The sun is (mostly) shining and the skies have (mostly) been clear this past week, which means there has been zero excuse not to run to the best Houston restaurant patios and indulge in some summertime food.
What is summertime food, you ask? How about fresh shrimp, a crunchy tuna tostada, banh mi with fresh herbs, a burger with a nearly outlandish amount of baby arugula and an outstanding ice cream sundae with baklava chock-full of Texas pecans? Let’s check out the food wealth of the week.
Tuna Tostada at La Fisheria, 213 Milam
The tuna tostada, or tostada de atún, at La Fisheria is like the perfect summertime snack. Beautiful, rare slices of cool tuna cover a crispy shell. On top, wisps of battered and crispy-fried leeks add their gentle, vaguely onion-like flavor. Balancing out the crunchy elements are a sporty chipotle mayonnaise and lush hunks of fresh avocado at the perfect point of ripeness.
Camarones al Gusto at La Fisheria, 213 Milam
This was another win for La Fisheria. I admit I looked askance at the $18.99 price tag of this dish, the name of which means “shrimp to taste.” With a single bite, any buyer’s regret evaporated. There are a choice of sauces (that’s the “to taste” aspect of the dish), and we went with the al ajillo (garlic and guajillo) sauce. There is so much to love about this dish: The firm shrimp, the chile-tinged sauce and the rice, well-moistened with broth, seemed like a savory treat worth digging for. Besides that, there was a practical, composed salad that came on top.
Bánh Mì and Pho Dac Biet from Mekong Sandwich, 11600 Jones Road #105
One of the coolest things about Houston is that nearly every neighborhood has at least one Vietnamese restaurant nearby. The last day before the flood waters ebbed, we picked up lunch to go from Mekong Sandwich in Cypress, and it was probably the best meal we'd had during our days of being homebound. Was it the best bánh mì we'd ever had? No, but it was respectable (especially for Cypress). The cilantro was fresh, the carrots were lightly pickled and the marinated, roasted pork was sweet, savory and meaty all at once. The pho dac biet was also respectable, and, best of all, we didn't have to cook. Sometimes, the enjoyment of the food very much depends on the situation.
Texas Pecan Baklava Sundae at Helen Greek Food & Wine, 2429 Rice
Yeah, fine, I went back to Helen again. You caught me. I really do enjoy that place. My recent visit was the first time I'd had the Texas Pecan Baklava Sundae since my review visits last year. The Greek-by-way-of-New-York coffee cup always makes me smile. The dense baklava, wedged into the cup under the ice cream, was not excessively soaked with honey but did seem even more laden with toasted pecans than usual.
That's it from me this week. What have been some of YOUR favorite dishes lately? Leave them in the comments below.