Hoagies & More (6429 Bissonnet, 713-541-4484) is tucked away in a strip mall in Gulfton right next door to Sheba Cafe, the subject of a recent cafe review. Yet despite its name, there are no hoagies served at Hoagies & More.
You can, however, choose from a wide selection of pupusas and bubble teas here. Hoagies & More is -- to my knowledge -- the only half-Salvadoran half-Vietnamese restaurant in Houston.
I stopped in with two friends on a recent weeknight, after eating at Sheba, on a whim: One of my friends wanted dessert -- which Sheba doesn't serve -- and we laughingly told her she could have a pupusa from next door instead.
"What's a pupusa?" she asked.
Obviously, there aren't any "dessert" pupusas to speak of (hello, fusion food truck opportunity!), but we weren't about to call it a night without introducing our friend to the wonderful Salvadoran treat that is a pupusa: all cheese and beans and shredded meat inside a soft, thick masa wrapper with crunchy, sour cabbage on the side and some thin, sweet tomato sauce to pull it all together.
Inside, we gazed at the menu, befuddled. At least a dozen different pupusas mingled with empanadas and tamales, which in turn mingled with Vietnamese items like spring rolls and banh mi. We ordered a couple of drinks to go with the loroco pupusas, and my friends took a seat while I quizzed the girl behind the counter.
"I've never seen a place like this," I told her.
She smiled and laughed. "Yeah, my mother always wanted to open a restaurant." She gestured to a tiny woman in the kitchen, who had started making our pupusas. "But then my sister married a Vietnamese guy, and we couldn't decide what kind of restaurant to open." She closed the register and headed over to start making our bubble teas.
"So we did both!" she called back over her shoulder to me, still laughing. I couldn't help but feeling like this little restaurant, with Dad cleaning the floors and Mom in the kitchen, daughters working the counter and a jumble of Vietnamese and Salvadoran food, was the epitome of everything I love about Houston.
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Seated after a few minutes with a mango smoothie and an iced mocha, both with fat black pearls of tapioca at the bottom, we waited for the pupusas. Both beverages were fantastic, neither too sweet. Finally, the pupusas hit the table along with a giant container of curtido.
We showed my friend how to dress up her pupusas and she hit the ground running, devouring both -- after letting me sample a few cheesy bites -- in a couple of short minutes.
"Well, what did you think?" I asked her.
She grinned. "Oh, we are definitely coming back here again!"