Colombian-style chicharonnes, served with a chewy corn disk called an arepa and a squeeze of lime, make a nice late-morning breakfast with a cup of coffee. It's sort of a Latino fried bacon plate. That's what I ordered Sunday around noon at Leña Verde, the Colombian "taberna" in the same Westheimer shopping center where Café Pita+ is located. The name Leña Verde means "green wood." I think it refers to a famous song of the same name. (Lyrics, anyone?)
There were only two other customers in the large empty space when I stopped by. Leña Verde originally called itself a steakhouse, but according to the hours posted on the door, it isn't even open on weekdays anymore. And judging by the posters advertising bands and the dance floor, I'd guess the place has become a weekend-only tavern and South American music venue.
But the freshly fried chicharrones were excellent. Colombian chicharonnes are different from the Mexican kind. Colombians score a thick piece of pork belly, creating bacon meat sections held together by the tough rind on top. The fried rind was ridiculously hard to chew, so I cut it off. The little pieces of fried bacon meat that were left when I removed the skin looked exactly like the cracklins I bought at a soul food restaurant last week. And at $4, they cost the same amount too.
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.