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.
Whenever you order a veggie burger at a restaurant for the first time, there's always the risk that the patty will be a dry, dense hockey puck of a thing, devoid of flavor save for a sort of grainy cardboard essence.
This is not the case at Natachee's Supper 'n Punch, where the Daughter-in-Law burger features a meat-free patty made with black beans, corn, bell peppers and oats. It's all that a veggie burger could ever aspire to be--rich, flavorful and just as satisfying (if not more so) than a traditional beef burger.
The patties, which are positively massive, are the stars of this burger show, though the toppings--lettuce, tomato, red onion, jack cheese and creamy guacamole--play an integral role in the burger as a whole. A soft, buttery toasted buns hold the whole thing together, at least initially. Eventually, the giant patty is bound to crumble a bit as it hangs precipitously over the edges of the bun. It's a knife and fork kind of meal.
The mixture of mashed and whole black beans, yellow corn, roasted red bell peppers, cilantro and oats, which act as a binding agent, has a vaguely Tex-Mex feel to it. Combine that with the slightly spicy guacamole spread across the top bun (who needs ketchup or mayo?), and you have a hybrid veggie burger and Tex-Mex burger, perfect for those craving a little heat but not a little meat.
I did find myself adding a little hot sauce to my burger, but that's a product of my upbringing (my parents fed me spicy food from a very young age, so now nothing is ever hot enough) more than a shortcoming of the burger. A friend who tried my burger on one occasion told me to stop messing it up with too much Crystal hot sauce. To each his own.
One final recommendation, if I may: The fried pickles. I imagine anyone who's been to Natachee's before has tried the much-lauded fried pickles, but if you haven't sub them for fries with your burger. The thin, peppery batter and crisp, vinegary pickles are an ideal match with that delicious burger.
The list so far: 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