Once again, Kaitlin Steinberg is eating her way through Houston and counting down her 100 favorite dishes as we work our way toward our annual Menu of Menus® issue and culinary extravaganza. She'll compile a collection of the dishes she thinks are the most delicious, most creative and, of course, most indicative of our ever-changing food scene. It's a list of personal favorites, things she thinks any visitor or Houstonian ought to try at least once and dishes that are uniquely Houstonian.
Say what you will about the local chain of Goode Company restaurants--the reason they've lasted so long and seen so much success is the quality and consistency of their food.
I know many people who love to hate on good ol' Goode Co., because even though it started as a small barbecue joint, Houstonians now equate it with "the man." It's true, some barbecue quality does seem to have been lost over the years (or maybe nothing quite stacks up against Killen's), but I still swear by the simple, fresh dishes at Goode Co. Seafood.
And I love eating in a railcar.
Several times a month, I belly up to the bar at the Goode Co. Seafood on Westpark, and every time I tell myself that today is the day I branch out and order something I've never tried before. And every day, I end up with the same dish that's been my favorite since day one: Seafood campechana.
On the menu, it's called campechana de mariscos, and you can order it with shrimp, crab or both. Always get both. It's served in a tall ice cream glass, and it arrives at the bar overflowing with pink shrimp, green avocados and lumps of off-white crab meat. There's a nest of thin, salty corn tortilla chips arranged around the glass, seemingly there as if to catch whatever sauce and seafood drips down. Of course, the chips are actually there for dipping, but once I dig my fork into the campechana, I don't put it down until that cup is empty.
In 2009, owner Levi Goode revealed the recipe secrets to the Houston Chronicle, and though I always knew it was an involved dish, I had no idea just how many ingredients were in it.
The sauce contains nine ingredients--everything from Clamato juice to serrano peppers to ketchup. Then there are the veggies mixed in with the seafood--onions, tomatoes, garlic, cilantro--and the seafood itself, which gets mixed with avocado and New Mexican chiles before it's stirred into the sauce and vegetables.
The result is a briny, slightly sweet, slightly spicy tower of seafood with a vinegar kick. Goode Co. has taken to serving fresh, finely chopped jalapeños on the side, so you can choose your level of spice. I always get overzealous and dump the whole thing in.
Thank goodness Goode Co. also has a decent beer selection to wash it all down.
The list so far: No. 80, Whole Fried Fish at Churrascos No. 81, Daughter-in-Law Burger at Natachee's Supper 'n Punch No. 82, Chiles en Nogada Tradicionales at Pico's Mex-Mex No. 83, Porkobuco at Brooklyn Athletic Club No. 84, Chai Pie at Pondicheri No. 85, Tacos at Taqueria Maya Quiché No. 86, S'mores at 13 Celsius No. 87, Calamari at Lillo & Ella No. 88, Pulled Pork Nachos at Way Good Food Truck No. 89, Garden Sammie at Local Foods No. 90, Barbecued Salmon Salad at Brooks Family BBQ No. 91, Smoked Salmon Waffle at The Waffle Bus No. 92, Chirashi Lunch at Sushi Miyagi No. 93, Finocchiona Sandwich at Siphon Coffee No. 94, Combo Catracho at Mi Bella Honduras Restaurant No. 95, Tamal de Puerco at Andes Cafe No. 96, Cheeseburger at Sparkle's Hamburger Spot No. 97, Mi Quang at Simply Pho No. 98, Helado de Lúcuma at Pollo Bravo No. 99, Fat Fries at Fat Bao No. 100, Fish Bánh Mì at La Baguette