When Worlds Collide

Anthony Butkovich

At first glance, the "Coyote Caesar" ($5.90) at Café Compliqe (1525 Westheimer, 713-529-5449) sounds as '80s as a metal kokopelli sculpture. Its mixture of lettuces (romaine, curly endive), Southwestern-style ingredients (roasted corn, black beans) and Tex-Mex flourishes (fried tortilla strips, green peppers) only hints at the classic Caesar from which the dish takes its name. What makes this coyote howl is an ingredient found far from the arid plains of the American Southwest: a slightly sweet, mildly hot yellow pepper from Greece. This spicy foreigner has been smuggled into the salad courtesy of Compliqe's majority owner, a Greek who has operated restaurants in his native country, among other locales. Topped with a piquant, creamy sauce, this Caesar suddenly seems as flamboyant as the brightly painted cafe in which it is served.

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