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.
Since 1928, West Alabama Ice House has been serving cold beer and southern hospitality to neighborhood folks, bikers, dogs, college students and everyone in between. It's changed a lot since it first opened 86 years ago, but one thing has remained constant: The lack of a kitchen. The ice house has never served food, so it's been up to a rotating lineup of taco trucks and, more recently, Papou Jerry's Gyro Truck, to feed the beer-soaked crowds.
There's a bit of a rivalry going on between Tacos Tierra Caliente across the street and whatever more modern (gourmet, if you will) truck has been parked directly in front of the ice house. If you want tacos, go to Tacos Tierra Caliente, because they're some of the best old-school tacos in town. If you want nachos, though, or risotto balls or hummus and pita chips, the new Way Good Food Truck now parked on the ice house property is the way to go.
We profiled the sisters, Karen and Kathryn Fergus, who run the truck in a recent feature story, and while working on that story, I got to taste test many of the truck's diverse offerings. The best of a pretty damn good lineup of bar food is the pulled pork nachos.
The pork is smoked and pulled by the sisters in their kitchen. In spite of having only a small space to work with, there's no cutting corners or using pre-made products on the truck. They do everything--including the pork--from scratch, and that's what makes it so tasty.
The chips are fried fresh from sliced corn tortillas, then piled into a foil-lined basket and topped with the peppery, smoky pork; meaty pinto beans; spicy melted queso; a cool, creamy avocado salsa; sour cream and jalapeños. Though usually something you eat with your hands, these nachos beg for a fork (and maybe even a knife) because they're so packed with toppings.
When I order them, I find myself digging in with the fork, scooping tender pork drenched in green avocado salsa into my mouth then attacking the chips with my fingers, eating with both hands and not caring who around me might judge my barbaric actions. Every few bites I'll chomp down on a hot jalapeño or some of the spicy peppers dotting the orange queso, and I'm very glad, in those instances, to have a cold beer at the ready.
Way Good Food Truck doesn't quite fit the "mobile kitchen" descriptor, because for now, it can only be found at the West Alabama Ice House. The sisters hope to get it out on the road eventually to make appearances at food parks and other bars around town. But the nice thing about the current location is you always know where the truck will be. And you always know there will be beer.
The list so far: 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