I have two favorite places in town for elote, that Mexican snack you can feel at least partly good about eating because -- hey! -- it's corn and corn is a vegetable (barely) and therefore good for you! Never mind the fact that you usually slather those sugary niblets with thick cream and plenty of salt before eating...
Those two places are 100% Taquito (3245 Southwest Freeway) and Refresqueria Rio Verde (parked in front of the New Flea Market at Long Point and Pech). At both places, I get my elote in a little Styrofoam cup -- although you can get it straight on the cob at Refresqueria Rio Verde for $1 less -- and doctor it up with plenty of crema, salt and chili powder. This elote en vaso, as it's called, is an irresistible treat. At 100% Taquito, you can also get yours with lime and hot pepper on top instead of the traditional cream topping. (And, if you'll believe it, both of its versions are actually cheaper than the elote you'll get at Refresqueria Rio Verde.)
So when I headed over to try the No Borders taco truck run by Sylvia's Enchilada Kitchen not long ago, I was excited to get there and find that it served elote. But this wasn't the elote I was craving, not by a long shot.
To start with, there is no elote en vaso here. The elote at No Borders is served straight on the cob, with a helpful wooden stick in one end to make the gnawing process somewhat easier. And there's no crema for your corn, just a light sprinkling of chili powder before it's handed over to you from the tall window.
Despite the lack of the sweet, fatty cream, it was one of the best elotes I'd ever eaten. And that's thanks to the on-board mesquite smoker that Sylvia Casares and partner Michael Warren were sure to put into the taco truck before it rolled out to its location at 5002 Washington (in the parking lot of Rebel's Honky Tonk). Inside, many other items are smoked on a daily basis including the meats for the Frontera tacos as well as the popular turkey that Casares recommends served with mole sauce.
But nothing beats the almost caramelized sweetness of that corn, taken hand-in-hand with the smoky mesquite flavor that seems infused into every kernel. I might never need crema again (and my heart would probably thank me for it).
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.