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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

When we went to Pistolero's that day, we were delighted to discover that it was Taco Tuesday (the first of many Taco Tuesdays in my future) and all 12 tacos on the menu were $2 each. Jackpot. After examining, then tasting every taco, we decided that we were only mildly disappointed by a few of them – the chicken, steak and lengua, all of which were a little too bland and chewy for my taste. For the most part, though, the tacos are an ideal blend of the Mexican street food concept with skillful recipes and preparation.

Standouts include the roast pork, which includes juicy pulled pork, mild corn salsa, avocado slices and cotija cheese. The salsa, avocado and sprinkling of cotija make this taco not only aesthetically pleasing (those colors!), but also lighter and more balanced than a meaty pulled-pork taco usually is. The barbacoa was another favorite of mine, due in large part to the fact that the smoky barbacoa was almost charred and crunchy. It's topped with a chopped jalapeño and onion "chilichuri" which adds heat that is then tempered by the red cabbage slaw. This is a beautifully constructed taco in both taste and appearance.

I also recommend the beer-battered fish taco, which comes with such a mighty piece of flaky white fish that the doubled corn tortillas barely hold its heft. It's topped with a creamy chili aioli and sweet honey lime slaw, both of which complement the salty fish. For those who don't eat meat, Pistolero's offers two great vegetarian taco options, but the better of the two is definitely the grilled portabella mushroom with cauliflower purée, jalapeño jam and jack cheese. The mushrooms are smoky and earthy and such a good meat substitute that I doubt anyone would miss it. And I could probably eat a bowl of the silky, slightly spicy cauliflower purée spiked with jalapeño jam and call it soup. Judge if you want.

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.


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At dinner, I stuck to the larger plates on the menu, which are indeed large. I invited two friends to join me for dinner, and when the main course arrived, it seemed that the kitchen had planned the order of the delivery to achieve maximum shock. First our waiter set down the tres puercos burrito, a sizable burrito, but nothing I hadn't seen before at Tex-Mex restaurants or even Chipotle. Then the waiter brought out the seafood relleno, which was significantly larger than the burrito and a masterpiece of colorful rice, salsa and seafood. Finally, the waiter set down the hambur-torta, which left us speechless. It was like something out of a competitive eating show – three layers of meat, bun and toppings held together by a large steak knife stabbed down the center.

This most impressive dish also happened to be my favorite. It's three layers of tender spiced hamburger meat topped with a fried egg, bacon, avocados, and sautéed mushrooms and onions. There are a few fries stuffed in there, too, just for good measure. It's difficult to express the individual flavors present in the hambur-torta, because they all meld together in a magnificent mosaic of spice and smokiness. The meat was cooked to medium with a nice char on the outside and soft, smooth texture on the inside. The added combination of the hot, spicy meat with earthy mushrooms and cool avocado would have been enough, but once the juice from the yolk of the fried egg trickled down the sides of the burger and soaked into the slightly sweet bun on the bottom, the dish became a masterwork.

If your appetite doesn't match that of my friend who valiantly downed that entire hambur-torta, Pistolero's offers a number of excellent appetizers to pair with a drink or three. The crispy nopales are balls of chopped cactus that have been battered and deep fried until they resemble crispy fried okra with the mild flavor of the green, gelatinous nopales enhanced by the chili aioli served as a dipping sauce.

The cerveza queso is another winner, which surprised me because queso is something I usually enjoy but write off as a dish that needs to be left alone, free from the extra garnishes and flavors that chefs try to impart on the Tex-mex classic. Pistolero's queso has the flavor of spicy beer cheese soup but the thickness of good, old-fashioned, melted Velveeta, the processed cheese product for which I have an unhealthy affinity. If you can add beer and heat to my boring queso routine and improve upon a classic, then I salute you.

For a place that serves so many small dishes perfect for pairing with a few cocktails, Pistolero's drinks are decidedly disappointing. Pistolero's calls itself a tequila bar, but with the exception of the Mexican Martini and the Añejo Old Fashioned, the drinks are light on tequila and overly sweet. The cocktails are inventive and sound impressive in theory with muddled herbs and fruit and homemade tequila infusions, but most of them fall flat. I get that a drink called "Stawberry Limonada" or an infusion of pineapple and jalapeno might be on the sweet side, and there's certainly a market for fruity cocktails, but I was quite dissatisfied with my margarita on the rocks. It tasted like limeade with a hint of tequila, and left me longing for more limey zing and tequila bite and less freaking ice. Pistolero's does have a rather extensive tequila and mezcal menu though, so if it's tequila you're after, I recommend ordering off that menu and skipping the cocktails all together. It's too bad about the cocktails though, because the bar atmosphere is laid-back and fun, and there's a great selection of Mexican beer.

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10 comments
Mikala13
Mikala13

<!--my buddy's mom makes $69 hourly on the laptop. She has been fired for 10 months but last month her pay check was $14590 just working on the laptop for a few hours. right here-----------------Buzz55.com-->

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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