10 Lobster Dishes to Try in Houston: No. 4, Lobster Enchiladas at the Original Ninfa's

One of the many things that intrigues me about the Victorian era was how the general overabundance of shellfish meant foods like lobster were more fare for the hoi polloi than the aristocratic minority. This year, a bumper crop in the Northeast has once again made lobster cheaper for the masses. And with the lowered cost of bulk orders for restaurants, chefs are getting creative in their uses of this crustacean. Here are 10 Lobster Dishes to Try in Houston.

No. 4: Lobster Enchiladas at The Original Ninfa's

If you go to Ninfa's this August, do not order the fajitas. I know, I know, they're your favorite, but it's lobster season, so give the beef and chicken a break.

When it comes to preparation of my favorite crustacean*, Chef Alex Padilla certainly thinks outside the box, or, rather, the trap. His lobster enchiladas, one of several specials this month at The Original Ninfa's, are proof that quality meat need not be obscured by artful design.

The most superficial (but nonetheless thrilling) manifestation of Padilla's creativity is the macroscopic presentation of the lobster, whose shell is manipulated into a playful sculpture that makes the meat more tempting as well as more accessible. I wasn't too sad, however, to destroy this art piece, because doing so enabled me to sample the pastiche of flavors emerging from the guajillo and poblano sauces. Both are interlaced in and around the softened stuffed tortillas in a pinwheel pattern such that every bite varies in its proportion of peppers, tomatoes, onions and spices. The enchiladas are alternately smoky and mild, savory and botanical, sometimes spicy and always good.

But the beauty of these accoutrements is that they at no time overwhelm the lobster. Its normally sweet flesh shifts tone a bit thanks to a brushing of garlic butter, and that works well with the robust sauces. There's no mistaking, however, that you're eating the real deal. You didn't come to Ninfa's for crab, langoustine or crawfish; lobster is what's for dinner and it's glorious.

*Okay, okay, soft-shell crab is a close, close second.

Check out the rest of our must-try lobster list:

10. Lobster omelet at Union Kitchen 9. Crispy lobster sandwich at Backstreet Cafe 8. Lobster macaroni & cheese at Kata Robata 7. Lobster mango salad at Smith & Wollensky 6. Lobster Tacos at Jonathan's The Rub 5. The Lobster Roll at Triniti

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Joanna O'Leary