Surprise Ending

The traditional Chilean dish pastel de choclo ($6.50) is as unexpected as the restaurant that serves it. Viva Chile (4010 Highway 6, 281-531-7673) may be just a tiny storefront eatery visible only from the feeder road, but inside, its mismatched tablecloths, eclectic Latino art and savory kitchen aromas are almost enough to transport customers to South America. Viva Chile's corn pie is stuffed with beef, chicken and raisins, with sprinkles of cinnamon and paprika baked into the top crust. The restaurant semi-pulverizes fresh-frozen corn to make a thick, sweet crust and partial filling; its taste mixes well with that of the puffy, cooked raisins. Dig into the pie to find pieces of chicken and beef and, finally, half a pearly boiled egg, glimmering like a Cracker Jack prize. It's just like the restaurant: well hidden and worth the trouble.


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