Hot Plate

Hot But Sweet: Don't be scared off by the guajillo chilies in the Shrimp Santa Fe ($13.95), one of the most popular dishes at the River Cafe [3615 Montrose, (713)529-0088]. The medium-heat chilies are deliciously bittersweet and make the thick, creamy, reddish-yellow guajillo sauce more sweet than spicy. A half-dozen jumbo shrimp are perfectly sautéed -- even ten seconds too long can ruin the texture, an all-too-common mistake at other restaurants -- and served swimming in the sauce. The plate comes with a side of rice, so that every last drop of the rich topping can be savored, long after the crustaceans are gone. In fact, if I didn't love the shrimp so much, I could easily be satisfied with a bowl of rice and that wonderful guajillo sauce.


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