There's something about Pistolero's, the new taco and tequila bar that took over the Nabi space on Westheimer, that oozes cool. I'm talking the bad boy, Javier Bardem, "No Country for Old Men," kind of cool that spoke to me immediately when I stepped through the doors. "You can hang out here for hours," it said to me. "You will want to come back here often," it whispered.
"Yes," my subconscious answered instinctively. It didn't matter that their tacos were the kind that you go home raving about, or their cocktails the kind that light up the camera for that great Instagram photo. I was already sold, even before I found out about their fantastic happy hour offering: Two tacos for $5 -- Oh. Yeah!
The regular price for a taco is $3.95, or four for $14, and 10 for $30. That drops down to almost half price from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and it's a steal of a deal, cheaper and bigger than taco truck fare, and seriously gourmet.
We're talking oxtail, smoked tomato jam, and red onion gourmet, so juicy and bursting with flavor. There's red mole pork with grilled corn and green onion, barbacoa with chilichurri and cabbage slaw, or grilled portabella with cauliflower puree jalapeno jam and jack. Ask the server which their favorite is, and it will vary from person to person. I was told to get the oxtail (a total winner), while some of my friends, whom I'd sent there without me, were told to get the barbacoa or grilled shrimp with pickled veggies and avocado puree.
During happy hour, frozen and house margaritas are $4, with $5 sangria, and $1 off beers as well. It's terrific all around, and if you want to sample more than the taco menu, it won't break the bank either.
Small, Mexican, but not necessarily Tex-Mex tapas-style plates are tasty and delicious. I couldn't stop eating their fried nopales (cactus), which are cut into chunks like popcorn shrimp, and served with a chili aoili, tasting a bit like fried okra with their kind of chewy, glutinous center, only better. The corn elote, or corn on the cob with bacon, chili aoili, shaved beet and honey lime was another standout small plate.
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If you're into cocktails, their menu of "cocteles" is pretty impressive, too, and hard to pass up. I had a tough time choosing between at Flor de Menta (silver tequila with muddled mint and lime, peach bitters, agave nectar, orange juice, hibiscus liqueur); a Ginger Mora (silver tequila, elderflower liqueur, bitters, fresh lemon juice, muddled blackberries, ginger beer,); and the Strawberry Limonada (silver tequila, muddled strawberries, agave nectar, fresh lemonade), the one that I chose in the end -- just three of the 14 on cocktails and infusions on the menu.
Pistolero's also has daily specials on top of their happy hour, most notably, Taco Tuesday, when all tacos are just $2 (what!?!). Yes, I will be here often.