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Hitting the Taco Jackpot at Pistolero’s

The love child of Tex-Mex and California-Mex, Pistolero’s settles in on Westheimer

To get a behind the scenes look at Pistolero's, check out our slideshow.

It didn't occur to me when I first sat down at the sparkling, copper-tiled bar; heaved a sigh for my long, arduous day; and ordered a drink that it was anything other than a normal evening. The chic space was filled with people happily munching on chips and queso and sipping margaritas. A soccer game was on TV. I was tired and hungry and not in a good mood. The guys next to me were perusing the menu, discussing the pros and cons of each taco, and though I was feeling less than social, I considered it my duty to interject.

"Are you trying to decide which taco to have?" I inquired. "You pretty much can't go wrong. I've tried them all."

Hit the taco jackpot on Tuesdays, when each taco is only $2. Cha-ching!
Troy Fields
Hit the taco jackpot on Tuesdays, when each taco is only $2. Cha-ching!

Details

1517 Westheimer, 281-974-3860. Hours: Monday through Friday, 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.

Crispy nopales with chili aioli $4.75
Cerveza queso pistolero $5.75
Pistol-elote street corn $6.75
Tacos: one for $3.95, four for $14, 10 for $30
Tres Puercos burrito $9.75
Hambur-torta $11.75
Classic mole braised pork $14.75
Añejo Old Fashioned $11
Mexican Martini $12
Bloody Maria $12
House Margarita $7



To get a behind the scenes look at Pistolero's, check out our slideshow.


I explained that I came in one Tuesday and ordered one of every taco on the menu, because on Tuesdays, each taco is only $2. That's really the best time to get tacos, I said knowingly. Tuesday.

The men looked at me bewildered before realizing that I was the confused one.

"Honey," one of the guys said, "today is Tuesday." And then more excitedly "Today is Taco Tuesday!"

Hallelujah, I thought. My day just got infinitely better.

Every time I've eaten at Pistolero's, I've left with a full belly and elevated mood. Something about the shabby-chic Mexican pop art on the walls and the modern Mexican street food-style menu (not to mention the tequila bar) makes me nearly giddy. From the Dia de los Muertos-themed décor to the badass hambur-torta that's the size of a football, Pistolero's is doing it right, filling a niche that Houstonians probably didn't realize needed filling. But now that it's here, what did we do without Taco Tuesdays?
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Not quite a Tex-Mex restaurant, not quite a mom and pop taqueria and not quite an upscale ode to fine Mexican cuisine, Pistolero's is the badass cousin to all three. It has Tex-Mex elements, of course, like cerveza queso and beef fajitas, but the menu errs more on the side of classic street food with a modern twist.

Of course, no one in the restaurant industry seems too surprised to see this love child of Tex-Mex and California-Mex creating a home for itself in a trendy Houston neighborhood on Westheimer. It's the newest baby of Montrose mogul Shawn Bermudez, who also owns Boondocks, Royal Oak Bar and Grill, two vintage clothing shops, Pavement and Taxi Taxi; and two food trucks, all of which make a home on Westheimer between Dunlavy and Waugh. Now, with Pistolero's as part of Bermudez's mini empire, people are starting to take note of the California native's place in the Houston dining scene.

Pistolero's opened in May and most, like me, were immediately taken with the restaurant's chic but folksy design and killer happy hour deals. The design is something Bermudez refers to as "Mexican pop," a mix of traditional and modern steeped in Mexican popular culture. The restaurant is a veritable shrine to the pistolero, a Mexican outlaw with a sombrero and a scowl, represented artistically in multiple places around the restaurant but most formidably by a life-size bust that watches over the bar. Shelves lined with bottles of tequila stretch up to where the Pistolero sits enthroned in a gilded shadowbox, creating a tableau reminiscent of a Dia de los Muertos altar honoring guns, lawlessness and agave.

Two walls are covered in reclaimed wood panels, one in reclaimed corrugated tin that has begun to rust in some places, and the fourth wall has new brickwork. The mélange of textures would be completely rustic were it not for the extravagant glittering tile on the bar and the funky art hung in every empty space on the wall.

The more sinister cards from the Mexican bingo game Lotería have been blown up and framed (think "El Diablo" and "La Calavera"), and decorative crosses fill the spaces between old black-and-white photos of Mexico and folk-art paintings of skeletons and the Virgin of Guadalupe. Moravian star light fixtures hang from the ceiling, creating diffuse golden light that's not marred by the six big-screen TVs positioned around the space in anticipation of soccer season, which Bermudez hopes will bring big crowds to the bar. Bermudez doesn't need to wait for soccer season though, because it's not the TVs that are drawing crowds to Pistolero's. It's the food.

The idea was to make Pistolero's an even merger of bar and restaurant without emphasizing either element more than the other. It's a great idea in theory, but in actuality, Chef Brandon Shillings's menu is the star of the show.

It's divided into four sections: Small Plates; Tacos; Tortas, Burritos & Such; and Large Plates. The small plates are appetizer-size, but anything else on the menu could be a meal. The tacos lend themselves particularly well to sharing, which is pretty much a necessity when you eat out with me, because I want to try everything. Fortunately, when I ate at Pistolero's with some co-workers, they were game to share, so I was able to try every single taco on the menu.

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10 comments
Mikala13
Mikala13

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jd_key
jd_key

$2 Tuesdays have changed - $2 Tecates are no more and the tacos are now only $1.  Still a great deal.  It's becoming my Tuesday tradition.

Derp
Derp

Can someone give me the cliffnotes for this?

Stuart48
Stuart48

A $4 taco?  A $7 house margarita? A $12 bloody Maria? Sounds like a sucker's paradise.

Houstess
Houstess

I'm so glad you like the food, because I do too and I want to see them stick around.  The menu is so unique and interesting and flavorful.  I was sad to see Alison's distaste for the massive burger in a recent burger Friday review, but then again with so many better options, no need to order a burger.  

 
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