeat...

reluctantkaratemom
reluctantkaratemom

As an umpteenth generation native Texan and fan of Robb Walsh, I waited with excitement for El Real to open it's doors. We went for my birthday in March and it was simply SAD. I would never turn my nose up at a Margarita, but ours were undrinkable. My son's flautas/taquitos whatever you want to cal them were inedible. The queso was just okay. I was so disappointed. The waitstaff was as poor as the meal. My husband and I always say we can forgive bad service, but never bad food. The only bright spot was the memoribalia. I knew both Leo and the Tijerina Family and miss those restaurants. We eat Mexican food every Friday night, no matter what city in Texas we are in. I will wait one year and give them one more try. There is a 5% chance they will still be open then.

Sabrina
Sabrina

Since moving back to Houston several years ago, I have used the Houston Press as my restaurant guide. The reviews have proven to be reliable, with an eclectic mix of restaurants.This Saturday afternoon I dragged my husband to El Real Tex Mex Cafe with minimum expectations, The review was not exactly harsh, but I did not know if I would spend half my time chasing down the wait staff. My fears were unjustified, We were greeted warmly, and because it was right before dinner hour we were able to pick our table. The wonderful, fragrant salsa and chips were at our table Immediately with our server right behind. The server was professional and while he was busy, we did not suffer. The server asked us had we been there before, when we acknowledged that we had not, he proceed to explain some of the unique menu items. He had my husband at BURGER, which was exactly as it was described, And every single bit of it was devoured. I ordered one smoked chicken puff taco, and the Enchiladas Burunda,I was worried that it was going to be dry and tasteless, wrong again! The manager even had us sample the Margarita, which was wonderful, it was obvious that they were made without all that sweet garbage that is so overused in many restaurants. After the meal, the manager asked questions and seemed genuinely interested in our suggests. OVERALL a great meal and great service!

Winelush
Winelush

What I don't understand is everyone has been criticizing the same things over & over and why hasnt it been fixed? The comment about the staff leaving then returning raises some questions. It sounds to me there are serious education issues that the principals don't have time to address.

I finally went a month ago. My tamale plate came out inedible, dried out, the beans were a hockey puck, the rice looked like uncooked parboiled package stuff.

I didn't ask for it to be fixed. I'm one of those diners once something comes to me that bad, it ruins my meal completely.

My girlfriend however had a another go, the second plate was just as bad.

We want ElReal to be successful. But I always wonder what is in an owners head that they would allow bad product to be served in their name. I never understood that, especially with these talented owners. Very perplexing problem.

leslie
leslie

I'm a loyalist. I'll stay with LaMex.

Gross Food Sucks
Gross Food Sucks

Wow, you must be talking about a different restaurant than I visited. Completely over rated, don't get people's obsession to this place and it's trite cuisine. I'll pass!

Anse
Anse

I have patronized a handful of the old-school Tex-Mex institutions (Matt's El Rancho in Austin, Larry's in Richmond, Felix before it closed, a few others), and not a single one of them gets it right every single time, and most of them do a few dishes better than others. El Real sorta had it coming for selling itself as some kind of savior, and putting an idea into the heads of people that it would cook the supreme archetype of a cuisine that is by definition rustic and a little rough around the edges anyway. El Real makes good food, I've enjoyed it myself, but come on. This is Tex-Mex. They're aiming for a target that moves with every customer's personal nostalgic conception of their greatest Tex-Mex memory. They're never going to achieve that but they can still put out a good plate and that's all anybody should reasonably expect.

Cmetz2468
Cmetz2468

As anyone who has read the text on the back of Leo's menu knows, as a teenager Reynosa rode with that quintessential romantic revolutionary hero Francisco Villa (who began his life as Doroteo Arango and is best remembered as Pancho Villa). Photographs of the soi-disant general and his Villistas decorated the walls of the restaurant

Kelly
Kelly

This place is delicious. The berunda enchiladas with a fried egg and the burger are amazing! I haven't had a regular margarita yet, but I've had the bartender make me specialty ones that have been very good. I will continue going back for sure

That's just gross
That's just gross

The thought of anything called "chili gravy" on top of greasy yellow cheese on top of a anglicized "enchilada" makes me gag. There's a reason no one else makes this shit anymore.

Jason
Jason

I can sum up my visit to El Real in one word: SALT. My entire meal was so ridiculously salty it was almost inedible, but I know better than to send food back at a restaurant, lest my meal end up with more ingredients than it started with. I was incredibly disappointed because I went in completely open minded, expecting the food to probably need some refinement (every new place has to tweak the food a bit), but severly oversalting the food is just unacceptable at even the most pedestrian of establishments. They also need to do something about the rancid, acrid stench that emanates from the chip warmer over by the restrooms. The unpleasant smell is overpowering and unappetizing.

JRA
JRA

The " Real Guacamole" at Yelapa Playa Mexicana kills anything served at El Real ...

Corey
Corey

This seemed to focus on too many other things than the food, it kind of would get into the dishes and then meander off on a tangent about tex mex history. My impression of this place, has been meh, which also mirrors the attitudes of the employees too.

Jay Francis
Jay Francis

In the 1950's a Mexican director/actor compiled many of the stories about Pancho Villa and presented them in, I believe, three films. Vignettes of varying time. I would love to see El Real have some of its staff with connections to Mexico track down these DVD's and show those on the big screen. I caught them a couple of years back on Turner Classic Movies and regret not having saved them:

http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title...

Jim Ayres
Jim Ayres

I think El Real has gotten better with every visit. If it's just me, or two of us, I sit at the bar and drink beer. Thus service and drinks are always fine. And all I know is, every time I order those incredible beef fajita nachos, just like big hair in Dallas, I feel closer to Heaven. Truly the most comforting dish in Houston.

FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard

I've been here close to a dozen times so far, and I have no affiliation with this place. Katharine nailed what this place is, so far. At times i have had the best tamales, enchiladas in Houston. And the burger is great, as well as the frito pie. But the last two trips my food (and others) were lackluster. The beans didn't even have that baconey lard taste. And it is so disappointing telling folks they have to try this place out, only to be served half-assed renditions of their food. To be fair to them, I have sent emails to them about my last two trips and they responded back immediately saying they would work on fixing the problem. I hope they do, because when you eat there on a good day, it is easily a place you'd heartily recommend.

Biker
Biker

Let the hating begin....it's so strange how the mention of some restaurants and/or some names are so incendiary. Y'all be weird folks sometimes.

Now, this review seems to me to be very fair. Not hatin' on the place for its mistakes nor glossing over them, either. It amuses me to see who reads what into articles and how far reading comprehension has gone down in most peoples abilities.

All that being said, why WOULDN'T any of you WANT to see El Real succeed??? Oh, except for that whole weird jealousy thing going on. That aside, I imagine most Houstonians would love to see this place do well...for several reasons: 1)They had the respect and the cojones to take on a landmark like the old Tower theatre and try to save it and make something GOOD of it. 2)They have the respect for old school Tex-Mex to try to save what was great about this cuisine (bite me Diana Kennedy) and offer it up to this city. Is it always perfect?? No, of course not! But when it's good, it's fantastic!!

I, personally, grew up eating at El Fenix and spent many hours sitting over margs at old Leo's on Shepherd...with its crooked floors and dank dining room (we called it Flea-o's) and eating their fantastic Tex-Mex meals. I'm thrilled that these guys have revived that genre of food and I will support them in this endeavor all I can. Actually, now that I think about it, thank you Robb and Bryan and Bill for doing this. I just don't see why you assholes can't let it be...enjoy it or shut up. Sincerely.a

Don John
Don John

Why would you start a sentence proclaiming "...the food here is good -- very good..." and then immediately follow up with a full paragraph on how the kitchen reliably "mangles" the food until you can't "appreciate" how good it is. THAT MEANS THE FOOD ISN'T GOOD.

I hate seeing local food critics struggle to find ways to stay complimentary towards El Real. I pointed out to Allison Cook (who actually agreed) in her review that you local reviewers are just too close to the owners to ever write an objective review, and that's terribly disappointing.

These guys started with every possible advantage -- loads of investment cash, nationally-recognized names, one of the living authorities on Tex-Mex, years of experience and a high-profile location -- and have somehow wasted it all. Quit trying to sugarcoat things and just call El Real out for being, by far, the worst high-profile restaurant to open in town in the last several years.

I went there twice when it first opened and got bad service (no water, the wrong dish, someone else's check), overcooked food and no apologies. Took several months off and went back last week. The food was dry, the drinks were gross, and even though there were only two other occupied tables (9pm on a weeknight), incredibly slow service. By the end of the meal, we decided to time how long it took from asking for the check to signing the receipt. It took 29 minutes and 2 follow-up requests. Every single person at the table ran out of water in that time. No refills.

There are literally dozens of better and cheaper Tex-Mex restaurants in Houston, and the only Tex-Mex around that can justify charging El Real's prices is Original Ninfa's. If El Real had any other owners, you, Allison, and the Robb Walsh of 10 years ago would be tearing this place a new one.

To borrow a phrase from your headline's namesake: Stop being polite and start getting real.

jenniegump
jenniegump

If this weren't a Walsh-Caswell production, you wouldn't be trying so hard to like it and find the "good" in what is a disappointing restaurant. I do applaud your fairness at calling out the staff's weaknesses and undrinkable margaritas. There are so many wonderful Tex-Mex restaurants in Houston that do almost everything well. It's shameful that reviewers for major publications seem hellbent on making El Real succeed, when, in fact, it may not deserve to. Use your platform to honor the places who have done Tex Mex with respect for years and the many small, out of the way joints who might flourish with your review. Start with La Mexicana, right around the corner from El Real, with its vast menu of authentic Tex Mex specialties, great breakfasts, superb drinks and dignified waiters, many of whom have worked there for years.

Jennifer Groves
Jennifer Groves

Katharine, you seem in denial. I know you want this place to be good - so did I - but the truth is you get far better tex mex at the original Ninfas or at Teotihuacan. The meal I had there was borderline disgusting, the margaritas were awful and it's all overpriced for what it is. El Real just doesn't cut it.

Maggie_Mae
Maggie_Mae

I've had good luck at El Real. Generally drop off on my way home--a commute by bus, so there's no need to tip a valet. At that hour, the place is not packed, so quality & service are fine. (Yes, I know they need to handle a packed house.) Don't care for the margs but St Arnold's in a chilled mug is mighty fine--& I even went with ice tea during the worst of the hot weather.

Mostly I love the classic Tex Mex that I grew up with--but think innovation is great. I do agree that the decor needs some work. What about more lights criss-crossing the ceiling? With maybe some papel picado to get that fiesta in the plaza effect? Better movies on occasion? Great! (Oh, the music is generally excellent.)

Jose Garcia
Jose Garcia

Overall I agree will most of this, but I must say that since opening they seem to have improved. Alot of the early mis-steps have been ironed out, especially with the food and margs.

Hugh Ramsey
Hugh Ramsey

Very fair review. About how I have felt about my visits. Fair.

HiggenbothomH
HiggenbothomH

Why would anyone poach from a place with horrendous service problems? Makes no sense at all.My guess is it came from El Real as a rationalization/excuse for their subpar service. And even after the staff returned, as Katharine notes, the service issues continue.

Texmex01
Texmex01

Love LaMex, but different type of food, I like stringy, gooey cheese enchiladas, not Queso fresco in them, but LaMex is still in the lead for breakfast!

Cat
Cat

Sadly, Yelapa is now closed while El Real remains open, but probably not for long.

Sharon Worster
Sharon Worster

'Just like big hair in Dallas.' I heart you!!!!!!

Jason
Jason

I sent my comments to them about my horrible meal and bad service, and they never responded.

AuntiMatter
AuntiMatter

"Is it always perfect?? No, of course not! But when it's good, it's fantastic!!"

I had high expectations for El Real, and I wanted to like it each time I've eaten there. I've been there a few times, hoping they've worked out the kinks every new restaurant has. I've all but given up on the place as anything but a place to have drinks and chips/salsa.

Like you, I miss Leo's and El Felix, but so far El Real has not filled those shoes, despite a pedigree that should ensure it can revive those memories.

Sadly, after a few visits, I've only experienced the imperfect, and never the fantastic. When I start hearing stories of consistently good service and food, I'll go back. Until then, I just feel silly paying for the promise of great, old school Tex-Mex and receiving disappointment.

Alison Cook
Alison Cook

Don Juan, I never agreed with you that I wrote what I did because I was "too close" to the principals of El Real.

I would have to go back and excavate the long, long pile of comments to my review, but I would never have agreed with that point. In fact, I have had such serious differences with Robb Walsh over the past year and a half that I really don't consider him a friend. Not sure how that fits in with your theory. I wrote what I wrote because I believed it and I experienced it. I may have agreed with you that I could have expressed myself more clearly in a sentence or two, but that's the extent of it. By the way, my name is spelled with one "l."

foodMaven
foodMaven

Which raises the question of whether the owners are involved in the operation. It's past the point where the inconsistency and poor service are opening jitters. If I'm going to take in all those calories and fat grams I want it to be worth it!

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

I adore La Mex, as evidenced by placing its menudo at No. 25 on our list of 100 Favorite Dishes: http://blogs.houstonpress.com/... And I'm not sure if y'all read the Press every week or not, but the large majority of the reviews I write focus on small, out-of-the-way, hole-in-the-wall places, Tex-Mex and otherwise, that really deserve attention. You're exactly right: That's how I enjoy using this platform, and I'll continue doing so. But we also review high-profile places, too; we want to be well-rounded for you guys, after all. :)

SoSezYou
SoSezYou

And there's a reason why no one cares what a shithead thinks.

Biker
Biker

That's only fair, AuntiMatter....to wait until it gets these kinks worked out. Hopefully they will. I have my fingers AND toes crossed, because I really want this to succeed. I actually cried when Leo's closed (it was sad enough when they moved).

As for El Real - I have to say that every time I've ordered the cheese enchiladas and the chicken enchiladas, the meal was 100% perfect. When I ordered the tacos al carbon, they were dry and listless. The service can be strange - overbearing one time and MIA the next. But, like I said before, when they're on, the food and experience are great!!

Don John
Don John

Alison, I'm sorry if you feel I misrepresented your view. As I recall, I pointed out that the long list of criticisms in your review should have led to a much harsher conclusion than your summary. You responded that yes, they should have and you weren't sure why you chose the particular phrasing you did. Like you say, it was just a matter of a sentence or two, but they made a big difference in the overall tone of the review.

That said, the fact remains that both you and Katherine had way too many complaints about the food and service to end up with the semi-positive (or at least hopeful) reviews that you published. I tried El Real when they opened and I tried them last week, and the problems have only gotten worse, and that's what's so frustrating about the El Real team -- the perception that they just don't care, that somehow by virtue of their credentials, a great restaurant is just going to magically come together. The more critics hesitate to call them out for running a straight-up crappy restaurant, the less likely they are to take serious steps to fix those problems.

Most of all, though, I apologize for misspelling your name. I should know better!

Texmex01
Texmex01

I have been going to LaMex since it was just a little taco shop, and the food is good, but sweet Jesus palomino the prices are WAY out of line for what it is now.....

Texmex01
Texmex01

Leo's was a neighborhood fixture through my childhood, we would eat there every Sunday, my father would sit in the back with Mr Reynosa and the boys and tell stories while my mother and the kids visited with the other familes, it is one of my favorite memories..

Texmex01
Texmex01

its about to get real in the Whole Foods parking lot....

FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard

Interesting that Robb, Katharine AND Alison all have unique spellings. Something's afoot at the Circle K.

Alison Cook
Alison Cook

Yeah, but I got you back by addressing you as "Don Juan," to fit the subject matter. Allow me my little joke.

We just disagree that El Real is a "straight-up crappy restaurant." It seems a lot more mixed than that to me.

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

Everyone misspells my name. Don't quit over something like that. ;)

Don John
Don John

And then I followed up by misspelling Katharine's name. I'm gonna go ahead and quit now. Yeesh.

 
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